(By Charles Tembo in Ndola and Edwin Mbulo in Livingstone )
COPPERBELT permanent secretary Bright Nundwe says there are a lot of teachers that are reporting for work drunk.
And teachers shouted “Insala, insala (hunger, hunger)” after Basic Education Teachers Union of Zambia president Felix Wakyembe greeted the teachers and said they were not looking happy.
During the commemoration of World Teachers Day at Broadway Hall in Ndola, Nundwe said it was sad that a crop of teachers had continued to report for work drunk.
“We respect teachers very much. I will be the last person to condemn or attack a teacher. But we have a crop of teachers that report for work drunk. Some teachers are drinking beer like fish and goats,” Nundwe said.
“I want to see a crop of teachers that are outstanding and have significance. I don’t want to see a crop of teachers getting drunk in class. Therefore, we have machines that will detect the levels of alcohol in teachers. We can’t have teachers that drink like fish and goats. We are getting into exams, don’t involve yourselves in malpractices.”
He further told teachers to support the government of the day.
“For now, we have the PF in government. You have no option but to support it. I have some bad reports. Work with the government of the day. Don’t get involved in unnecessary politics. Leave politics to politicians,” said Nundwe.
And Wakyembe said it was wrong for ministers to increase their salaries, while teachers received nothing.
“We need to see a state of hygiene in this country. How can the State (President, Cabinet ministers and permanent secretaries) give themselves huge salaries and teachers nothing? We need hygiene in this country,” Wakyembe said.
He said teachers should be considered.
“Fuel has (been) increased, salary for teacher nothing. If we were mature in Zambia we could have parked our vehicles and walk (ride) in bicycles, so that they see,” Wakyembe said.
During his address, Wakyembe noted that the teachers looked sad.
“How are you teachers? Why are you not happy? This is your day. Be happy,” said Wakyembe, but the teachers shouted; “insala, insala!”
And during commemorations in Livingstone, Professional Teachers Union of Zambia general secretary Musenga Kangwa said teachers were being exploited by financial lending institutions who charge high interest rates.
He also said thousands of teachers in the public sector were not being paid allowances such as housing, responsibility, double class, and leave travel benefits.
“Workloads have increased, working conditions are deteriorating, and teachers are increasingly employed under precarious contracts in the private sector. As a result, the general status of teachers has suffered,” Kangwa said.
He said the profession was often being associated with inadequate training, poor prospects, and lack of professional autonomy.
Kangwa said many teachers work for years without proceeding on leave, resulting in fatigue and loss of interest in their work.
“Even as we are gathered here today, many teachers are not confirmed in their appointments despite working for many years. In recent years, we have witnessed many teachers being appointed to act in administrative positions in schools which are upgraded but are not gazetted nor have establishments, resulting in teachers acting for years without being substantively appointed and thus not receiving salaries commensurate with their positions,” said Kangwa.
And Livingstone district commissioner Harriet Kawina urged teachers in Southern Province to focus on improving pass rates.