In Zambia, 4.080 teachers have died since 2003. Education Minister Geoffrey Lungwangwa told the Zambian Parliament recently that more than half of the four thousand dead teachers were male. He said 650 teachers have died so far this year. So what’s killing Zambian teachers, especially male teachers?
Education minister Professor Lungwangwa told VOA several factors are responsible for the high teacher mortality rate in Zambia.
“We cannot pinpoint one factor as being responsible. There are a number causes for the deaths of our teachers. But of course it’s very worrying for us in the educational system because the quality of education depends very much on our trained teachers. And that’s why the government is taking all efforts possible to recruit trained teachers to replace those that have left the system either through death, retirement or resignation,” he said.
Lungwangwa would not categorically say whether the education ministry’s policy of relocating teachers to other parts of the country without their families accompanying them or Zambia’s HIV infections were responsible for the high level of teacher mortality.
“Like I just said, it’s not a simple conclusion that we have to arrive at. We have to do some indebt analysis to find out whether the figures of the death rates that I have announced are due to that factor. So we cannot make such a conclusion at the outset,” Lungwangwa said.
He said the government is making tremendous progress in its effort to recruit new teachers to replace those who have died.
“Last year, for example, we recruited 7,100 teachers, and by the end of this year, we will be recruiting 10,300 teachers. Those are trained teachers. We have so far recruited 6,300 teachers, and by the end of next month we should be recruiting another 4,000 teachers. So we are, as a government, recruiting more trained teachers to enter our school system,” he said.
Lungwangwa said there are more applicants who want to be teachers. He said the majority of them are male.
He also said the government has taken steps to make sure Zambian teachers are paid adequately.
“We are trying the best we can as a government to motivate our teachers. Salaries are reviewed every year through the trade union bargaining system, and other conditions of service are also put in place like for example housing allowance and loans for our teachers. We do the best we can to ensure that we motivate our teachers to remain in the profession,” Lungwangwa said.