As schools reopens across the country, the education docket officials face yet another uphill task filling vacant positions estimated at around 10,000.
In order to attract the qualified people to take up the teaching positions, it is important to provide attractive conditions, among them career development, adequate pay and social recognition of the profession. But as it is now, without a national database of professionally qualified educators, the process of recruitment is tedious and concern is rising over quality assurance in this process.
It now begs the question as to whether within just a limited time, those handling the recruitment exercise can guarantee to avail the teachers in good time to avert potential learning crisis after October 11. Looking at the recruitment timetable, the shortlisted candidates whose number is as high as 60,782 start sitting for exams on October 7, with plans to finish by October 14 if everything goes according to plan.
Already this will be three days past the reopening of schools, then there comes time to do marking, interviewing candidates, placement of winners, and deployment, all of which is time consuming.
Assuming that this time there won’t be any issues of mass failures like was the case in the past when over 85 percent of candidates who turned up for similar recruitment failed the exams, the latest the schools can expect teachers cannot be in less than a month.
While the teacher shortage was anticipated beforehand with specific data based on the massive expansion of primary, secondary and TVET school infrastructure across the country last year, plus the usual turnover rates in the teaching profession, it appears little was done about it until it was too late.
It is reassuring to learn that the government suspended all other public service recruitments to prioritise one of the teachers.
However, limited time and delays to finalise the process of recruitment will still have far reaching implications. On one hand, heads of schools will tell you that new teachers need a bit of time for orientation, training for those without teaching experience.
There is also concern whether the Ministry of Education will have sufficient time to ensure that only qualified teachers are recruited.
It remains to be seen that the basic education board now as to sift through 78,872 applications, administer exams, mark them and deploy successful ones where they are needed in schools without delay.
The government needs to operationalise a data management system for education, and co-ordinate with training institutions to track existing numbers of skilled teachers available, as well as maintain database to enable projection and planning ahead of time.
This can help to keep track of turnover in the teaching profession and ensure timely replacement is done with no effects on learning.