With a few weeks left before the start of the examinations season, Botswana Secondary Teachers Union (BOSETU) could soon be locking horns with the Ministry of Education at the High Court.
BOSETU’s publicity secretary, Mogomotsi Motshegwa, says that they have initiated a process to file an urgent application at the High Court.
“We want the court to help interpret the law for us,” says Motshegwa, adding that BOSETU has already consulted its legal advisors.
The piece of legislation in contention is that which establishes the Botswana Examinations Council (BEC). The two parties have not been able to agree on how the establishment of BEC impacts on the council’s working relationship with teachers.
BOSETU says that establishment of BEC through an Act of Parliament effectively nullified what Teaching Service Management’s Scheme of Service provided for in terms of invigilation by teachers.
“That nullification effectively removed the function of invigilation from TSM to BEC,” Motshegwa argues.
That being the case, teachers want to deal directly with BEC (and not through TSM) and define terms of that working relationship. One major problem that needs working out is remuneration for services ÔÇô invigilation and marking – that teachers provide to BEC at the end of the year. BOSETU, as indeed other teacher organisations, feels that the remuneration is way too little and has to be increased substantially.
On the other hand, TSM still believes that it has a big say in matters relating to invigilation of examinations. Last week, its director, Opelo Makhandlela, wrote all relevant parties within the education system to ‘clarify’ his department’s position.
In the letter he writes that one of the core duties of teachers and lecturers is to invigilate.
“The prime function of any teacher/lecturer is to deliver the subject content/curricula one has been employed to teach. Inextricably this function is tied to the function to supervise and invigilate both internal and external examinations to ensure completion and finality of the teachers/lecturers obligations to his/her pupils/students,” Makhandlela writes.
The letter ends with Makhandlela making it ‘categorically clear’ to all teachers and lecturers that it is ‘their obligation to carry out this duty with all due diligence and in consonance with the spirit of their employment.’ Motshegwa’s impression of Makhandlela’s letter is that it is ‘clarification in the form of a warning because punishment is implied.’