Editor's Comment

Sanitise teacher recruitment process

CONTROVERSIES and misgivings have for a long time now characterised the teacher recruitment process.
Stakeholders such as teachers’ unions and graduates have time and again cried foul, alleging that the teachers’ recruitment process lacks transparency and is flawed due to corruption.
Many of these stakeholders contend that the recruitment process is abused by some individuals, thereby disadvantaging many graduates who end up roaming streets longer than expected.
The situation has been worsened by the fact that Government has not been able to absorb all trained teachers due to limited resources.
This has stiffened competition as both new and old graduates have to contend for the limited number of vacancies available for a particular year.
In instances where fresh graduates have been employed leaving those who have been roaming the streets for two or more years, eyebrows have been raised on what criteria was used.
In other instances, some graduates claim that the Ministry of General Education has employed teachers who never applied, leaving those who did.
As the number of teachers with diplomas and degrees waiting to be employed increases, the allegations of corruption and lack of transparency are also becoming a proverbial song in the ears of many Zambians.
This is certainly a call to seal any loopholes in the teacher recruitment process.
The lamentations of stakeholders on the lack of transparency is also pointing to the need to avail the public with more information of how recruitment is conducted.
For instance, in a case where a fresh graduate is given preference over one who graduated years earlier, the criteria used should be laid bare for all to see.
In view of the controversies that surround the teacher recruitment, it is commendable that Government is working on reviewing the process.
Minister of General Education David Mabumba announced recently that Government is in the process of reviewing teacher recruitment to ensure transparency in the way the exercise is conducted.
Mr Mabumba said the proposal will soon be submitted to Cabinet for approval.
While this is commendable, there is need to engage all stakeholders on how best to make the recruitment process transparent.
For instance, National Union of Public and Private Educators of Zambia (NUPPEZ) proposes that District Education Board Secretary (DEBS) office should include union officials during the selection process of would-be teachers.
If more stakeholders are represented in the recruitment process, abuse, suspicions and mistrust will certainly be reduced if not eliminated.
It is also good that the Teaching Service Commission is contemplating subjecting teachers to aptitude tests before recruitment.
If conducted by external examiners, the aptitude tests will not only enhance transparency but also ensure that the best candidates are recruited.
This is important if we are to enhance the quality of education and subsequently the graduates produced.
Given that Government has decentralised the recruitment of teachers, we expect local applicants to be given priority in their specific areas.
The police service is a step ahead and has already started implementing these recruitment measures, including decentralisation and administering aptitude tests.
The teaching profession and other professions should emulate this process.
Amid allegations that some people are employed without applying, the Ministry of General Education will do well to publish names of all applicants and later on the successful candidates.
If funds cannot permit publication of applicants in the print media, the ministry can use its website or indeed the notice boards.
This will not only dispel suspicions but also will bring sanity to the teacher recruitment process.

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