The Sunday News
Belinda Moyo, Sunday News Reporter
THE Government last year terminated contracts for more than 1 600 teaching and non-teaching staff members under the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education for not having the requisite qualifications while some were dismissed for improper relationships with pupils, it has been learnt.
From the more than 1 600, 128 qualified teachers were dismissed, mainly male teachers for cases related to improper conduct with minors from 241 disciplinary cases handled in 2018.
According to a report detailing last year’s targets and this year’s projects and targets, in possession of Sunday News, the Government terminated employment for 1 645 teaching and non-teaching staff members including 135 support staff members who did not have requisite qualifications.
The report also noted that the Government recruited an additional 1 300 teachers to fill vacant teaching posts across the country. The ministry also reported that 342 were promoted to be heads at primary schools, 173 at secondary schools while 996 were promoted to be deputy heads at primary schools and 74 at secondary schools.
This year, according to the report, the ministry intends to recruit an additional 6 400 teachers to reach the approved 127 091.
It also intends to promote 1 500 teachers to heads and deputies. Already, the process to recruit 3 000 teachers has started.
“Identification of 315 support staff without requisite qualifications will be identified for retirement,” said the ministry.
On disciplinary measures, the ministry reported it discharged 128 members from service for various offences with 241 cases of various misconduct cases documented during the year.
Contacted for comment, the Deputy Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Cde Edgar Moyo, said Government was concerned about the misconduct by teachers despite the decrease in the number of cases compared to previous years. He said the ministry was working towards eliminating misconduct among educators as this was impacting negatively on the quality of education.
“As a ministry we are very much anxious on the misconduct cases recorded, yes, we are happy that there was a decrease of misconduct cases in 2018 compared to 2017, but we will continue working tirelessly to make sure they are completely eliminated as they impact negatively on the quality of education. Some members were discharged from service. This is one of the initiatives which help in the reduction of misconducts hence we will enhance this kind of measurement to ensure that we professionalise the education sector and produce quality education in the country,” said Cde Moyo.
From the report, 330 cases of misconduct were reported in 2017 and 368 in 2016 with an average number of misconduct cases recorded per province being 42 for 2018 against 64 for 2017 and 80 for 2016.
In terms of prevalence, the report noted that the offence committed most was improper association with minors with 69 cases recorded, a decrease from 84 in 2017 and 111 in 2016. Cde Moyo condemned abuse of children by teachers, adding that it was putting men in bad light.
“Improper association with minors, this is mainly done by male teachers and such behaviour always puts all men in bad light. As a ministry we condemn that and we will continue giving awareness to children through child protection committees. To teachers we are saying this year we give a stern warning against child abuse, teachers should know that such kind of behaviour attracts a severe charge,” he said.
The report also read that some of the offences that led to dismissals included financial mismanagement which affected mainly heads and their deputies. Senior teachers who were mainly affected were dismissed for absconding work. According to the report, 24 teachers (23 males and one female) were arrested by the police for various criminal acts, an increase from 18 in 2017.
“Of these five were found guilty, two were incarcerated, one was given community service, two paid fines. Two were found not guilty and the rest of the cases are pending.”
The reports said a total of 12 cases were handed to the Labour Court.
“Of these the ministry won three, lost three and six are still pending. The reduction in Labour Court Cases can be attributable to the reduction in the backlog of cases by the court. Losing cases is costly as the members have to be reinstated or paid damages. Two cases were lost on merit while one was lost due to non-appearance by the Civil Division.”