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World over, many countries have realised that education is key to the development of the country and so is a teacher even in the midst of increased technology. According to UNESCO societies are now accepting teachers as significant change drivers of reforms rather than only being seen as ‘Variables’ that should be changed in order to improve the education system. From the UNESCO’s report, it is clear that the role of the teacher is critical in enhancing quality education. Following the introduction of teacher professionalism, the rest of this essay about teaching profession discusses features of teacher profession in depth, and then explains different professional reforms that have been implemented in Zambia and their challenges.
As result of rapid chances in the environment, brought about mainly to changes in technology, a lot of demands for quality education has being put on the teaching profession by the stakeholders. According to Nawa the Zambian Teaching profession just like many other countries has been under constant pressure to be more effective and responsive to the needs of the nation.
In acknowledging the importance of the teaching profession, many reforms have been implemented in various countries. In order to address the challenges that the teaching profession was facing, the Zambia Teaching Professional Act, 2013 was enacted through parliament by the government on 21 March 2013. The Act enabled the establishment of the Teaching Council of Zambia and to define its functions and powers; provide for regulation of teachers, their practice and professional conduct; provide for accreditation and regulation and regulation of colleges of education; and provide for matters connected with or incidental to, the fore going. The Teaching Council of Zambia has tried to address the challenges that the education system in Zambia was facing such as the use of unqualified teachers and failure by teachers in maintaining their professionalism.
The Teaching Council of Zambia defined Teaching profession as, ‘a job that requires specialised training in teaching and instruction’. According to Yang and Xu, a profession can be regarded as what an individual specialises in a particular area or skill that an individual pose. In this regard, they considered teaching as a specialised profession. From the definitions given, it can be stated that for someone to qualify as a teacher, they need to undergo training in a specific field of which they have interest to teach. Training is vital in any profession because it is one of the many ways in which one is able to obtain the skills. According Word Bank a teacher must be prepared in both the traditional and non-traditional skills. They referred to traditional skills as those to do with content knowledge and the non-traditional to do with social- emotion skills.
The teaching profession has many features of which one of them according to Simuyaba and Chibwe is that it is based on specialised knowledge and skill. They further stated that teachers require high degree of knowledge and skills which are done before entering the profession. Acquisition of knowledge is very important as this acts as a base on which new knowledge will be laid upon. In Zambia many students obtain different teaching professional skills in different programmes at different levels such as diploma, degree, masters and Post graduate. However, teachers mostly are enrolled in diploma and degree courses.
Another feature of a profession according to Banja is that there is control of entry into the profession through licensing and accreditation. For one to be a member the teaching profession, they must be registered and obtain a licence.
The other feature according to Simuyaba and Chibwe is that a profession demands competence from its members and that this can be determined by the type of qualification and training and the experience needed. Competence usually comes when one has the right skill for the job and is experienced. The Zambian Education system is such that graduates with Certificates and Diplomas should only teach at junior level and those with Degrees and Masters should teach at Senior level.
Simuyaba and Chibwe, highlighted another feature of a profession as that of having the codes of conduct for every member. Similarly, UNESCO stated that in many professions there exists a code of ethics that guides the practices of the professionals. Just like the health profession has the codes of conduct, in Zambia we have the Teaching profession (Code of Ethics) regulation which was gazetted in January 2018 under the statutory instrument no 1 of 2018. The codes of ethics have helped in ensuring that the behaviour of the teacher in Zambia is professional
There are many teacher’s professionalism reforms that has been implemented in Zambia, but in this paper will only concentrate on the reforms to do with Teaching Council of Zambia (TCZ) accreditation of teacher, teachers’ continuous professional development and teacher recruitment policy.
As earlier stated in the introduction, TCZ is a statutory body which deals with professional standards in the teaching profession. some of its function under the Teaching professional act is to provide for the regulation of teachers, their practice and professional conduct and provide for the accreditation and regulation of colleges of education.
Upon the establishment of TCZ, a directive was made by the Ministry of Education in 2016 in which every teacher was required to register with the TCZ. After successful registration, teachers were issued with the Teachers licenses. This gave them the mandate to qualify to teach as a teacher. Teaching profession Act, 5 2013 went further and defined who a teach is, ‘ a person who is qualified, registered and teaches or instructs, head of school, a principal or lecturer of a college of education, a technical education instructor, a head of department of education or an education unit at any other education institution, other than a university’. Under the Teaching profession Act No 5 of 2013 any one found teaching without a license can be prosecuted.
The implication of this reform has been that because only qualified teachers have been allowed to teach quality in education has improved. However, having a license to teach does not necessary mean one is a good teacher. With a lot of technological changes happening one needs to continuously upgrade themselves.
While licensing of teachers and Head teachers has resolved the issue of having unqualified removed from the system, it has not fully resolved the issue of quality education. One of the challenges of teachers licensing according to Ellili-Chief at al. is unquestioned belief that certification is an end product and therefore will generally improve the education process and hence the performance of the students. According to Moono cited in Zambia UNESCO Zambia Policy Review 2016, Unqualified teachers were found in Zambian classrooms and that the existing teachers had little or no room for professional development. From the article of Mono, we can see that the problem of quality education is also related to failure to engage in continuous professional development. It is therefore important not to fully conclude that the issue of quality has been fully resolved in Zambia because all teachers are licensed. The issue of quality is sometimes complex because it touches many issues. However, the nation is heading in the right direction.
