April 11 2010: The Ministry of Education and Skills Development this week sank deeper into crisis following the suspension of five of its data-capture employees, bringing the total number of the department’s employees on either suspension or interdiction to 33.
The five say they were early last week told that the director of the department had said that they should “go and rest under a tree” and not to enter their office.
They said that the reason for their suspension could be that they were not able or had failed to teach the 40 casual labourers, form five school leavers hired at labour offices to carry out the work of the interdicted officers, resulting in 1000 Limkokwing Academy students having their scholarships wrongly terminated.
The Director of Labour Relations at Botswana Public Employees Union, Aobakwe Monnawaletsatsi, on Friday confirmed that they had met the Director of Student Placement and Welfare but denied that the meeting had anything to do with either the suspension or interdiction of some staff members.
He said the meeting was arranged to deal with day to day complaints raised by their members.
Asked if they had been informed about the matter of their members having been interdicted and suspended, Monnawatsatsi said that they were aware of the matters but that they were not dealing with it at that moment as the employees had been interdicted pending investigations.
He added that they would only do so after the end of investigations and if there is need to do so.
The interdiction of employees at the department, on the other hand, is already costing the country dearly as, for example, some students who had been awarded scholarships by foreign governments failed to go because the universities they were to go to had already opened whilst the students are still here with no one to process their scholarships at the department.
“Every day I see some students seeking help on foreign scholarships being led from pillar to post by some senior staff just because of the interdiction of officers who were supposed to deal with their applications,” said one junior officer at the department.
As a result of the interdiction of the officers, the source said that British Council has been contracted to process applications for some of the students who are bound for foreign universities.
In the past, the department used to spend around P20m for processing such applications whilst there were officers doing other related work but because of the interdiction and more work being given to the British Council, the figure is set to go way up.