Corruption Watch: Shocking rot at teacher training colleges

Now, colleges are mass-producing students since they decided to commercialise their services.

Some time back, I complained so sorely about rampant corruption at police training academies.

I had seen that police instructors were building a very bad culture among recruits because of greed.

They were soliciting for bribes from the trainees in return for favours that included fixing results in academic studies such as law and police, covering for them when they went AWOL, ignoring other acts of misconduct at the training depots that included smoking weed, and jumping the queue to get uniforms.

What made it even worse was the fact that these instructors were acting in cahoots with their bosses at both the police training institutions and the Police General Headquarters.

I haven’t checked what the situation is like since I jaw-jawed about it, but my heart is broken that this culture of corruption, criminality and dishonesty has killed whole generations of law enforcers.

Once you know this, you won’t be surprised that, in turn, recruits at the police academies didn’t find a single problem demanding bribes from the public when they were deployed on operational duties as part of their training.

What do you expect?

A kid who grows up seeing his or her father making a living from stealing stands a very high chance of becoming a thief.

Stealing becomes a normal and acceptable — admirable even —thing to the kids because that’s what they would have been socialised into. 

You then must not be surprised or confused that there is so much corruption at police stations and at any other place where you will find a police officer.

Taking bribes or asking for money have become normal in the police service, to the extent that many of the people you see going to jail — whether on remand or as convicts — are the unfortunate ones who would have failed to buy themselves out of trouble.

More disturbingly, some of the police officers have turned into criminals on duty, taking part in all manner of crime.

I have just noticed, too, that this tradition of corruption has taken roots at teacher training institutions.

Over the months, I have been observing goings-on at teacher training colleges in Harare and a few others from outside, among them the Seke, Belvedere, Morgan Zintec, Zimbabwe Open University and Masvingo teachers’ colleges.

The lecturers at these institutions are now rotten to the core. Like the police instructors referred to above, they are now making a crooked living out of desperate students.

When they go on visits, they demand bribes of anything from US$20 from student teachers on internship in return for good marks.

It doesn’t matter if the student teachers have scored well or not. Teaching internship is like driving tests.

The instructor will make you fail, no matter how well you have performed, for as long as you haven’t paid him or the mandatory bribe.

Now, colleges are mass-producing students since they decided to commercialise their services.

You will find that there will be up to 10 teacher-students doing their internship at one school. You do your math.

It means that the visiting lecturers — two or three of them per visit — will take away at least US$200 from a single school.

If they visit six schools on one trip, that translates to more than a thousand for the team, easily more than the average monthly salary for a college teacher.

These lecturers do more than that. When it comes to assignments, they also demand bribes from their students, anything from US$5 “for a drink”.

If the student has done well on their own, the lecturers tend to be “lenient”. But where the student is struggling, the demands are high. 

Either you pay or fail, or repeat. That’s the rule at these colleges now. 

The same applies to examinations. This is the prime market especially when the exams are final. You don’t want to repeat, so you pay. That’s the way things are.

Quite disturbingly, these lecturers make no apologies about that filthy behaviour.

I know of one lady at Seke Teachers’ College who even boasts publicly that she loves money and didn’t chose teaching as a charity.

The students don’t have an escape route.

They can’t complain because chances are high that the one they will talk to will protect his or her offending colleagues and victimise them.

 There is so much joblessness in Zimbabwe and, for the majority of the students, they can’t afford to be failed or thrown out of school.

They need the qualification.

And student teachers have to pay if they need to excuse themselves from college. It doesn’t matter if a close relative has died. You just have to pay for your exit.

Predictably, the student teachers are socialised into corruption this way.

It ceases to amaze when you see teachers spending 90% of their work time on “go slow”.

Here, they just register their presence at their schools and in their classrooms.

 After that, they demand payment from learners to do “extra lessons”. This is fraud, of course.

Yes, teachers are poorly paid. But more than 80% of Zimbabwean “skilled rebharas” are poorly paid as well.

That means you can’t use your poor salary as an excuse to defraud parents and guardians by not doing your job and then moonlighting to augment the meagre salaries.

*Tawanda Majoni writes in his personal capacity and can be contacted on [email protected]

Related Topics