AT least 174 unemployed teachers will be hired by January 2018 as the Ministry of Education and Training moves to address staffing and other challenges in the education sector.
The teachers, who have until November 19 to apply for the jobs, are part of at least 3000 unemployed teachers that the ministry is battling to absorb into the education system as high unemployment- which stands at more than 38 percent- remains a huge challenge in Lesotho.
Education Minister, Mokhele Moletsane, this week told a press conference that for a long time his ministry was unable to hire teachers due to several challenges including the lack of funding.
“We are ready to fill 174 open positions before the end of this year,” Mr Moletsane said.
“There are open positions for four deputy principals, five heads of departments and these are competitive positions where teachers will be hired on the basis of experience and qualification.
“There are also 81 open positions for classroom teachers at post-primary level and 84 other primary school classroom teachers that need to be filled before the end of this year.”
He said his ministry pleaded with Teaching Service Commission and school boards to ensure that only unemployed, qualified teachers who have never practiced since their graduation were hired to fill those positions.
“Those with grants will not be allowed to apply for these positions as they are only open to those teachers who have never practiced.”
He said his ministry will not allow teachers applying for a transfer to be considered among the 174 as this was an effort by his ministry to address high unemployment rates facing teachers.
He said it was also important for all unemployed teachers to register with the Teaching Service Department (TSD) to ensure that they were captured into the system for consideration for employment.
“The year in which one graduated will not be a competitive advantage but if we were to look at it with a humanitarian eye, one would say it would be the right thing to do if 2005 and 2015 graduates are competing for the same position.”
He however, said his ministry needed to adopt a system used by the Public Service Commission where job seekers are considered on the basis of when they graduated as this would resolve the issue of unemployed teachers who graduated between 2005 and 2015.
For her part, ‘Maselloane Sehlabi, the Chief Education Officer Teaching Service said there were at least 3000 unemployed teachers and the number had increased after this year’s Lesotho College of Education and National University of Lesotho graduations.
She said government was in a process of undertaking a study in an effort to respond to the unemployment challenges in the education sector.
She said the study would look into the teacher demand and supply dynamics as this would enable government to know how many teachers were needed in order for the country to offer quality education.
“We must change the way we have been doing things in order for us to respond to the numerous challenges facing the education sector.
“This study will interrogate both the understaffing and overstaffing in different schools as you will find that in some schools there is one teacher to 100 learners,” Ms Sehlabi said.