We note that sometime last week, on 27th March 2013 to be specific, the PS in the Ministry Education and Skills Development released a communication to various media houses announcing the approval of the unraveling of the much talked about Levels of Operation in the Teaching Service.
Teachers and members of the public would recall that Levels of Operation came into existence in the teaching service in 1994 through the Scheme of Service for teachers that was introduced then.
This phenomenon was not only discriminatory to teachers against the whole of the public service, but it also discriminated them against each other. While the multiple grading and titling principle would allow the public service to progress along the lower scales up to the last C band scale without being bottled by promotional positions in the rest of the public service, that has not been the case in the teaching service. It has been a common occurrence that promotional positions would be found within the C scales hence, stagnating the progression of the bulk of the teachers at these lower scales. More to this, teachers at different levels would progress differently as promotional positions were pitched at different scales and salary bands.
It is in the public domain that since 2005, teachers unions have vehemently agitated for change of this discriminatory and unfair practice. The issue found its way in almost all the engagements and fora that unions had with either Ministry of Education or DPSM as the employer. The persistent and consistent call for change of this scenario by the teacher unions coupled with apparent drop in teacher moral could not be resisted hence, yielding by the powers that be, for that we applaud them.
BOSETU members and educators in general would recall that sometimes in December, we reported of a meeting that took place between the tripartite of; MOE&SD officials, DPSM and teacher unions over Levels of Operation (LOO).
At this meeting we reported that LOO was discussed in this context;
That the multiple grading and titling principle that is operational in government which designates progressional (but not promotional) path as being from the lowest scales of entry to end of the C scales, has not been implemented in the teaching service.
That the bulk of teachers at primary schools have been stuck at C3 scale as the first promotional position at that level is at C2.
That the bulk of teachers at junior secondary schools have been stuck at C2 as the first promotional position at that level is at C1.
That progressional paths and the first promotional position at Senior Senior Secondary Schools have been complying with the multiple grading and titling principle as enshrined in the 2007 savingram.
In view of the above the meeting then came up with the following recommendations which were to be considered by cabinet;
At all levels and irrespective of qualifications and of course subject to satisfactory performance as has been the case, teachers should progress to the end of the C scales (C1), then the first promotional position be pitched at D4 hence unblocking the battle necks that have been there at C3 and C2 for primary and secondary school teachers respectively.
The position of Senior Teacher Grade1 at Primary Schools be done away with and the first post of responsibility at that level being HOH be pitched at D4 leaving the school head at D2 after the decongestion of HOH and the DSH.
At junior schools, the ladder will be as is at Senior School, Senior Teacher Grade 1 at D4 and School Head at D1 after decongestion of HOH and DSH.
Take note that the norm in government has been that qualifications becomes a factor for consideration when one reaches salary scale D2. The practice in government has been that one would not progress to D2 when he/she holds a qualification lower than a first degree.
The above is what we discussed, had a common ground on and was yet to be submitted to cabinet and later brought to the same forum for further appreciation of cabinet’ view.
However, we take serious exception to the manner in which the decision was announced, the approval was announced to the media before we engaged on the outcome of cabinet. So, we are yet to meet the ministry to appreciate whether they were any major shift from the recommendations we made together and chart a way forward on implementation.
We would like colleagues to realize that we are in an era where issues are individualized and politicized. The teacher unions have fought this battle and fought it very hard since the inception of levels in 1994 and now the fruits of our labour are ripe to be eaten. We are not going to put emphasizes on who announces it and how, but rather our emphasis would be that the unions have consistently kept it alive in all the foras. We thank you for resilience and believing that BOSETU will do it for you.
Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union