ABOUT 16 000 trained teachers are jobless, with universities and colleges unloading 2 000 more every year, Primary and Secondary Education minister Lazarus Dokora has said.
Government, at the beginning of this term, set a target of recruiting 2 300 teachers, but nothing has happened yet.
Dokora blamed what he described as “incoherence” between the Finance and Public Service ministries for the hold-up in recruitment.
“I needed 7 000 teachers last year, but by the decision of the Cabinet, I was told that I was going to get 2 300 teachers,” he told Kwekwe school headmasters and school development committee (SDC) chairpersons last week at Loreto High School.
“We are still waiting for the clearance from the Public Service. The challenge is that there is an incoherence between Public Service and the Finance ministries.”
Dokora said the recruitment of teachers is going to be based on specialised areas to push the new curriculum.
He said the number of unemployed teachers is hovering at 16 000, with 2 000 more graduating from colleges this year.
“There are 16 000 unemployed teachers, who want to get into the system,” Dokora said.
He issued a stern warning to headmasters and teachers, who are reluctant to implement the new curriculum, which has been criticised by parents and church groups.
“If you prove that you are a stumbling block, we will weed you out,” Dokora warned.
“We don’t want stumbling blocks within the system, there are headmasters and teachers, young and vibrant, who are out of the system and raring to go. This year, we are expecting about 2 000 teachers from teachers’ colleges, who want to join the system”.
However, Treasury has been making frantic calls to “drastically reduce the civil service wage bill”, which currently gobbles more than 90% of government revenues.
During the 2016 budget presentation, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said “rationalisation of the civil service would save $41,2 million per month”.
Currently, the government has thousands of teaching staff, who hold non-teaching qualifications.
In June, last year Dokora said about 10 000 teachers and headmasters could be recruited to address the shortage of educators in the country.
The move, however, failed, as Treasury is operating in constrained fiscal space, characterised by staggered civil service salary dates and little capital and social spending.
Dokora also told the headmasters that the government is working on professionalising the education sector through the formation of the teachers’ professional council.
“We need to standardise the profession,” he said.
“I will always use the example of legal and medical fields, where one cannot practice when they are not part of those professional bodies.
“We will take this proposal to the government, through Cabinet, to codify the council.”
The proposed council would also look into teachers’ welfare.
“Individuals with non-teaching qualifications are getting into the sector because it is not a professional sector,” he said.
“Teaching needs to be professional.
“How do we transact a learning situation in a learning environment with someone, who has not been trained? We have to jealously guard and protect our sector.”