Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Government schools students going without teachers as crisis rocks TSM

Students in government secondary schools attend classes without teachers, while in other cases schools are unable to offer students subjects of their choice because of poor human resource management by the Department of Teaching Service Management (TSM).

The TSM human resources management crisis has resulted in imbalances in the allocation of teachers to secondary schools in the South Central Region, which comprises 42 (Junior and senior secondary) schools.

This has resulted in many vacancies. In some cases classes go on without teachers and in other cases subjects cannot be offered. Teachers who are eligible for transfers have been told to hang on as the TSM tries to sort out the mess.

BOSETU Secretary General, Kwenasebele Modukanele, told Sunday Standard that, “this has resulted in understaffing at some schools and overstaffing at other schools within the same region.

Teachers at some schools find themselves overworked, while their counterparts in other schools are twiddling their fingers and the students are having the worst of the unbalanced teacher-student ratio.”

TSM acting Director, Matlhogonolo Mokakapadi, on the other hand, told Sunday Standard that findings of a Human Resource Audit conducted last year (2009) August indicated that there has been a tendency to grant the requests of School heads for more teachers without reference to the prescriptions made by the Establishment Register (ER) for each school.

“Moreover, there were other issues that factored into the equation such as incidences where some teachers had to go on study leave or training away from work thereby leading to unfilled teaching positions,” stated Mokakapadi.
As a result of disregarding the schools’ establishment registers, more teachers have been sent to schools where less or none are required, including replacement of teachers on studies without regard to the establishment register.

“It was against that background that a deliberate decision had to be taken to address the problem and that included deferring transfers outside the South Central region so as to determine the proper balance in staffing of schools within the region before sending out what might need most,” stated the TSM chief.

Mokakapadi says once a clear rationale based on the ER has been accomplished then as has always been the case transfers will be considered on their merits.

BOSETU is currently dealing with numerous complaints relating to frozen transfers.

One example involves a teacher who was issued a transfer letter in the third week of November 2009 from the Northern Region to move to the South Central in order to commence duty on 1st January 2010, only to be served with another rescinding the earlier transfer a week later.

It is understood that before receiving the letter reversing the transfer, the teacher had already left for his new station as he wanted to prepare for the Christmas holidays in time to avoid busy traffic.

The second letter was written by a different official from the initial one.
Mokakapadi expressed dismay at “such an abrupt handling of fellow employees,” adding that, he found it unreasonable whatever the justification, for a responsible officer to treat a fellow human being like that without regard to the effect that it could have on their morale.

“On account of the approach I have recommended to my colleagues in the department, even the findings of the HR audit I referred to cannot be a basis for such an unfair labour practice, and I believe should it come to my table, the matter will be given due attention,” concluded Mokakapadi.

Concern has also been raised that even if the relevant officers had considered the establishment register, things would probably still be bad because the current average number of students in classes stand at 40-45.

This is despite a recommendation of 35 per class by the 1994 Revised National Policy on Education.

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The Telegraph September 30

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 30, 2020.