The umbrella body for teachers, the Botswana Teachers Union (BTU), has urged teachers to comply with the government demands that they apply for leave to go for holidays and to mark Botswana Examination Council (BEC) exams while dialogue with the employer continues.
“We haven’t forfeited our demands but for the sake of students’ welfare, the issue of leave days and hours of work should be set aside until negotiations with employer are complete,” said Rodger Solomon, Treasurer, BTU.
“Marking BEC material is a peace job and not part of their work and teachers should apply for leave,” Solomon said.
This action has emanated from the warning by the Ministry of Education that all teachers who wish to partake in the imminent marking exercise should first apply for leave.
“The issue of overtime and hours of work for teachers has soured relations between teachers and the employer, but we are urging our teachers to act in accordance with the demands whilst we dialogue over this matter,” he said.
Before the new Public Service Act was enacted, teachers unions and government engaged in transitional negotiations to try and iron out thorny issues that would emerge after the implementation of the Act. The issue of hours of work and overtime have so far remained unresolved, and negotiations between the two parties are ongoing.
“The government should know that we don’t want to develop half baked children; we want to develop them holistically hence we need hours of work to be clearly defined and a conducive environment to be created,” said Solomon.
The PSA dictates that all public servants should work for a maximum of 9 hours a day, of which the extra 1 hour will be considered overtime. However, this created a problem for teachers, as they could previously work up to 13 hours a day, extending their working hours to evenings and weekends when they engaged in extra mural activities and offered remedial lessons to students.
“Teachers need to be compensated rightfully to see an improvement in our pass rate,” said Solomon.