Editor's Comment

Transparency vital in teacher selection

THE call by Zambia National Union of Teachers (ZNUT) for transparency in the recruitment of 30,000 teachers this year is justified. The recruitment of teachers in the country has always been an emotive issue and this time around the Teaching Service Commission (TSC) needs to put measures in place to prevent corruption. Government has for the first time provided an opportunity for all trained teachers to be recruited. So, there is no need for anyone to resort to corrupt means of getting a job in the civil service. The commission should ensure transparency in the recruitment exercise so that other teachers are not marginalised. The new dawn administration has shown goodwill and commitment to see to it that the shortage of teachers in schools around the country is addressed once and for all. It will be a betrayal of trust if authorities in the education sector allow corruption to characterise the recruitment exercise. Lack of transparency in the employment of teachers has contributed to compromised standards of education in the country as some people are not recruited on merit. We understand that there are some teachers who have been teaching for some years but are not yet on payroll. We urge Government, through TSC, to address this matter so that it does not get in the way of new recruitments. If the number of teachers who are not yet on payroll or volunteering is big, definitely it will eat into the 30,000 places in trying to harmonise the imbalance. In order to avoid confusion at the point of recruiting new teachers, TSC must solve the current problem where some teachers are complaining of not being on payroll despite them having been working. We are also not sure how the commission has resolved allegations of some people among those recruited before having bribed their way into the civil service. Professional Teachers Union of Zambia secretary-general Kangwa Musenge had raised allegations of corruption in TSC when his organisation appeared before a parliamentary committee last year. Of course, there was a rebuttal from then TSC chairperson Stanley Mhango that the allegations were false. But as they say, there is no smoke without fire, which is why we are in support of ZNUT president Newman Bubala that transparency is cardinal in the recruitment of teachers this time around. There are many unemployed teachers who have been waiting for this opportunity for many years since graduation and they would not want corruption to get in the way of their chances. The onus is on the Teaching Service Commission and the Government at large to ensure that things run smoothly during the recruitment exercise. Mr Bubala has raised a pertinent issue bordering on balancing the deployment of teachers between urban and rural areas which we feel should not be ignored. The standard of education in rural areas is low compared to urban areas because there are few trained teachers in the countryside. Most teachers don’t want to work in rural areas. Some cite witchcraft as the reason for running away to urban schools. Given this challenge, Government must ensure that teachers who will be deployed in rural areas are accommodated in good houses. We also urge the Government to look into the payment of rural hardship allowance. Many teachers have been complaining of not receiving such allowances since they were posted to rural areas. It will be unfair to deploy teachers to far-flung areas of the country without looking into their welfare, which includes rural hardship allowance. The situation is made worse for teachers in rural areas by lack of banks near their schools. As a result, they have to walk long distances to receive their salaries from the nearest towns. We would also like to advise teachers waiting to be employed by Government to avoid the temptation of bribing officials to enhance their chances of being recruited. Transparency in the recruitment exercise can only be achieved if teachers themselves maintain their integrity.
The chances of every unemployed teacher being recruited this year are high considering that 30,000 is not a small number.
So, there is no need for anyone to jeopardise his or her chances by engaging in corrupt practices. Once again, we urge the Teaching Service Commission to ensure transparency in the recruitment of teachers so that everyone can have equal opportunities to work in government schools.

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