Copperbelt Province Minister Elisha Matambo has warned teachers against asking for bribes from parents or guardians seeking school places for their children.
Some teachers on the Copperbelt have been accused of asking for bribes from parents seeking school places for their children.
Ndola-based civil society organization Break the Silence recently said it had information on the matter and asked education authorities to investigate the allegations.
“Break the Silence was aware that some teachers in selected schools were soliciting for bribes from parents seeking school places, especially in Ndola and Kitwe,” Break the Silence Chief Executive Director Richard Mweetwa said.
Speaking to journalists in Ndola, Mr. Matambo said teachers should not take advantage of high demand for school places to ask for bribes from parents.
The Minister said there is high demand for school places in almost all the ten districts on the Copperbelt owing to the free education policy introduced by the New Dawn Government.
Mr. Matambo said high demand for school places shows that many parents could not afford taking their children to school in the past because of fees.
He also told school authorities to religiously follow the Government’s policy of not forcing parents or guardians to buy uniforms from schools.
“After pronouncement of free education, all of a sudden space at different schools around the province has run out. This shows that we had a lot of parents who were not managing to take their children to school because of payments. Wherever I have gone or whichever district I have checked almost all school places are full but we are also encouraging our teachers not to take advantage to say places are full when in reality places are there so that they get something. So running out of school spaces simply shows that we had children who were just at home because their parents could not afford to pay fees,” Mr. Matambo said in Ndola.
Mr. Matambo highlighted the Government’s plan to expand school infrastructure to meet the increasing number of pupils owing to free education.
“His Excellency gave an announcement some days ago where the Government will move in now and try to expand classes for the schools so that everyone is accommodated. We promised free education which we have started implementing. We have abolished the PTA, school fees, we have abolished examination fees,” he said.
“We are also encouraging parents because we came to learn that schools wanted to impose buying of uniforms in schools. Parents should be allowed to buy uniforms where they feel it is cheaper. We are trying to make education affordable to everybody. Instead of the money which the parents were supposed to pay to schools, the Government has decided to send that money to different schools,” Mr. Matambo said.
He also explained the delayed recruitment of 30, 000 teachers as planned in the 2022 National Budget.
Mr. Matambo said the Government firstly wants to harmonise the grading of teachers before commencing the recruitment programme.
He said teacher recruitment will start as soon as the ongoing harmonization of teacher grading is complete.
“The employment of 30, 000 teachers, we could not employ immediately in January because we came to learn that several teachers were not graded properly. You find that somebody is a headmaster but he is still getting the salary of an ordinary teacher so more than 10, 000 teachers had wrong grades. We thought before we recruit the 30, 000 teachers, we correct the grading of teachers so that teachers can have correct grades and correct salary scales. So this is what has been going on in these few months. That is what is being done as I am speaking, so as soon as that is done, the recruitment of 30,000 teachers will start,” Mr. Matambo said.