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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

Can Deputy Minister be serious `firing` teachers?

6th October 2012
Editorial Cartoon

In yesterday’s edition of this newspaper, we carried a story saying the government will fire all teachers who decided to upgrade their education without first seeking permission from their employer.

Quoting the Deputy Minister for education and vocational training, Philipo Mulugo, The Guardian reported that the government would sack all teachers who joined two public higher learning institutions -- University of Dar es Salaam and University of Dodoma -- for undergraduate as well as postgraduate studies without an approval or the permission from the ministry.

The deputy minister claimed that ‘these teachers have contributed to the acute shortage of teaching staff in the country’, adding that to avoid being sacked, the ‘errant’ teachers should immediately seek the permission from the government.

We are told that the government’s move was also backed by the Tanzania Teachers Union(TTU) President, Gratian Mukoba, who is on record as having stated that before pursuing further studies, an employed teacher should first seek the permission from his employer, who is in this case, the government.

How could the deputy minister possibly claim to be serious in this? We ask this question because the acute shortage of teachers in this country was there for years even before the so-called errant teachers decided to upgrade their academic qualifications.

But, above all, with the current situation where there’s no serious investment from the government in teachers’ training programmes in terms of quality and quantity, the country will continue to face shortage of teaching staff.

Second, the deputy minister goes on to contradict himself when he says that to avoid being fired, those teachers currently pursuing their undergraduate and postgraduate studies should immediately seek permission from the government.

Now, if their individual decisions to upgrade academic qualifications created acute shortage of teaching staff as claimed by the deputy minister, will firing these teachers solve the problem or will it just worsen the already worsened situation? Or, even if these teachers decide to seek permission from the ministry as demanded by the deputy minister, will this move save anything at all?

Can the government sack teachers simply because they have decided to upgrade their education level without a permission from the Ministry? Does it make sense for the government that’s facing serious shortage of qualified teachers for many years to announce that it would sack those who decided to improve their education level?

If a father cannot give his child the best education because of lack of money or proper planning at the family level, and then that child decides to use his or her own means to pursue further studies without prior permission from the parents, will that child be disowned or punished? Who deserves punishment in this case, the irresponsible father who couldn’t facilitate his child’s education or a child who decides to find an alternative to pursue further education without getting an approval from the same negligent parent?

These teachers deserve minor disciplinary actions for failure to inform their employer, not a sacking as announced by the deputy minister. They made a brave choice by joining the university in order to sharpen their skills, and therefore do not deserve a sacking simply because they didn’t seek permission from their employer—the government.

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