Editor's Comment

Teachers should not destroy children

WHEN pupils are entrusted to teachers, parents do not expect that they will be abused because they carry out a noble task, that of teaching and nurturing them to become better citizens.
But reports emanating from the Teaching Service Commission (TSC) are making parents think twice and wonder how safe their children are, especially the girl-child who now seems to be endangered by some teachers.
It is disappointing that some of the teachers, whom society expects to instil morals in the children they teach, are the ones in the forefront of dashing the hopes of some girls through sexually abusing them.
According to the TSC, 23 teachers have been dismissed countrywide for sexually abusing and impregnating pupils from January 2014 to December 2016.
TSC chairperson Jennipher Chiwela said the affected teachers were dismissed for offences such as having sexual relations with pupils and impregnating others.
It is disappointing that teachers can divert from their professionalism and engage in sexual relations with the girls, some of whom are the age of their children.
It is a shame that such teachers are contributing to the numbers of early pregnancies, school dropouts and maybe early marriages.
Though these figures may seem small, we are concerned about the failure by some teachers to hold their profession in high esteem.
Teachers, like other professionals, are expected to uphold the ethics of their profession and make it attractive for others who want to join in future.
However, by their choice to abuse pupils, such deviant teachers are bringing down the professional standards of teachers and casting a shadow of doubt on the noble profession which has been in existence since time immemorial.
We remember how teachers of yesterday were held in high esteem and revered in the communities they served. They were also given positions of responsibility and they were role models.
In any case, a teacher is supposed to correct a pupil and not take advantage. We are saying that if a teacher sees any unbecoming behaviour in a pupil, he should be the one, in the absence of parents, to put in place corrective measures so that the erring pupil is brought back to the right path.
What the dismissed teachers, in a way, did may have been to take advantage of the children, some of whom may not have realised they were treading on dangerous ground.
This is why, to some extent, we are seeing cases of abuse of girls in some schools.
Like the Zambia National Union of Teachers (ZNUT) secretary-general Newman Bubala said, teachers should provide a conducive learning environment to pupils and make them feel safe at all times.
We commend the TSC for taking action against the erring teachers and we urge the Commission not to relent in its efforts of making the teaching profession noble.
In taking action against the erring teachers, the Commission is preserving the future of girls for the good of the nation. A number of them have great potential and they are among those the country is depending on to contribute to development.
It is commendable that Government has constituted the Teaching Council of Zambia, which demands that teachers be accredited before they can practise.
As such, we urge the Council, in line with its mandate to regulate teachers, their practice and professional conduct, to ensure teachers who tamper with the future of children are not spared.
Wherever they are found, children should be made to feel safe or be corrected when they go wrong. For an older person to capitalise on their weaknesses is a wrong which should not be condoned.

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