The Teaching Service Commission has reiterates the statement made by the Chairperson Mr. Stanley Mhango that “some teachers could neither read nor write”, and that the Commission will introduce aptitude tests in the recruitment process in an effort to improve service delivery and professionalize teaching.
Commission Spokesperson Jane Mbambara said the introduction of aptitude tests has been necessitated by the concerns the Commission has been receiving from various education stakeholders.
“The public may wish to know that the Teaching Service Commission as employers of Teachers in the Public Sector would not allow anything that would compromise the quality of professionalism in the Teaching Service. The Commission would like to state that the statement was not in any way meant to demean or demoralize the Zambian teachers but it was meant to emphasize why the Commission wanted to introduce aptitude tests which will be administered at no cost,” Ms. Mbambara said.
She said the Commission is however aware that a named Union official wanted to use the statement to mislead the teachers and the general public.
Mr. Mhango, Chairperson of the Teaching Service Commission, a government entity regulating the teaching profession, said recently that applicants for the 2018 teacher recruitment will be required to sit for aptitude tests.
He said the aptitude tests will be conducted in various districts of the southern African nation to ensure that only competent teachers were recruited.
The move, he said, follows complaints from some school authorities over the caliber of some teachers deployed to various schools.
But the move, the first of its kind in teacher recruitment in the country, has received mixed reactions.
The Zambia Council for Social Development said the move was a confirmation that the government has not been paying particular attention to provision of quality education throughout the system.
ZCSD Executive Director Lewis Mwape said reports of failure by some recruited teachers to perform was a systemic failure by education authorities in the country to deliver quality education and introducing aptitude tests was a pedestrian manner of dealing with the problem.
Mr. Mwape described the plans to undertake aptitude tests for trained teachers intended to be recruited into teaching service as a mockery.
“The revelation of the Teaching Service Commission must be taken seriously as it raises not just the question of quality of teacher training but also underpins the systemic failure of the entire education system,” he said.
The government, he said, should increase funding to the education sector and ensure that the Ministry of General Education allocates more resources to the Directorate of Standards within the ministry in order to deal with education quality outcomes throughout the system.
“We are also of the view that the resources for aptitude testing would better be invested into providing textbooks and other education materials to schools who are currently struggling with teaching and learning materials due to poor funding at the school level,” he said.
The Zambia National Union of Teachers also believes that there is need to review the education structure in order to identify the real problem.
Newman Bubala, the union’s secretary-general said there were many loopholes in the recruitment process which have resulted in competently qualified teachers being left out in the recruitment exercise.
According to him, there was need to examine the recruitment system to ensure that the process was transparent and also increase the budgetary allocation to the education sector to enhance the quality of education being provided.
In 2017, over 500 teachers were found with fake qualifications during a scrutiny of their educational qualifications and some of them have since been fired.