Zambia National Education Coalition (ZANEC) is pleased to join our teachers in commemorating World Teacher’s Day which falls on 5th October. Teachers are very important professionals in the education sector and therefore ZANEC always looks forward to celebrating them. Teachers play a significant role in modelling our learners both academically and socially. It is vital to mention that World Teachers’ Day provides us with an annual occasion that helps us take stock of the contributions of our teachers towards achieving our national and global education targets.
This year’s theme is “Teachers: Leading in crisis, reimagining the future.” The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us of the important role that teachers play in the education of our children. Among others, we have proved that removing teachers and replacing them by remote technology is not effective enough to bring about the learning that our children require. This has manifested itself in the low reach of the alternative modes of education designed to provide continuity of learning at home through television, radio and e-learning, hence the recent decision to just reopen schools. Our research showed that only remote learning initiatives that involved physical contact with children were more successful, given the many ICT access challenges among our teachers and pupils. Thus, the issue of teacher leadership in relation to mitigating the COVID 19 crisis response is timely given the contributions teachers have recently made in supporting remote learning and embracing the reopening of schools amidst the COVID 19 pandemic.
Therefore, ZANEC is of the view that our government needs to ensure that teachers are trained in the use of various ICTs to deliver remote learning to mitigate the crisis of limiting education to the physical presence of a teacher. Reshaping the teaching methodologies is crucial in this digital era where learning should also be provided to out of school children. Investment in digital skills and equipment is therefore not an option but a must. It is also important to note that the pupil – teacher ratio according to the 2018 Education Statistical Bulletin of the Ministry of General Education is 1 to 36.9 at secondary level and 1 to 61.9 at primary school level, which is too high for teaching recommended under the COVID 19 pandemic. This means that our teachers are having so many shifts in order to observe the social distance among the learners in order to ensure the prevention of COVID 19. Therefore, the Coalition is calling upon government to recruit not less than 20,000 more teachers now in order to reduce the huge burden and workload that our teachers are currently carrying as they deliver lessons amidst the COVID 19 pandemic.
Finally, ZANEC would like to wish all teachers in community schools, Early Childhood Education (ECE) centres, primary schools, secondary schools, tertiary institutions and Adult Literacy Instructors a safe, happy and successful commemoration of the 2020 World Teacher’s Day. They are truly our COVID 19 heroes in the education sector.