Zambia National Education Coalition (ZANEC) joins the rest of the world in commemorating the 2018 World Teacher’s Day. ZANEC is always delighted to commemorate this day because teachers play a very important role in shaping the future of individuals in our societies. Teachers are an extremely important asset of any society for several reasons and their role in society is both significant and valuable. Teachers play a major role in the lives of children during their formative years of development and therefore the importance of teachers cannot be understated. Therefore, our teachers do not only provide education but they also help in moulding students into responsible citizens.
This year’s theme is “The right to education means the right to a qualified teacher”. The theme affirms education as a right. This means that everyone regardless of his or her gender, race, tribe, nationality or status should have access to quality education. Indeed qualified teachers are the cornerstone of an education system at all levels. A qualified teacher is one who is capable of teaching adequately. In ZANEC’s view, it is very important that teachers have the right credentials, certification, motivation and passion in their field of teaching in order to bring about positive learner outcomes. This is because a teacher without passion cannot succeed, as only passion can stimulate the interest in the learners’ minds. A qualified teacher is capable of inculcating in the learner, the appropriate knowledge and values that inspire positive social, cultural, economic, and political progress. A teacher is thus a mentor who guides learners through the ladder of education. It is therefore the personal responsibility of every teacher to ensure that they play a significant role in both the students’ life and education. Not only do teachers need to deliver their lessons but they also help learners see their future prospects.
According to United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO),the theme has been chosen to remind the global community that the right to education cannot be achieved without the right to trained and qualified teachers. Even today, a continuing challenge worldwide is the shortage of qualified teachers. Sadly, the shortage of teachers is a big challenge in the Education and Skills Sector that needs to be addressed. In Zambia, there are about 5 million learners against 100,000 teachers, translating into an average of 50 pupils against one (1) teacher. In rural areas, the teacher pupil ratio is even higher as teachers are not evenly distributed.
It is important to note that since 1994, this day has been commemorated to appreciate teachers across the globe. It is observed that the World Teachers’ Day of 2018 marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) that recognizes education as a key fundamental right especially to free and compulsory education that promotes inclusive and equitable access for all children. A teacher is therefore very instrumental in the realization of Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Coalition is of the view that individual teacher qualities, character, qualifications and professional competence are the cornerstones upon which an effective national education system should be anchored. However, ZANEC notes that in the Ministry of General Education, a total of 3,148 teachers were recruited and deployed to schools across the country in 2017 against a target of 55,000 teachers over the next 10 years. An additional 2,000 teachers is also expected to be recruited before the end of this year. Further, 2,939 teachers are being supported to upgrade their qualifications under the fast-track teacher education programme as highlighted in the Presidential Speech that was delivered to the National Assembly of Zambia on 14th
September 2018. As ZANEC, we are concerned that at the current pace that government is recruiting teachers, the current target of 55,000 teachers will not be attainable. We therefore, appeal to the government to consider recruiting at least 5, 500 every year.
Finally, ZANEC would like to take this opportunity to wish all the teachers in community schools, early childhood care, development and education centres, primary schools, secondary schools, tertiary institutions and Adult Literacy Instructors a happy and fruitful commemoration of the 2018 World Teacher’s Day.