Botswana public secondary school students will be able to sit for their examinations next week following a court ruling stopping teachers from boycotting invigilating the examinations.
Lobatse High Court Judge Justice Lesetedi on Friday threw out an urgent application by Botswana Secondary Teachers Union against the Teaching Service Management.
The court further ruled that the teachers shall continue as expected to invigilate at the schools’ examinations which are set to commence next week.
Upon hearing Attorney Plato Gaoboi’s application on behalf of BOSETU and state counsel Nchunga Nchunga, Justice Lesetedi “dismissed with leave to reinstitute in the normal cause” the application by BOSETU.
Lesetedi held that it would be irresponsible of him if, in his consideration of the particulars of the matter, he were to grant BOSETU’s submission that its members are not duty bound to carry out their tasks as ordered by TSM.
Justice Lesetedi indicated that there would be a serious crisis if the Union’s proposal were to find favour, mainly given the fact that the space of time between now and the examinations time does not leave TSM with any realistic chance to find alternative staff to replace the teachers for invigilating and marking the exam papers.
Kgosiesele Modukanele, Secretary General of BOSETU, said that their urgent application to have the court deliberate on the matter in which they submitted that the invigilation and marking of external examinations cannot be said to be part of their duty, was motivated by a letter which they perceived as threats to their “safety” from TSM.
“I therefore want to make it categorically clear to all teachers/lecturers regardless of their position; that it is their obligation to carry out this duty with all due diligence and in consonance with the spirit of their employment,” read part of the letter addressed to all teachers and schools.
However, the High court Judge avoided making any pronouncements on the merits of the party’s submissions, adding that if BOSETU should be aggrieved by TSM’s decision they still have the option of seeking redress after carrying out the enormous task before them, rather than jeopardize the examinations.
The Court further ordered that the respondents are granted the costs of the application on an attorney and client scale.
Given the prevalence of opportunism in the local trade unions and, in particular, the lack of cohesion between teachers unions as recently exemplified by the disparate positions adopted by the BTU and BOSETU on their relationship with BEC in respect of the concerns at issue, it remains to be seen whether TSM’s bully tactics will cow the teachers into docile submission.