MINISTER of Education Douglas Syakalima has assured teachers in the country that they will work in a safe environment, free from political interference.

And Syakalima says never again should politics enter the education system because this kills the country’s lifeblood.

When Syakalima met teachers and District Education Board Secretaries from across Eastern Province, Monday, Eastern Province Education Officer Dr Allan Lingambe told him that politics affected the outcome of the Grade 7 and Grade 9 examination.

Dr Lingambe said some teachers got so engrossed in politics that they could stay away from class for over a month, campaigning for the former ruling party.

He said Headteachers who attempted to reprimand such teachers often received phone calls, threatening them against doing so.

“It is with a heavy face, I also want to mention that Eastern Province at Grade 7 was number 10, at Grade 9 number 10. This has never happened before. We have always led this country in terms of results but one thing which keeps lingering in my mind is that we politicised education too much,” said Dr Lingambe.

In response to these revelations, Syakalima said as much as teachers had the freedom to belong to any political party, they needed to stick to their lane of being policy implementers.

“The other thing which I would like to urge you is that we must depoliticise education, it (politics) kills the lifeblood of a country,” said Syakalima, who also assured teachers that they did not need to fear any harassment.

And speaking on behalf of other teachers, Hillside Girls Secondary School Headteacher Jusiel Banda thanked the UPND government for providing a conducive environment for teachers and schools to operate freely without any form of political interference.

Banda said teachers in the previous regime were working in fear due to political interference mostly by political party cadres.

“We have seen within the few days that the New Dawn Government has been in power that we are in the right hands. Surely, we were in a situation where we had one man policies,” Banda said.

“Thank you Minister that you have removed politics in the Ministry of Education because we were scared every time that we were visited because we didn’t know whether we are visited by a cadre or the right person, and so every time we needed to check on our shoulders.”