ZAMBEZI East UPND member of parliament Brian Kambita says political interference in the duties of the Teaching Service Commission has compromised the selection and deployment of teachers in the education sector.
Speaking in Parliament, Wednesday, Kambita said the placement of teachers was now based on political patriotism, which had compromised the performance of teachers.
“The challenges that we face with the Teaching Service Commission are two fold: one is that the Teaching Service Commission is under-funded year in, year out, therefore, hampering their output in terms of what they are supposed to do. As far as I know, the Teaching Service Commision is supposed to be appointing teachers after appointing them, they are supposed to confirm them. After confirming them, they are supposed to promote those who deserve promotion. However, this important task has been affected by political interference in bringing in people that are behaving like cadres in that very important Commission. We have a situation where placement of staff in schools is now based on political patriotism, such a case, which has actually compromised performance of teachers in these institutions,” Kambita said.
“Other challenges are many: in most of these institutions because of cadrerism, people who deserve promotion have not received promotions based on the fact that they are professional, but that they do not patronise the ruling party. That has to come to an end if this Commission is to do any good to this country. We need to ensure that it is based on professionalism as it is designed. One other thing that the Commission is failing to do is to motivate the workers that they appoint into this very important and noble profession. We have teachers that are staying in situations where they are not even accommodated. The Teaching Service Commission has left their teachers unattended to. There are a lot of problems regarding accommodation in the teaching service that must be looked into and, therefore, the Commission must be empowered enough to go round the country and establish how it will support its teachers.”
And Zambezi West UPND member of parliament Prisca Kucheka called for the deployment of teachers in rural areas.
“The Teaching Service Commission has neglected the teachers, mostly the teachers in rural areas. If you go to rural area schools that go from grade one to seven, there are only two teachers or one, meaning that teachers are overwhelmed with a lot of work and there is nothing like deployment of teachers. We have a lot of teachers, who have completed at their colleges, but they are not employed, which is very unfortunate. The Teaching Commision should be well-funded in order to reach out to the far-fetched places to help those teachers, who are finding difficulties at their schools. We appeal to government that the Commission be funded fully so that we can also see their good works. A lot of teachers must be deployed because most of these schools, if you go to rural areas, most of these schools have no teachers. Children need to learn, education is very important!” said Kucheka.
Lufwanyama UPND member of parliament Leonard Fungulwe on the other hand said the Commission should stop associating itself with the politicians from the PF.
“The Teaching Service Commission advises government on matters such as appointments. Nowadays, you find that the people that are appointed into these offices are cadres of the ruling party. That is what is on the ground. Teaching profession should also advise government, professionally. On the issue of transfers, you would find that me, as an opposition (member), I have a relative who is a civil servant, once I am seen with that person, they are transferred somewhere very far. So, does it mean that because we are in the opposition, we should run away from our relatives? The Teaching service Commission is now getting advice from politicians from the ruling party, hence we are experiencing such transfers. Even just names, especially names that start with ‘Ha Ha’ one is transfered. Don’t bring cadrerism in the profession! The Commission should be mobile and visiting schools in rural areas, what pupils are going through, what teachers are going through. There is no accommodation for teachers,” complained Fungulwe.
In summing up the debate, Minister in the Office of the Vice-President Olipa Phiri said despite many teachers upgrading their qualifications and skills, government was unable to improve their salary scale because there were inadequate positions in the high salary scale brackets.
“Many teachers have upgraded their qualifications in order to improve their skills and competence, the Commission is not able to upgrade all the teachers’ salaries because the payroll has inadequate positions in high salary scales. However, whenever positions in high salary scales are available, the Commission will upgrade the salary scale to the teachers,” said Phiri.