The Botswana Teachers Union (BTU) President, Simon Mapolelo, has said that they will intensify their battle against government over bad working conditions for primary school teachers as the situation is becoming extremely intolerable.
Speaking during the Primary Sector Conference held in Francistown last week, Mapolelo said that it is high time that government takes heed of their grievances.
“Primary school educators have been given a raw deal for a long time and enough is enough. At times they say we should fight fire with fire,” he said.
Mapolelo took issue with government, saying that primary school education in Botswana is the most ignored, undermined, unrecognized and compromised. He added that primary school teachers are the most frustrated, manipulated, and humiliated and even abused.
Mapolelo said that primary school teachers continue to work under poor working conditions, which is frustrating their output and leading to poor performance in primary school education.
“Our government should, in the shortest possible time possible desist from considering Primary School education as expenditure but rather, it should be regarded as a lifelong investment,” he said.
Mapolelo also raised concern saying that it is disappointing to note that government does not want to increase teacher’s salaries. He said that in 2007, a new pay structure for primary school teachers was introduced and added that although they appreciated the development, they feel that teachers are still underpaid.
“Teachers are unable to pay rent, buy good food, dress themselves or take themselves to good medical services,” he said.
He went on to express displeasure saying that there is high shortage of accommodation in primary schools, resulting in teachers using their meagre incomes to rent houses in villages and towns at exorbitant cost. Among other issues he raised, Mapolelo said that Primary schools have shortage of materials and have poor infrastructure.
“The Ministry of Education and Skills Development committee pledged to pay teachers all their outstanding allowances by the end of March this year, but as I am speaking to you, many teachers have not been paid and no official communication has been made,” Mapolelo added.