Government should expedite its replacement exercise of teachers who have died in rural schools where there was extreme pressure on the teaching staff with some handling up to five classes at a time.
Basic Education Teachers Union of Zambia (BETUZ) general secretary Geoffrey Simuntala said there was need for the government to also quickly fill vacancies left by teachers who have left the profession.
Mr Simuntala said Government should employ teachers and also fill vacant positions so that pupils are not deprived teachers’ attention due to high numbers in classes.
He said there was a huge pupil-teacher ratio in rural areas especially resulting from either death of a teacher or professional gaps left behind from those leaving the service for greener pastures.
“We are appealing to the government to expedite the replacement exercise of teachers who have died,” Mr Simuntala said. He explained that this exercise was not related to the recruitment exercise, but that the replacement exercise was an ongoing process to fill blanks created through death or other external movement of teachers from the service.
Mr Simuntala said with the newly established Teaching Council of Zambia, the government should also look into efficient ways of addressing teacher replacements especially in the rural areas.
He was commenting on BETUZ’s findings after a tour of some basic schools around the Central Province where the issue of shortage of staff was raised. He explained that even some traditional rulers have expressed concern at the lack of adequate numbers of teachers in their schools which was affecting the pass rate among pupils in the examination classes.
He charged that while the council should develop, maintain and improve appropriate standards of qualifications in the teaching profession, there was also need to maintain adequate numbers of staff in the schools to achieve the desired results. Mr Simuntala said it was important that the government worked at protecting the pupils against poor staffing in schools which had direct effect on their performance.
On Saturday, Government launched the first ever Teaching Council to improve professionalism in the service.