TEACHERS are an indispensable component in the development process of any nation. Students cherish the knowledge their teachers impart to them many years later.
Teachers are builders and through their teaching practice, they mould their pupils into leaders who eventually take over the reins of the nation in various positions.
Every student has passed through a teacher, whether in a formal or informal classroom. This is why the best teachers are never forgotten by their students.
It is, however, quality education that matters to any student. The best students may not be by grade but they are those who have received quality education from teachers who give them their best.
Government, in recognition of the importance of teachers, has been implementing programmes aimed at improving their skills so that the nation gets better graduates.
It is in this respect that Government has embarked on various upgrading programmes for teachers under the Fast Track Teacher Education Programme.
Minister of Education Dennis Wanchinga has said 400 teachers are upgrading their programmes in science and mathematics at the University of Zambia while another 1,600 are studying in various subjects at St Eugene University.
He said this when he made a ministerial statement in Parliament on Thursday.
It is also common knowledge that apart from these teachers, there are some of their colleagues who are studying at various universities like the Copperbelt University, Mulungushi University and the Zambia Open University.
In allowing the teachers to study, whether under Government financial support or on their own, Government seeks to have a cadre of highly specialised staff who will move the development process to a higher level.
The world around us is changing everyday and our teachers need to keep abreast with new developments, which they can better do with more education.
Governments worldwide place emphasis on science and technological subjects and we want to commend Government for taking these deliberate measures to increase the number of teachers for mathematics and science.
Government also recognises that quality education is the cornerstone of any meaningful development, which among other things, can be attained through staffing our educational institutions with quality teachers.
We know that when we have quality teachers in schools, the performance of their pupils will improve, resulting in better competencies and results for the learners.
It is worth noting that Government is carrying out such programmes alongside the upgrading of schools around the country and the building of some in school-deficient areas.
We urge government to continue supporting the teachers so that our schools produce learners of high calibre.
However, we are alive to the fact that while the teachers are working hard for the nation, their lot still faces a number of challenges, such as lack of accommodation and poor working conditions.
We want to urge them to continue working with Government, as their employer, to see how their challenges can be overcome. This, we are convinced, is the only way to attain a win-win situation.
We know that Government is interested in the welfare of its employees, like teachers, and it will do everything to improve their conditions so that they give out their best to the learners.
Going by the importance of teachers in our communities, we also want to advise those who are not covered under the government upgrading programmes not to sit back but to see that Government can give them a chance to study while they are working.
By upgrading their qualifications, teachers will become more respectable and add more value to the teaching profession.