The revelation by Mitete District Commissioner Nayunda Mukwabataba that 29 community schools in his district and in Lukulu face closure due to failure by volunteer teachers to register with the Teaching Council of Zambia, makes sad reading.
It is of concern to us because it does not only affect the community school teachers but also threatens to disadvantage over 2,500 pupils who rely on the community schools for their education.
We clearly understand the reasons behind the Teaching Service Council’s decision to introduce mandatory registration for all teachers. We also appreciate its effort in trying to ensure that standards are restored in the teaching service for the benefit of not only the learners and the future and integrity of the nation. But we find it rather disturbing too that the council should just be concerned about implementing the regulations without having to take stock of how measures are affecting the schools and the members.
We believe there are always exceptions to every programme, and the Teaching Council’s requirement for all teachers to register with it cannot be an exception.
The DC for Mitete has clearly indicated, how the regulations by the Teaching Council are affecting the dispensation of education services in his district and in Lukulu District. This is an issue which requires serious attention and consideration by the Teaching Council and should not simply be brushed aside in the manner the TCZ has done.
The community school teachers, most of whom operate on voluntary basis, have not minced words about the fact that they are unable to afford registration and practicing license fees because they do not have the money.
They have also stated in no uncertain terms that they will have no option but to withdraw their services if the Teaching Council does not come up with a better option for them.
In our view, this situation does not call for the Teaching Council to play stiff lip but to sit down with the community teachers to try and discuss ways it could assist them to still get registered with it and acquire practicing licenses in their present status.
It should be borne in mind that it is not the Teaching Council or the volunteer teachers that will be affected in the event that they fail to find a solution to the current situation. It’s the very learners whose welfare the Teaching Council is infact trying to improve.