THE Government will re-engage specialist temporary teachers but only upon submission of proof that such teachers are studying towards a teacher-related qualification, a Cabinet Minister has said.
Last year the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education said more than 20 000 untrained teachers were at risk of losing their jobs as the Government had finalised the documentation for standards, which recommends exclusion of unqualified personnel from schools.
In the latest development, Primary and Secondary Education Minister Dr Lazarus Dokora revealed that the ministry’s stance regarding engagement of temporary teachers still stood although there was a window for those in specialist subjects.
“I will never change my stance regarding temporary teachers because frankly where in the world have you heard of temporary or unqualified professionals, it is only here in Zimbabwe that we are told of temporary or unqualified teaching professionals.
“What we are now saying is that yes, we can accept specialist temporary teachers like those who majored in certain subjects like Maths and Sciences where we have a shortage but the condition which we are now putting is that they should at least show proof that they are studying towards a teaching-related qualification,” said Dr Dokora.
He said those intending to work as temporary teachers should therefore not relax thinking that their non-teaching-related qualifications could get them a job as a teacher but should work towards attaining a teaching-related qualification.
“If they do not want to get a teaching-related qualification, they should then just forget that they will be able to teach at any school in the country, they should simply go to the field where they are qualified to work, which is not teaching,” said Dr Dokora.
He said the relaxed stance pertaining to the engagement of temporary teachers could be the reason why some pupils had not done well during public examinations hence the need to treat teaching as a key profession.
“If we keep on placing the teaching profession below every other profession surely our nation will never develop because we will be neglecting the entire education system. We need a scenario where we uplift the sector and ensure that learners get the best possible education because they are the leaders of tomorrow,” said Dr Dokora.
He revealed that the establishment of the Teachers Professional Council will a go a long way in ensuring that the teaching profession is effectively transformed.
“That council will see to it that every teacher within our schools is someone with a proper teaching qualification, this will further ensure that we maintain high standards as teachers will now be in a possession to set their own standards and further discipline themselves. We have also completed working on the Teaching Professional Standards document which we expect will also go a long way in improving the conduct of our teachers in the sector,” said Dr Dokora.
Meanwhile, Dr Dokora said he has received reports that administration of some schools was being affected by some heads who were not keen to acquire new skills in computers.
“What I have constantly told these school heads is that they talk to their best information and communication technology teachers so that say after school, at 4pm, they are given a crash course on the use of computers because frankly computers are now an integral part of our education system therefore it is unacceptable for them not to be able to use these gadgets.
“It is disappointing that while we try to improve the manner in which our schools function, even to the extent of donating computers to these schools, some of the officials cannot use the computers and they are now gathering dust in their offices,” said Dr Dokora.
Presenting teachers’ resolutions on schools governance and administration during the 35th annual conference of the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) held in Victoria Falls recently, a Zimta representative identified as Mr G Mhuma said it was worrying that most school heads were resisting to use computers as there was no set policy compelling them to.
“Teachers have revealed that they are facing problems with their school heads, most of whom do not want to use computers or do not have the knowhow totally in terms of the use of computers. The reason that has been put forward through engagement is that there is no set policy regarding the use of computers or that it is a requirement for teachers and schools heads to be computer literate before they are employed.
“We therefore call on the relevant authorities, in this case the Government, to help address this problem. If it means coming up with a deliberate policy on this issue then let it be so noting that computers become an integral part of schools’ administration,” said Mr Mhuma.
Teachers also noted that the Government must teach basic administration skills to some heads as there were many reported cases of maladministration at schools.