Teacher union condemns over crowding in schools

Overcrowding in classrooms is undermining education delivery.

And Basic Teachers Union of Zambia (BETUZ) has expressed hope that government’s efforts at reducing the current abnormal teacher/pupil ratio in the country, will help ameliorate the problem.

BETUZ secretary general Geoffrey Simunthala said the union was concerned with the ratios especially in basic schools where some teachers were forced to deal with over 100 pupils in one classroom.

Mr. Simunthala said government had introduced a teacher recruitment exercise to try and beef up staff against the high number of children in the current schools structure.

“There is hope since government has introduced mitigation measures such as infrastructure development to increase the number of schools and existing school capacities against the high growing population,” Mr. Simunthala said.

He said previous government teacher recruitment programmes have failed to tally with the population growth as well as the underdeveloped infrastructure in the education sector.

He explained that some school administrations should be encouraged to engage untrained teachers on the expectation that they could be trained and taken on in the teaching profession.

Mr. Simunthala was responding to the situation at John Laing Basic School where one classroom comprised over 180 pupils.

The BETUZ SG said they were aware of the challenging faced by their members but were hopeful of government’s response to trying to abate the situation.

And Mr. Siminthala said government’s decision to ban tuitions in public schools should be looked at carefully by all relevant stakeholders in order to identify a lasting solution.

He said BETUZ was aware of the disadvantages attached to the scheme against those who didn’t manage the fees for the exercise.

He said basic education was a right and not a privilege of the rich or those who could afford to pay and that there was need for the various stakeholders to come together and reach a consensus on the way forward.