TEACHING Council of Zambia registrar Dr Ebby Mubanga says unqualified teachers pose irreparable damage to learners long after they have left school.
In 2013, Parliament enacted the teaching profession Act number five which established the Teaching Council of Zambia (TCZ).
Following that enactment, the Minister of General Education appointed a Council in 2014.
Last week, Dr Mubanga disclosed that 498 teachers – 391 of them working in government schools and 107 employed in private schools – have lost employment after being found with forged certificates.
The affected teachers have been exposed through the ongoing teacher registration by the TCZ.
And speaking on Muvi TV’s The Assignment programme on Sunday evening, Dr Mubanga explained that teachers played a delicate role in learners’ lives and ought to be holders of authentic teaching qualifications.
“For us, the damage that is caused to the learners [by unprofessional teachers] is irreparable because a teacher’s job is quite delicate. When a teacher is teaching and makes a mistake today, we cannot see the results there and then [but] the results will be visible or evident [after] 10 or 15 years down the line and that damage can never be repaired. But not all is lost because with the coming of the regulator, these are issues that we want to address with stakeholder engagement. But it’s not all teachers that are bad seeds; there are some teachers that are genuinely qualified, well behaved, very productive, very passionate and very inspiring!” Dr Mubanga observed.
“What people need to know, especially teachers, is that apart from teachers just being subjected to the teaching profession Act which is precisely for the teaching profession, other laws also apply, especially if a teacher is found wanting in light of other criminal laws. Other law agencies will take it up and the Teaching Council may just be informed and withdraw the certificate from this particular person.”
He stressed that according to the teaching profession Act number five of 2013, a teacher was defined as someone who was qualified.
“Before we talk about the 498 [disqualified teachers]…In fact, those are not teachers [but] they are masqueraders! So, this is why I called them (498 disqualified teachers) masqueraders because they don’t fit into the definition that is in the Act, which is a piece of legislation that establishes the Teaching Council. From a regulatory standpoint, we need to put things right and that’s why I want to talk about the process itself because under a regulated system, for somebody to be a teacher they need to be registered,” Dr Mubanga explained.
“They have to be registered with the Teaching Council of Zambia, in this case. So, when we say a teacher is now ready to teach, certainly they have to attend training. Under the current circumstances, government has changed the duration for training as a teacher! A long time ago, teachers could go for a one-year training, get a certificate or diploma and then they became teachers. But currently, we have a minimum training duration of three years…. Of course, we have teachers that are within the field that were trained maybe using some short-term systems but at the moment we expect a teacher to be sufficiently trained for them to be qualified.”
He further noted that the TCZ started the teacher registration exercise in 2016 as part of its mandate and that this was with a view to ensuring that Zambia’s teaching service was professionalised.
“To register a teacher, first of all, the qualifications have to be verified so that we are certain to say these qualifications are genuine and they were earned by this person from a recognised institution. The process [of teacher registration] is ongoing. The 498 teachers are still in the system but we have informed relevant bodies so that they take action because as a Council, we have to inform all the concerned players to say ‘this is what we’ve found’ so that together we should sing from the same page,” Dr Mubanga said.
“The teacher registration activity is a process and within the process, the verification part is very important. So, those that were found not to possess the right credentials or the right requirements can never be registered. By the way, registration, according to the teaching Act, is a one-off thing; once somebody applies for registration, they will be registered for line, as long as they keep the registration status.”
Asked on the way forward for the 498 ‘teachers’, Dr Mubanga pointed out that “the step is that we have informed their employers.”
“Employers need to execute disciplinary action. Apart from that, the offence committed is criminal in nature [and] we have to also engage other law enforcement agencies. For us as a Council, we have traced them and we shall not register them and the implication is that if a teacher is not registered by the regulator, the Teaching Council of Zambia, this teacher should not be put on the teaching row. In fact, those 498 is not all because the teacher registration exercise is still going on and as we go towards the end, the figure is likely to increase. But from what we came across [so far], that is what we have,” Dr Mubanga noted.
“The distribution, according to employing agency, is that 391 are in government and then 107 are in the private sector. The provincial distribution is that Lusaka has 121, Southern Province 66, Copperbelt 59, Central Province 49, Muchinga 42, Northern and Luapula 37 each, North-Western Province 32 and lastly Western Province 24.”
Meanwhile, Dr Mubanga revealed that the TCZ was currently handling 202 cases of professional misconduct by teachers which have been received from the Teaching Service Commission.
“Those are for teachers in government schools,” revealed Dr Mubanga.