The Government says teachers without ‘proper qualifications’ will be relieved of their duties in a year if ‘qualified’ teaching personnel are available to take their places. Mark the inverted commas and it can be addressed shortly.
The Ministry of Public Service and Labour says teachers for years have been offered a grace period to achieve the required qualifications for their posts – either two-year diploma or bachelor’s degrees in education. There have not been enough qualified teachers available to replace the unqualified ones, and that some ‘unqualified’ teachers were expected to undertake in-service training.
The Government has a genuine gesture in giving teachers all the grace period thus far. Much commendable is the desire to ensure quality education by leaving the task of teaching to people who are truly qualified for the job.
However, there is a problem. Just what makes a teacher ‘unqualified’ for the job? According to the ministry, this is down to academic qualification – as the indication of diploma or bachelor’s degree suggests. But then again, the Rwandan labour market is increasingly leaning toward the creative industry where hands-on skills are more valued than ‘papers’.
If so, doesn’t the call that a teacher must hold either a diploma or degree or above contravene the push toward self-reliant labour market that values hands-on skills? The colonial system of valuing academic papers ahead of innate talent or experience has been proven unproductive in many sectors.
Rather than phase out experienced teachers in the quest to have those with academic papers, the Ministry of Public Service and Labour should instead be looking at in-house training and other teacher training short courses during holidays as a means to boost their qualification.
Just giving them grace period is not enough. Teachers have families to look after and going back to school is not something every other personnel can afford in life. Many would want to attain PhDs, but few have the resources to do so. At the end of the day, even teachers with Masters in Education might need further training at some point to cope with the demands of teaching.
The Ministry of Public Service and Labour should, therefore, instead liaise with the Ministry of Education to train the available resources. Seeking to define ‘qualified’ and ‘unqualified’ might not solve much unless the issue is incompetence.