17 000 vacancies for ECD teachers

Source: 17 000 vacancies for ECD teachers – Sunday News August 28, 2016

Tinomuda Chakanyuka/Walter Mswazie Sunday News Reporters—
MORE than 17 000 Early Childhood Education (ECD) teachers are needed across the country to address teacher staff shortages in primary schools at a time when the Government has reiterated that it will absorb all teachers that are graduating from the country’s teacher training colleges despite a freeze on civil servants by the Civil Service Commission. Speaking during a graduation ceremony at Masvingo Teachers College on Friday, Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo said each primary teacher training college must churn out 300 ECD graduates per year for the next five years to meet national demand.

The ceremony saw 476 graduating with teacher training diplomas of which 379 were in general course while 97 were in the ECD course. In the general course category, 280 were females while 99 were males. In the ECD category, nine were males and 88 females.

“ECD teacher vacancies in 2016 are 17 000. This means every primary teachers college should produce 300 teachers per year until 2021 in order to fill the vacancies,” said Prof Moyo. “Today’s 97 ECD graduates constitutes only 32,3 percent of the annual expected output of at least 300 teachers (per college),” said Prof Moyo.

He noted that while the country has made strides in improving literacy levels, there was a need to give priority to programmes that enhance numeracy in teachers colleges through the strengthening of the training of Science and Mathematics teachers in line with the new STEM policy.

“Where the country’s primary education has achieved literacy, secondary education must achieve numeracy. “In his regard the ministry is considering converting Masvingo Teachers’ College into a secondary teacher training college for STEM teachers ,’’ said Prof Moyo .

Under the initiative, Prof Moyo said, the college will be expected to adopt both the three-year post Ordinary Level and two Advanced Level programmes as offered by Hillside and Mutare teachers’ colleges.

He also said eventually the college will be expected to develop and train degreed teachers to teach A-level Science and Mathematics. The graduation ceremony was held under the theme, “Education for Self-Reliance and Sustainability”

Meanwhile, in an interview on the sidelines of the graduation ceremony at Hillside Teachers College on Thursday, Prof Moyo assured teachers who are graduating they would be absorbed into the system despite the freeze on civil servants recruitment.

“Our country is in need of secondary school teachers. Yes there is the general civil service freeze but we cannot do things that are cast in stone or that are like a ruler or rule that does not break.

“The fact of the matter is there are vacancies in designated areas and there is serious shortage of STEM teachers in general, a serious shortage of Physics teachers in particular secondary schools across the country.

“We don’t want our teachers colleges, of all institutions, to train teachers who fail to get jobs when we know that there are classrooms without teachers, when we know that there was an exodus of teachers not so long ago and there are vacancies,” he said.

Prof Moyo acknowledged that there could be delays in employing the teachers being churned out from various training institutions, but gave assurance that the teachers would get jobs.

Added Prof Moyo: “What might happen that would be a challenge for them (graduating teachers) is that, it’s not as if today you graduate and then tomorrow you are dirtying your hands with a chalk.

“There is a transition period to do with deployment and so on, but then it just becomes not whether they will get the jobs but when, relative to their date of graduation.”

He said the country’s education would be of no value without teachers.

“It would be a serious contradiction in terms, to put a premium value on our education without teachers. The whole notion of education without teachers is just nonsensical.

“So we are engaged with Civil Service Commission and Treasury to shine a spotlight on this as an exception but also as a very important area. Teachers produce everyone else, every skill that our country ends up utilising must be produced by teachers. No teachers, no education. So we cannot play ping pong with this,” said Prof Moyo.

Prof Moyo said the new education curriculum introduced by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education also placed a need for more teachers to be recruited, while those already in service would need to be retrained in the new areas that come with the reviewed curriculum.

“We are also aware that there is a new curriculum that the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education has come up with which includes new learning areas which require teachers.

“As we have been saying, because of the policy thrust on industralisation and mechanisation we have the need not only to ensure that the pre-service students who come straight from the secondary school system into colleges get the jobs that they trained for but also retrain and upgrade the in-service teachers to give them new the skills in light of the new curriculum and also in light of the need for STEM,” he said.

The Government placed a freeze recruitment into the civil service as well as all promotions, as part of its staff rationalisation exercise, in line with recommendations of the Civil Service Report of 2015.

The freeze, among other measures, is meant to contain Government’s bloated labour bill which accounted for about 83 percent of the 2015 National Budget.