THE establishment of the Teaching Council of Zambia under the Teaching Profession Act no. 5 of 2013 is a step in the right direction. Teaching, like other noble professions, requires regulation for the smooth running of its affairs.
We applaud this development for a number of cogent reasons. It is plain truth that from time immemorial, this noble profession has not been closely regulated particularly with regards to which persons should hold out themselves to be teachers in our society.
Consequently, there have been and still are many people who practise teaching without possessing the necessary qualifications to do so. This status quo is a matter of grave concern not only to the Ministry of General Education, but also key stakeholders such as parents and pupils.
It is our considered view that with the Teaching Council in place and when fully operational, perennial complaints of pupils being defrauded of their examination fees by some of these unscrupulous teachers running backyard, unregistered schools shall become a thing of the past.
We must underscore here that such crooked idiosyncrasy is not only unique to private schools, but in our public schools too. It is people such as these that have dented the image of the profession which, objectively speaking, should be the embodiment of all professions.
The running of schools, particularly in the private sector, has been chaotic to say the least. Many schools have been allowed to operate without due consideration of the brains behind them. We have had situations whereby majority of proprietors managing these schools are individuals without a slightest knowledge of educational management, let alone the unqualified staff employed to teach pupils. How can such individuals effectively superintend over the good order of such a core sector?
Look at the corruption that goes on unreported in many of our public schools. The few corruption cases, if any, that have been reported to the respective superiors, the District Board Secretaries (BEBS), no punitive measures have been taken simply because culprits are known to the superiors.
Who does not know that getting a school place for a child at some of these public institutes is virtually difficult unless money has to exchange hands?
It is our hope that the Council shall have teeth with which to bite. Otherwise, it risks being moribund.
We are fully aware of how resistant humanity is to change, but this new development needs to be embraced by all teachers worthy of their calling if dignity is to return to the once revered profession. The licensed teaching practitioners will have their general interests promoted, advanced and safeguarded. This body will equally act as a coordinator in representing the common interests of the members from diverse trade unions to Government during negotiations for better conditions of service and remuneration.
It is undeniable that the teaching profession has severally being brought into disrepute, ridicule and odium due to a handful of disgruntled rogues whose moral behaviour has mirrored very negatively on the reputation of the profession as a whole.
The case in point is that of a headteacher who was on Friday last week convicted of defiling a 10-year-old school girl by the Lusaka Magistrate’s Court. It is cases like this that give us the conviction the teaching profession indeed needs regulation and that such persons must definitely be blacklisted not to practice teaching for the rest of their lives. They are a danger to society and deserve to be caged.
We urge all teachers to pull together to restore dignity to this profession by ensuring that the right things are done. In instances where the Teaching Council does not take appropriate action, they should take a step further by reporting the ailing individuals to the Public Protector’s office to safeguard public interest in service delivery.
The Ministry of General Education should be cautious enough in conducting the registration exercise owing to the fact that there would be a lot of fake teachers who may resort to forging their credentials in order to continue illegally practising teaching. There is need for proper screening of both the academic and professional qualifications in order to have genuine teachers in this noble practice.