‘Ghost teachers’ bleeding fiscus

07 Jun, 2024 - 00:06 0 Views
‘Ghost teachers’ bleeding fiscus A substantial number of idle classroom practitioners — referred to as ghost teachers — are allegedly bleeding the fiscus which is paying them for doing absolutely nothing as most of them hardly teach for two hours per week, but still earn the same salary as their counterparts with an overload of mainstream subjects

The ManicaPost

 

Ray Bande
Senior Reporter

A SUBSTANTIAL number of idle classroom practitioners — referred to as ghost teachers — are allegedly bleeding the fiscus which is paying them for doing absolutely nothing as most of them hardly teach for two hours per week, but still earn the same salary as their counterparts with an overload of mainstream subjects, The Manica Post can reveal.

The problem is rife in most urban schools in Manicaland where these “ghost teachers” just clock in after reporting for duty and leave the school premises for side hustles and return to fill in clock-out registers.

This is happening at a time when the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education is facing serious challenges to lure Advanced Level teachers for critical subjects like Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology due to depressed earnings.

The Public Service Commission has since granted the ministry authority to recruit graduates with degrees in Mathematics, Physics, Biology and Chemistry without pedagogy as A-Level teachers.

Investigations by The Manica Post revealed that the majority of the ‘ghost teachers’ teach Visual and Performing Arts (VPA), Heritage Studies and Physical Education (PE), and in some cases Information Communication Technology (ICT), whose lessons for a class last 30 minutes.

 

This technically means that at most, they teach for two and half hours per week.

However, most of them hardly spend time teaching as respective class teachers, and primary school level often prefer to take their own classes through VPA lessons; resultantly rendering these purportedly specialised mentors redundant and irrelevant.

The same applies for other specialised subjects like ICT, Heritage Studies and PE at secondary schools where these ‘ghost teachers’ do not regularly report for duty, triggering job inertia and a sense of being overworked in their counterparts.

Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education spokesperson, Mr Taungana Ndoro, could neither confirm nor deny the prevalence of the ‘ghost teachers’ in the absence of a staff audit.

“We cannot acknowledge this without further investigation as it is in the purview of the Public Service Commission (PSC),” he said.

PSC general manager (media liaison and brand management), Mrs Margaret Muzumara requested questions in writing and pledged to respond next week after reaching out to the relevant department and getting the necessary authorisation from the organisation.

Mr Ndoro, however, said Government is working diligently to address the shortage of STEM teachers.

In a correspondence dated May 10, 2024, PSC Secretary, Dr Tsitsi Choruma-Dozwa, advised the ministry to fill the gap by deploying graduates with degrees in Mathematics, Physics, Biology and Chemistry as A-Level teachers.

“It has been noted that the ministry is facing challenges in finding candidates to fill Advanced Level posts to teach Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology. Please, be advised that the Public Service Commission hereby grants the ministry authority to deploy graduates with degrees in Mathematics, Physics, Biology and Chemistry without pedagogy as Advanced Level teachers.

“The provincial and district recruitment committee should select members without pedagogy for the Public Service Commission recruitment data base to fill the Advanced Level posts,” reads part of the correspondence.

Mr Ndoro said Government is working diligently to address the challenge.

“We do not have precise, up-to-the-minute statistics on the shortage of Science teachers in our education system. The reality is that these numbers can fluctuate on a daily basis as new teachers are hired. Some leave the profession, while learners’ enrolment fluctuates across different schools and regions.

“However, what I can say with certainty is that Government is working diligently and proactively to ensure that we have an adequate supply of high-quality STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) teachers recruited and deployed across all of our schools. Providing learners with a robust, engaging education in these critical subjects is an absolute priority for us.

“We recognise the vital importance of STEM learning in preparing the next generation of citizens and workers to thrive in our increasingly technology-driven world. That is why we are committed to implementing comprehensive strategies to attract, retain and support exceptional STEM educators throughout our education system,” said Mr Ndoro.

Mr Ndoro said there are some key initiatives that they are pursuing, which include offering competitive compensation packages and professional development opportunities to make teaching STEM subjects an attractive career path.

“We are partnering with universities to offer teacher training programmes to expand the pipeline of qualified STEM teachers as well as providing ongoing training and resources to help our existing STEM teachers to continuously enhance their skills and pedagogical approaches. We are also exploring innovative instructional models such as interdisciplinary lessons and the strategic use of educational technology, to maximise the impact of our STEM educators as well as ensuring an equitable distribution of STEM teachers so that all learners, regardless of their background or geographic location, have access to high-quality instruction in these critical subjects,” he said.

Mr Ndoro said the recruitment of STEM teachers remains a top priority for Government.

“Rest assured, this is a top priority for Government, and we are leaving no stone unturned in our efforts to recruit, develop, and retain talented STEM teachers in our schools to satisfy the learners’ needs. We are confident that these concerted actions will yield positive results for the future of STEM education in our country,” he said.

 

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