The National Action for Quality Education in Zambia (NAQEZ) has said Zambia currently has around 50,000 teachers who cannot find jobs in government or private schools, warning that the situation might turn into a social, economic and political catastrophe if nothing is done to help the situation.

In a statement, NAQEZ executive director Aaron Chansa expressed concern that thousands of professional teachers who trained and graduated more than seven years ago were still without teaching jobs.

He regretted that government’s incapacity to recruit as many teachers as it could due to lack of funds had created fertile ground for nepotism and corruption as employers only consider those close to them.

“We are deeply concerned over the swelling number of trained teachers who are unemployed. We greatly fear that if nothing is done urgently, this danger will soon produce social, economic and political turbulences. Currently, statistics are stubbornly indicating that we have about 50,000 teachers who cannot find any employment in government or private sector. It is now abundantly clear that the private sector cannot employ anymore and that government has no capacity to absorb all these teachers. When government advertises to recruit 2,000 teachers, for example, more than 45,000 teachers apply. This is fertile ground for untold corruption, nepotism and favouritism when selecting the paltry 2,000. This cannot go without serious checking,” Chansa stated.

He stated that according to information possessed by NAQEZ, some teachers who trained and graduated more than seven years ago were still without teaching jobs.

“Both public and private sectors cannot employ them. Still, chances of them getting employed in the next 10 years are very remote. Others may end up reaching ages that would disqualify them for public service employment. Because of the seriousness of this matter, NAQEZ proposes the following drastic measures: the two ministries of Education must stop training teachers in social sciences and only train in subjects where teachers are in critical supply. This measure can run for four to five years; Private Colleges must be regulated by government on the number and type of teachers to train. The country cannot just be training teachers who end up nowhere,” Chansa stated.

He further proposed that the Teaching Council of Zambia(TCZ) should critically screen private colleges and shut down those unsuitable for teacher training.

“What Zambia needs is a reasonable number of quality colleges for quality teachers. We want the number of colleges to train teachers to be systematically and purposely controlled. Then the other thing is that government at presidential level should divert Zambia from the current training system to that of revolutionary skills and vocational training. More national attention must go into training our people in useful vocational and technical skills as opposed to skills in humanities and social sciences. Young people in Zambia for now must seriously consider doing trainings in other programs and courses which will ultimately make them ready to employ themselves or be easily employed,” Chansa stated.

Meanwhile, Chansa called on the Ministry of Labour to swing into action to bring industrial normalcy in many private schools in Zambia.

“Cruel conditions of work in most of these schools have caused a serious scramble for very few vacancies in government schools. The other thing is that the Ministry of Higher Education should urgently put lecturers in Trade Schools on government payroll. This will attract qualified teaching staff in these very important training institutions, and many young people will easily be persuaded to go for technical trainings. The terrible working conditions currently obtaining in trade schools is retrogressive and badly hurting training in technical and vocational skills, job creation and poverty reduction in Zambia,” stated Chansa.