Citizens in Zambia on Tuesday received a call by authorities to introduce aptitude testing of teachers to be recruited later in the year.
Stanley Mhango, Chairperson of the Teaching Service Commission, a government entity regulating the teaching profession, said recently that applicants for the 2018 teacher recruitment will be required to sit for aptitude tests.
He said the aptitude tests will be conducted in various districts of the southern African nation to ensure that only competent teachers were recruited.
The Commission, however, said the move was not meant to demean teachers but to improve standards and the quality of education in the country.
The move, he said, follows complaints from some school authorities over the calibre of some teachers deployed to various schools.
But the move, the first of its kind in teacher recruitment in the country, has received mixed reactions.
The Zambia Council for Social Development (ZCSD) said the move was a confirmation that the government has not been paying particular attention to provision of quality education throughout the system.
Lewis Mwape, Executive Director of the organization, said reports of failure by some recruited teachers to perform was a systemic failure by education authorities in the country to deliver quality education and introducing aptitude tests was a pedestrian manner of dealing with the problem.
“The revelation of the Teaching Service Commission must be taken seriously as it raises not just the question of quality of teacher training but also underpins the systemic failure of the entire education system,” he said.
The government, he said, should increase funding to the education sector and ensure that the Ministry of General Education allocates more resources to the Directorate of Standards within the ministry in order to deal with education quality outcomes throughout the system.
“We are also of the view that the resources for aptitude testing would better be invested into providing textbooks and other education materials to schools who are currently struggling with teaching and learning materials due to poor funding at the school level,” he said.
The Zambia National Union of Teachers (ZNUT) also believes that there is need to review the education structure in order to identify the real problem.
Newman Bubala, the union’s secretary-general said there were many loopholes in the recruitment process which have resulted in competently qualified teachers being left out in the recruitment exercise.
According to him, there was need to examine the recruitment system to ensure that the process was transparent and also increase the budgetary allocation to the education sector to enhance the quality of education being provided.
Others welcomed the aptitude tests, following reports of teachers with fake qualifications being recruited.
“We need these aptitude tests because of what has been happening in the teaching profession where we had teachers with fake qualifications exposed.
“This will go a long way in ensuring that only qualified teachers are recruited,” said Stephen Zulu, an economic and social commentator based in Lusaka, the country’s capital.
In 2017, over 500 teachers were found with fake qualifications during a scrutiny of their educational qualifications and some of them have since been fired.
Moses Mwali, a 54-year-old teacher, believes that aptitudes tests should be done when people were being enrolled in teacher colleges instead of waiting for them to finish their education.
“In our time, we were subjected to aptitude tests upon applying to go to college. Why should they wait until someone has finished their course?” he said.