National Action for Quality Education in Zambia (NAQEZ) has issued a plea to the Zambian government, particularly the Teaching Service Commission and the Ministry of Education, to handle the widespread protests erupting across various districts regarding the outcome of the 2023 teacher recruitment exercise with utmost care.
Dr. Aaron Chansa, Executive Director of NAQEZ, expressed concerns over the protests, which have been sparked by allegations of corruption, nepotism, political interference, and the recruitment of non-local individuals.
These grievances, he noted, are not isolated to a single province but are prevalent across all ten provinces of Zambia.
Mr. Chansa highlighted the involvement of District Commissioners in the recruitment process, stating that their participation has led to political interference, contravening established regulations.
He emphasized the need for transparency and accountability in future recruitment exercises, suggesting the inclusion of clergy members and NGO representatives in District Human Resource Management Committees to depoliticize the process.
In order to pacify the situation, Mr. Chansa urged the government to engage all stakeholders, particularly in provinces where protests are prominent.
He recommended that where irregularities are confirmed, the government should nullify questionable selections and conduct a new recruitment exercise.
Additionally, to enforce the policy of employing local teachers, Mr. Chansa proposed orienting traditional leaders and rural community gatekeepers on the definition of “local” teachers.
He emphasized that this policy aims to improve teacher-learner ratios in rural areas and is not tribal in nature but rather ensures that qualified individuals residing in a locality are given employment opportunities.
To prevent the recruitment of non-local individuals who later migrate from rural to urban areas, Chansa suggested the implementation of oral interviews with mechanisms to detect fake local residents among applicants.
Furthermore, Mr. Chansa proposed reducing the retirement age from 60 to 55 years to create more vacancies for new teachers and provide opportunities for long-serving teachers to upgrade their qualifications.