Our teachers deserve support and recognition
During the campaign you have no doubt heard me talk time and time again about the importance of education, and how spending on education is the best investment we can make as a nation.
Our teachers play a crucial role in the development of the nation. They have a large responsibility on their shoulders to educate and inspire the next generation of Zambian businessmen and women, farmers, workers, entrepreneurs and politicians. Yet their noble services have been largely neglected and government support for them has been mainly absent. This is unacceptable.
If we want to improve the education we provide our children with then we must get behind our teachers and empower them. They must feel supported by government through training initiatives and regular consultation on matters of education policy, and they must feel motivated by the remuneration of offer. We need to offer them better opportunities for career development.
We must also make sure that they have the right facilities available to them. The student teacher ratio needs to be brought under control, as does the teacher classroom ratio. Most our schools still do not have laboratory or library facilities.
We are conscious of the fact that our teachers are one of the groups to whom the PF made a lot of promises when they were campaigning for office, promises of increasing rural hardship allowances, provision of new housing and government guaranteed mortgages or loans. On nearly every point they have been let down. Not only have promises remained undelivered, but in some cases the government has also failed to meet its existing obligations to teachers, including on the payment of retirement benefits. Fresh promises this week of new houses for teachers can have little credibility when even the existing stock in not being properly serviced.
Any candidate elected in January 2015 will only have a short time until the next election in 2016 so our pledge to teachers is simple: we will respect you, we will consult you so as to understand how government can better support you, and we will invest in education properly. We know that this means investing properly in our teachers.