Most of the Teachers have little knowledge about the function of the Teaching Council of Zambia (TCZ). As a result, they have failed to fully understand the benefits of obtaining a teacher’s license. If teachers are made to understand some of the benefits such as, protecting the teaching profession where they belong, then it will force most teachers research on what TCZ is all about.
There is still a challenge with teachers who first obtained a professional qualification either at degree or master’s level when they do a diploma pedagogical course whither, they will only be considered as a diploma level. The challenge is how to motivate such individuals who want to join the profession.
Before the establishment of the Teaching Council of Zambia. There were other bodies that where carrying out the exercise of accreditation. The challenge now is that accreditation is made to be done twice, there is need therefore to harmonize the works.
From way back, Zambia had intentions of establishing a body that was to look into the issues which the teaching profession was facing such as anyone entering the profession without proper qualification and licensing. According to Banja, Zambian Ministry of Education (MOE) as far as 1977 recognised there was no professional body. Ministry of Health Policy document, educating our Future National Policy on Education, ‘The Ministry recognises the need for a Professional teacher’s body that would set and maintain the highest professional standards among teachers. Zambia in 20 13 as earlier indicated, through parliament enacted Teaching Profession Act, no 5 2013 which give way to the establishment of the Teaching Council of Zambia on 21st March 2013. The Teaching Council of Zambia (TCZ) is the long-awaited professional body of standards in Zambia.
With the coming up of the professional body, what it implies is that once a person registers as a teacher and obtains a license, they automatically become members of the teacher’s professional body and should abide by its rules and regulations. For this reason, The Teaching Profession Act No. 5 2013, defines a teacher as, ‘ a person who is qualified, registered and teaches or instructs, head of school, a principal or lecturer of a college of education, a technical education instructor, a head of department of education or an education unit at any other education institution, other than a university’. The key issues that arise in the definition is that a person must be registered and qualified. Anyone who does not abide by the rules can be prosecuted using the Zambia, Teaching Profession.
For a person to be qualified, they must go under training and be certified as qualified. In Zambia training in teaching qualification is from diploma, degree, masters and PhD thou few at PhD level. With the coming up of the Teaching Profession Act, No, 5 2013 and the Teaching Council of Zambia only people with diplomas and Degree upwards are allowed to teach in secondary schools. Again, while in secondary schools, only teachers with digress upwards are allowed to teach the senior students. This is to ensure only teachers with the right skills and qualification teach the required level of students.
The pressure put on the teachers to provide quality education means that the teachers must continuously upgrade themselves in order to meet the demands of offering quality education. According to Barber and Mourshed cited in Zhu et al. in their work quoted Mckinsey report of 2007 which argues that, “the quality of an education system cannot exceed the quality of its teacher’. For quality education to take place in schools, teachers should have the skill to teach of which it can be mainly obtained through training.
According to Ministry of Education, a policy document of the Ministry of Education, ‘Educating Our Future’, suggests strategic approaches for In-service teacher education:
In relation to the strategies above, the programs of In-service for Term (SPRINT) was launched in 2000 by the Ministry of Education as a Framework for life-long learning for teachers in schools. The purpose of the programmes was to promote quality training in education. Although many were trained as in-service, there are some who never benefited. The current CPD which has been adopted is the School Based Continuous Professional Development (SBCPD). The purpose of this system of professional development According to the Ministry of Edu Teacher Continuous Professional Development (CPD) is to improve teaching and learning through lesson study.
The challenge with the first system of CPD, the In-service for Term (SPRINT) is that not all school implemented the system as a result only a few benefited. The challenges put forward with the current system of continuous professional development called the School Based Continuous Professional Development (SBCPD), According to the MoE is that teachers are overloaded and with other school programmes and they see this programme as an extra burden on them. Failure to appreciate the system usually creates the problem.
The Sustainability of SBCPD. If most teachers and Head teachers, see it as a burden then it will not receive much support and there leading to failure. The other problem is that once the donors have gone then it becomes difficult to run certain workshops.
Zambia has moved a mile stone in establishing The Teaching Profession Act No 5 2013, Teaching Council of Zambia and Teaching Codes of Ethics. These Acts are critical for ensuring quality education in Zambia. Most of the mushrooming school which were being opened without proper facilities have ceased. The licencing of all the Teachers has also help in ensuring that only people qualified are able to teach.
There are still some challenges which Zambian education system must address such as. The negative altitude over licensing system. The Ministry of Education should continue the exercise of sensitisation especially where teachers are made to see the benefits. The other challenge is how to completely ensure that only quailed teachers teach, the problem here is that vey few qualified personnel are attract to these areas, as a result as well wiser voluntiat to teacher sometimes suoortee by the NCO.
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