Saturday, October 24, 2020

Overstaffed ministry declared 490 vacant positions

While it had overshot its establishment figure by more than 1500 employees last year, the Ministry of Education and Skills Development (MoESD) had nonetheless declared 490 vacancies for teachers. 

This dramatic anecdote is quoted in the Education and Training Sector Strategic Plan (ETSSP) to drive home the point that the planning and placement of personnel at MoESD is not strategic in nature.

There are no accurate ways of determining or knowing demand and supply requirement and to be able to forecast. Talent cannot be identified according to performance and ability to deliver the required competencies. The Ministry has no new employee orientation programme, nor is there an exit interview process,” says the ETSSP, adding that currently, the teacher database cannot provide the planning tool. 

Another critical challenge is capacitating corporate services through human resource management processes to support the core business function. The verdict is as dire: “There is a lack of strategic thinking and strategic management to be able to establish a strategic direction i.e.; HRM strategies; HRM policies; knowledge management; and competencies (roles and skills). A draft HR strategy with little or no strategic content and a series of legislative instruments that proxy for policy, are available but not widely practised. Systematic processing of HR information is missing; subsequently there is no repository to enable knowledge management to function. With the absence of job profiles and objective-oriented job descriptions, personnel functions are ad hoc according to supervisory needs.”

While the ministry has a scheme of service with standardized benefit packages, there is neither structured detail nor policy guidelines “as to how one can achieve or receive rewards”. The ETSSP says that rewards and recognition “do not appear to be tied to any job performance or objectively verifiable evidence.”

On occasion, non-teaching staff is sent for in-service training. However, the ETSSP brings the efficacy of such training into question because it doesn’t occur within the context of a well-defined pedagogical approach: “There are no structured training needs assessments, nor are any training evaluations exercises conducted. There is no recognizable management training programme; organizational and workforce performance improvements are very subjective.”

The ETSSP’s recommendation is that the MoESD will need to improve its management and performance through improved governance, accountability and achievement as well as coordinating structures. The Plan also stresses the need to improve leadership and decision-making, research and information technology.

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