By SIMON MUNTEMBA
HUNDREDS of children at community schools in Petauke are in limbo after their teachers reportedly deserted them following the abolishment of Parent Teachers Association (PTA) fees.
The teachers, working as volunteers who depended on the PTA fees for survival, abandoned 41 community schools, a situation which has left pupils stranded.
Petauke Central Member of Parliament Emmanuel “Jay Jay” Banda has confirmed that all the 41 primary community schools in his constituency had been abandoned by teachers who worked as volunteers after the abolishment of PTA fees.
Mr Banda said about teachers from the 41 community schools have stopped teaching in protest that they cannot continue working without getting something for their upkeep.
“The coming of free education is a good idea, but Government didn’t consider the teachers in community schools who depended on PTA fees to get some money for survival.
“Now that the PTA was completely scrapped, who is going to pay teachers in community schools? The scrapping of PTA has brought a dilemma in my constituency because the teachers have abandoned all the 41 community schools,” Mr Banda said.
He appealed to the government to consider putting the teachers in community schools on payroll because it was not possible for the public and government-aided schools to accommodate all the learners.
Mr Banda said 205 teachers were working as volunteers in community schools in Petauke Central Constituency.
But Ministry of Education Permanent Secretary for Technical Services, Joel Kamoko has pleaded with the teachers working as volunteers not to abandon their leaners because they will be given priority during the 30, 000 teachers’ recruitment exercise.
In an interview, Mr Kamoko urged Mr Banda to engage the provincial and district education board secretaries among other stakeholders to make recommendations on how to tackle the gap that has been created by the abolishment of PTA in community schools as they implement the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) School Bursary Scheme.
Mr Kamoko however clarified that only registered community schools would be considered from the CDF school bursary scheme which had been introduced for vulnerable pupils.
“The problem with our community schools is that not all of them are duly registered, and equally not all of them are grant-aided, that in itself makes it difficult to operate. I am sure some teachers are running away to the grant-aided schools or indeed government schools,” he said.
Mr Kamoko said the schools would be compensated for the loss in revenue as a result of PTA abolishment by increased grants.
He also emphasised that Government was resolved to implement the free education policy from early childhood, through primary, up to secondary school levels without leaving anyone behind.