EVERY time reports of teachers’ misbehaviour or misconduct come up. it makes sad reading for all.
This is because of the special place and position the teachers have occupied in society since time immemorial.
Therefore, the report of the dismissal of 79 teachers in Southern Province for various offences ranging from fraud, absenteeism and canal knowledge is unfortunate.
Recent reports in the teaching profession such as fake qualifications and engaging in other bad vices is an embarrassment to the profession, which previously commanded a lot of respect in the community.
Previously, a teacher was considered to be a role model, but slowly, teachers are becoming laughing stocks, all because of some elements that cannot adhere to professional ethics and societal norms.
The continued reports against the teachers are not only an embarrassment to the teaching profession but are of great concern to the country at large.
This is because all professionals, regardless of the importance, have passed through the hands of a teacher at one point or another.
Revelations that of the 79 teachers dismissed in Southern Province, 41 joined the teaching profession with fake papers makes sadder reading and we wonder what this means to the pupils who were taught by these teachers.
Provincial Education Officer Florence Chikalekale who brought this to the attention of the Minister of General Education Dennis Wachinga during the minister’s meeting with the District Education Broad Secretaries (DEBS) in Choma yesterday, said the 41 had fake papers while 14 teachers were fired for having carnal knowledge with pupils.
Ms Chikalekale went on to inform the minister’s delegation that Southern Province still had a number of disciplinary cases for teachers awaiting hearing.
Obviously, this is not unique to Southern Province alone and the scenario could be reflective of what is happening in the sector throughout the country.
So this means the number of teachers engaging themselves in wrong doings is on the increase as compared to the past when such things were taboo.
It was a taboo to hear that a teacher had impregnated his own pupils or indeed that female teacher had raped a boy.
Similarly, provision of quality education is vital in the education system and having teachers possessing qualifications that lacked credibility should not be tolerated.
Last year, the Zambia National Education Coalition (ZANEC) expressed shock by revelations that over 500 teachers across the country had allegedly forged academic qualifications.
This calls for urgent and extensive investigation in the matter to ascertain the exact magnitude of the problem.
There is definitely need for having constant and tight quality controls in the delivery of education at primary, secondary and tertiary levels.
We feel this should not just be a matter of dismissal from employment on the affected teachers, but stringent measures should be put in place to screen those enrolling for the teaching profession.
We wonder what kind of a country we are going to be if the quality of education is compromised, doubted and teachers who are supposed to be role models in society are also involved in shameful acts as canal knowledge of their pupils.
There is indeed need to preserve the teaching profession which is a noble profession that requires avoidance of wrong vices which are painting a bad image on the education system in the country.
To do that, perhaps, there would be need to find ways of ensuring that, right from the enrolment stage, potentially-bad elements among the would-be trainee teachers are weeded out.
This is more so since teaching is a calling and some of the people flocking to the teachers’ training colleges may not just have been called to that noble profession as already alluded to.