In many respectable vocations, it is compulsory to be a member of a professional body governing that field. One respectable profession regarded by many as the mother of all professions – teaching – could soon be taking this noble route.
Teachers could soon be joining doctors, lawyers and engineers in having a professional register of members who are governed by a body that is able to deregister or recommend further training for those who bring the name of the profession into disrepute.
Standards will be spelt out, training will become relevant and malcontents eliminated. Is that not what all genuine professionals want? To maintain ethical standards and protect the profession from misfits.
Other advantages of professional bodies include being part of a network where individuals can share relevant information. Physicians, for instance, share new discoveries and consult on unfamiliar cases almost on a daily basis. If this was not the case, we all would not be alive today.
We commend Government for giving the teaching profession the honour it deserves. Teachers are probably the most important professionals in any society and must be treated as such. Yes, they must be paid well, but they must also have standards that are kept in check by a professional body.
As we reported yesterday, Government is working on establishing a Teaching Profession Council under which teachers will apply for registration before being issued with a practising certificate. The proposed changes are contained in the Teaching Profession Council Bill which is expected to provide for the regulation of the educators, their practice and professional conduct.
If teachers are the single most important people in the lives of future leaders, then they should keep each other in check to ensure that we continue to progress and remain relevant as a nation.
The Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP) — Government’s vehicle towards achieving an upper middle income economy by 2030 — recognises that investment in education is a key poverty reduction strategy, as well as a vehicle for producing a skilled and capable workforce.
Under the TSP, Government will prioritise the production of additional human capital at local polytechnics, teachers’ colleges and State universities, through the rehabilitation and expansion of existing tertiary institutions, as well as ensure Zimbabwe’s educational system is relevant to the skills demands of the economy and markets.
The establishment of a Teaching Profession Council is in line with the TSP.
Public hearings to solicit views on the Bill started on Monday and all Zimbabweans are welcome to contribute. According to a schedule provided to teachers’ unions by Government, the hearings started on Monday in Hwange, Matabeleland North Province and will end on March 14 after the canvassing of input from all the 10 provinces. Representatives from teachers unions, officials from the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education and Public Service Commission are conducting the hearings.
The council shall, among other things, issue certificates to holders of qualifications from training institutions recognised by the council.
A person shall not qualify for registration as a teacher “if he or she does not possess the prescribed qualifications; has, for any reason, ceased to practice as a teacher or been de-registered; has been convicted of an offence involving fraud or dishonesty under this Act or any other written law; has been declared to be of unsound mind under the Mental Health Act; has been found, by the Disciplinary Committee, to be guilty of professional misconduct”.
Nothing at all is untoward in this Bill. No one wants to entrust an under-qualified, convicted, unsound or undisciplined teacher with the future of their children. In any case, the public hearings are open to all.
We urge teachers to take this opportunity to shape the future of their profession seriously.