Abigail Mawonde Herald Correspondent
Primary and Secondary Education Minister Dr Lazarus Dokora has proposed the establishment of the Teachers Professional Council to regulate teachers’ conduct.
The call by the minister comes in the wake of a number of reports in the media of various shenanigans purportedly committed by some teachers.
Addressing a curriculum review meeting in Harare recently, Dr Dokora said teaching was now crowded with people with no teaching qualifications and this was detrimental to the profession.
“We are the only sector that claims to be professional, but we do not have the legal instruments to back that statement. Teachers just call themselves professionals, yet for other professions like law, when one completes studies from the University of Zimbabwe, they go and register with the Law Society of Zimbabwe, then from there they can start to look for employment,” he said.
“The same applies for the profession of medical doctors. They have a council where they register, which is the Health Professions Council where various assessments about the profession are made and recorded. Afterwards, they sign in terms of their conditions of service, a record which can be traced by a council from any other country where the professional would have gone to search for employment.”
Dr Dokora said the failure by teachers to establish such a council had exposed the profession to abuse.
“As for our teachers, it has not been the same as they cannot be traced through a representative council and so we ought to correct that. Is there no chance here that whoever gets hold of a chalk is referred to as a teacher? We have those kinds of people, who are not qualified teachers in our sector, but they are being referred to as teachers. Holders of Bachelor of Arts in Archaeology who would have failed to secure jobs from museums and monuments, then they go for teaching.
“Some used teaching as a way of sneaking their relatives in to the Public Service Commission, because they used to tell themselves that it is the only easy way of getting jobs in the public sector,” he said.
Dr Dokora said it was difficult to dismiss such people from the profession once they were recruited as teachers.
“Now when we try to align disciplines, it is no longer easy to remove them, since they are now just being moved to the appropriate departments. But meanwhile, how much damage have you caused to my kids. Yet at the end of the year, there are great expectations to see where the pass rates stand, but we forget the kind of tools we had to produce a certain output. So for us, Teacher Professional Standards is a key pillar to say, what are the ethical codes of behaviour?”
He added: “We should have a Teachers Professional Council and I am happy that the teachers themselves are happy with the initiative. We should be able to curb those situations where people masquerade as teachers by ensuring that they only enter the sector after being trained. Because it is only those who do not know how a human being’s brain works, who say half the year they are done with the syllabus, yet the normal time for completion is three school terms and hence look down upon those moving at the right pace with the pupils.
“The students may have A’s, but of cause without in depth lectures having been conducted. So the Teaching Professions Council is something that we want to develop. We already have done the groundwork, the instruments are there, the codes are there, the standards have been set and even the tools that are going to be used to supervise school heads and teachers and so on are there.”