Friday, October 23, 2020

Dow climbs down and withdraws controversial Bill

The Minister of Education, Skills and Development, Unity Dow  has succumbed to pressure and withdrew a Bill that among other things sought to force teachers to invigilate and supervise coursework for students sitting for Botswana Examination Council examinations.

Dow’s decision comes after heavy criticism from opposition and teacher trade unions who accused her of bringing a Bill geared towards undermining teachers.  

Teacher Trade Unions and opposition parties in parliament had accused Dow of coming up with a Bill that effectively sought to nullify a court ruling that had earlier been passed in favour of the teachers on invigilation of examinations and supervision of coursework.

The court had pronounced that invigilation of examinations and supervision of coursework was not under the ambit of teachers roles.

Dow informed Parliament when withdrawing the motion that she was intending to consult other stakeholders before she could allow Parliament to debate the Bill.  

Dow’s pronouncement comes after one of the Assistant Ministers in the Ministry Fidelis Molao  argued last week that there was no need to withdraw the Bill.

Molao was one of the legislators who argued that since Parliament was given a role to make laws there was a need to debate the Bill since it was the role of the MPs.

For his part the Francistown South MP, Wynter Mmolotsi had accussed the ruling party of  trying to use their numbers in Parliament to pass laws geared towards punishing teachers.

Mmolotsi stated that the Minister  was tabling a Bill that in effect sought to force teachers to invigilate and supervise coursework for primary,junior secondary and senior secondary schools examination.

Gaborone Central MP, Phenyo Butale stated that the minister  had failed to engage stakeholders such as teachers union before bringing the Bill into Parliament.

Butale said the Bill is intended to nullify a High Court judgment that was passed in favour of teachers.  Butale had called on the Minister to withdraw the Bill arguing that the government should not force teachers to undertake “forced labour.”

Last week the Botswana Teachers Union, Secretary General , Ibo Kenosi had threatened to take the matter back to court. Kenosi was of the view that in her Bill the minister was all out to reverse the court decision that was passed in favour of teachers.

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