Minister of Education, Science, Vocational Training and Early Education, John Phiri, has said government will not engage itself in a public war of words with teachers and other stakeholders in the sector because there were plenty of channels available to address all educational concerns.
Dr. Phiri has since called on teachers’ unions and other stakeholders in the education sector to first seek an audience with government before rushing to the media to issue statements.
In a telephone interview with ZANIS in Lusaka today, Dr. Phiri said his ministry was working toward bringing sanity in the way it operates and would therefore not engage in unnecessary debates through the media.
He said this in response to a statement made available to ZANIS in Lusaka today by the Basic Education Teachers Union of Zambia (BETUZ) who has called on government to quickly find funds to clear retired teachers who are owed repatriation allowances.
The Minister has since advised the unions to use proper channels and engage in dialogue with the ministry before involving the media.
Dr. Phiri said as a stakeholder in the education sector, BETUZ should not be quick to issue statements without making a formal appeal to the government.
Earlier, BETUZ Director for Public and International Relations Hilary Chipango said a number of retired teachers have continued to occupy institutional houses because government still owed them repatriation allowance.
Mr. Chipango said this has placed other teachers at a disadvantage because some retired ones have remained in the institutional houses for over a decade.
He added that the situation has negatively impacted the teaching sector especially in rural areas.
He reiterated that government must quickly source for funds and pay off teachers who were still occupying institutional houses in order to create room for other teachers.
Mr. Chipango further said government should come up with a deliberate policy of building houses for teachers.
He explained that this will significantly help in motivating teachers to go and work in rural areas and retaining them there.