EDUCATION is an important factor in shaping human life and development.
Many developing countries including Zambia have realised this fact and have been working to provide quality education to citizens.
In a bid to provide equal opportunities to quality education for all Zambians, Government has in the recent years embarked on the construction and upgrade of school infrastructure.
Government has built schools across all 10 provinces as a way of making education accessible especially to rural dwellers who in most instances have to walk long distances to school.
Apart from building schools, Government has endeavoured to equitably provide human resource through deployment of teachers to all areas including rural areas.
However, the sad reality is that many teachers shun rural postings in preference for urban schools.
Some teachers, upon being posted to a rural school, cook up all sorts of reasons to get a transfer while others literally refuse to take the postings.
Others agree to the posting but later abandon the schools on claims of being haunted by witchcraft. While we may not be in a position to dispute any witchcraft claims, it may also be true that some teachers use this tactic to get out of rural schools.
The counsel by Ministry of General Education permanent secretary Henry Tukombe for teachers to be ready to be deployed to any part of the country is timely and should be taken seriously.
As the permanent secretary rightly pointed out, the teaching profession is a service to the nation, and the nation is not only along the line of rail.
That means teachers should be ready to go wherever their services are needed.
Mr Tukombe, who officiated at the fourth graduation ceremony for 1,098 primary school teachers at Kitwe College of Education recently, advised the new teachers to desist from despising humble beginnings and be ready to work wherever they will be posted.
Teaching is not an ordinary profession but a calling which requires total dedication to duty because teachers are important agents of change in society.
We do acknowledge that teachers in rural areas face a lot of challenges such as lack of accommodation, water, electricity and other modern facilities that make life more pleasant.
However, we have in the recent years seen an improvement in the standards of living in many rural areas due to the rural electrification programme which is now lighting up rural areas.
There has also been an improvement in the access to clean and safe water through installation of boreholes in some areas.
Further, transportation has significantly improved with the construction and rehabilitation of roads. Many areas are now easily accessible by road.
While as a country we may not claim to be there yet, there is evidence that Government is not sitting idly by but working to improve the standards of life in rural areas.
However, part of that improvement also involves providing rural schools with high calibre teachers capable of delivering quality education for the benefit of rural dwellers.
This is the only way the phrase coined by some schools of thought that “education is an equaliser” will be realised.
We therefore implore Government not to entertain graduates who shun rural areas. Given the number of graduates waiting to be posted, Government should not hesitate to replace those who resist rural postings.
Government should remember that the responsibility to ensure equitable access to education by all including those in rural areas lies squarely on its shoulder.
It will therefore be failing in its duties if it allows teachers to be concentrated in urban areas leaving rural areas understaffed.
Government should therefore not compromise when it comes to deploying teachers where their services are needed most.
It also goes that by choosing the teaching profession, people should be ready to serve anywhere they are posted.