BY EVERSON MUSHAVA
GOVERNMENT yesterday started public hearings to solicit people’s views on the establishment of the Teaching Profession Council (TPC) that will require teachers to seek an annually renewable teaching practicing certificate. The move, which could spell the end of trade unions, according to critics, was aimed at making it difficult for teachers to go on strike.
The Teaching Profession Council Bill contains a raft of changes in the regulation and professional conduct of the teaching profession that has for long been the preserve of unions.
According to the Bill, the teaching profession will now be regulated by an 18-member council, consisting of one representative from the Law Society of Zimbabwe, Association of Trust Schools, Public Service Commission, Correspondence and Independent Colleges, two members recommended by the Higher and Tertiary Education ministry, from the Department of Teacher Education and Zimbabwe Council for Higher Education, five registered teachers through an elected criteria set by council and five registered teachers from teachers’ unions, among others.
“A person shall apply to the council for registration as a teacher in the prescribed manner and form upon payment of the prescribed fee,” part of the Bill read.
“The council may, within 30 days of receipt of an application under subsection (I) grant or reject the application.”
The Bill added: “A teacher shall apply to the council for a practicing certificate in the prescribed manner and form upon payment of the prescribed fee. The council within 30 days of receipt of an application under subsection (l) and where the application meets such requirements as may be prescribed, issue the applicant with a practicing certificate. The council shall reject an application which does not meet the requirements of this Act, and inform the applicant, in writing, and give the reasons for the rejection.
On renewal, the Bill said: “A practicing certificate shall be renewed every year in the prescribed manner and form upon payment of the prescribed fee. A practicing certificate that is not renewed in accordance with subsection (1) is void. A certificate issued under this part shall contain such terms and conditions of the certificate as the council may determine.”
The council will have several functions that include registering of teachers, regulating the professional conduct of teachers, develop, maintain and improve appropriate standards of qualification in the teaching profession and promote continuing professional development among teachers as well as develop, promote and enforce international comparable teaching profession practice standard in order to improve the quality of education in Zimbabwe.
The council will also investigate allegations of professional misconduct on teachers and impose sanctions as may be necessary.
According to the Bill, the council shall appoint a registrar, who shall be its chief executive officer, on such terms and conditions as the council may determine.
The registration will recognise several classes of membership with each class of membership entitled to certain rights.
A person will not qualify for registration as a teacher under this Act if the person does not possess the prescribed qualifications, has, for any reason, ceased to practise as a teacher or been de-registered or has been convicted of an offence involving fraud or dishonesty under this Act or any, among a raft of reasons.
A teacher can have the practising certificate cancelled if found guilty of any professional misconduct; declared to be of unsound mind under the Mental Health Act; obtained the practicing certificate through fraud, misrepresentation or concealment of a material fact and commits an offence under this Act or contravenes the code of ethics, among other reasons.