Proposed teachers' council faces challenge

THE combative Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) has warned that it will take government head on on the proposed Teaching Profession Council (TPC), which seeks to regulate and set standards for teachers in the country.

In a statement yesterday, the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) said the Council faced a number of legal challenges that would render it unworkable.

According to the proposed council, members of the teaching profession in government institutions are employed by the Civil Service Commission and that the Commission together with the Public Service ministry will be involved in disciplinary issues of teachers.
“A legal challenge will therefore arise since members in the teaching profession are employees of the government under the Civil Service Commission. 
“As the employer, the commission will have a legitimate interest in wanting to discipline its employees. 

“This is a recognised right of an employer at labour law.
“There is therefore a real risk of lack of independence and genuine self-regulation on the part of the TPC as long as the Civil Service Commission will remain the employer. 

“The commission may not ascribe the disciplinary role fully to the TPC.  It may want to be involved thus rendering the TPC subservient to the commission,” Artuz said.
Under the TPC, teachers will apply for registration before being issued with a teaching practice certificate.

The proposed changes are contained in the TPC Bill which is expected to provide for the regulation of educators, their practice and professional conduct.
According to Artuz, the issue of funding of the TPC as well as the manner in which the commission will be constituted also present legal challenges.

“During the outreach meetings, one source of the funding for the TPC which was widely proposed was members’ subscriptions. 
“However, there is a risk that some members may be unwilling to fund the TPC through their income. 
“They may mount arguable challenges to that proposal up to the Constitutional Court on property rights considerations.

“However, the possibility that the TPC may not be entirely independent will always afford unwilling members an avenue of resisting to pay subscriptions to the TPC,” Artuz said further.
It cited the already existing National Education Advisory Board and Regional Education Advisory Boards which were established under the Education Act (Chapter 25:04).

In terms of the TPC Bill that is currently before Parliament: “A person shall apply to the Council for registration as a teacher in the prescribed manner and form upon payment of the prescribed fee”.

It also provides that the TPC may, within 30 days of receipt of an application “grant or reject the application”.
“The Council shall, where it rejects an application under subsection (2), inform the applicant, in writing, and give the reasons for the rejection.

“A person aggrieved with a decision of the Council may, appeal within 30 days of service of the decision… to the minister.
“A person aggrieved with a decision of the minister may, within 30 days of service of the decision, appeal to the High Court,” the TPC Bill reads in part.

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