The Zambian Observer

Budget will only accommodate 2,000 new teachers – General Education Minister

PF Tribalist teacher

Minister of General Education Dennis Wanchinga says government will only recruit 2000 teachers this year because that is all the budget could allow.

And Wanchinga says government will introduce a new recruitment policy of deploying teachers to their home towns in order to reduce challenges of resignations and unnecessary transfers that the ministry has been facing.

During the question for oral answer session in Parliament yesterday, Wanchinga admitted that the total of 2000 teachers to be recruited countrywide this year was very small but that it was all the ministry could afford under the current budget.

“Mr Speaker the government indeed has plans to recruit teachers in 2017and the total number of teachers to be recruited in 2017 is 2000. This number has been determined by the budget for 2017. The House may wish to know that the treasury authority granted an allocation of k111 000 000 for teacher recruitment this year so the 2000 teachers to be recruited is within the limitations of the budget,” Wanchinga said.

“The ministry takes note Mr Speaker that the number of 2000 that we have been given for 2017 is a very very small number when you look at the rate at which we have admission at the ministry and also the fact that in 2017 we have had that unfortunate phenomena of having some teachers being found with fake qualifications so once the process of cleaning up the data base for teachers in the ministry, we certainly will need to employ more than 2000 because space will be created within the existing budget to float in more teachers. But as at now and in the absence of that exercise being completed, the number we are dealing with is 2000.”

And Wanchinga said government has increased the number of years required for a teacher to a serve at a given school before asking for a transfer.

“It’s important Mr Speaker to also note that there are a number of factors that are used to determine the distribution of teachers in the provinces. One of the critical criteria used in distributing teachers is the issue of teacher-pupil ratio, we have 8,827 primary schools, we have 871 secondary schools and the numbers of these differ from province to province. But for the teachers who are being deployed in the 220 schools which we have promoted from basic to secondary schools, the numbers will be more or less uniform. Then this problem of having teachers moving from rural schools to urban areas is a subject of great concern to us. So the first measure we have taken is to increase the number of years required for a teacher to serve in a particular area before they can ask for a transfer, we have increased from two years to four years,”

“The second measure which we are considering at least in this year when we start employing is some kind of positive discrimination, we think that perhaps in some cases we should be able to send teachers to areas where they come from so that these excuses of saying ‘no, where I have been sent there is a lot of witchcraft. No, we cannot sleep because of this and that’ can be minimised because if teachers were deployed to areas where they come from, they are more likely to stay longer in those areas. The other measure which is very important is the issue of decentralisation, you may wish to know that out the 104,000 teachers we have in the ministry, majority of these are primary school teachers and when we dissolve early childhood and primary schools to rural authorities, the rural authorities will take control of teachers so it’s most likely that they will be able to know which teacher is not staying at their school and they will be able to replace that teacher who does not want to stay in that area,” Wanchinga said.

Meanwhile, the Minister said government would only start considering application for transfers during the teacher recruitment period because it was pressurising for the ministry to be transferring teachers through out the year.

“Mr Speaker we have also been experiencing a lot of pressure from teachers who are transferred from rural to urban areas and I must say that members of this House also contribute to this problem. We receive almost on daily basis teachers to be transferred, I move from this House with piles of notices from people asking for transfers of nieces and nephews. So we also contribute to this problem, but what we have decided now Mr Speaker is that we will not allow any teacher to be transferred to any school anytime in the course of the year. We have a special period when the application for transfers can be considered and we are saying that we should be doing that at the time of recruitment, when we are recruiting teachers is when we shall decide who is to be transferred where,” said Wanchinga.