A study by the World Bank in 2005 concluded that teachers in rural African schools may teach less than their counterparts in urban areas.
Any trip away from the rural area, to visit a doctor, to collect pay, or to visit family may involve long journeys and involve missed school days.
In Botswana, rural areas teachers are no exception. Many of them are facing challenges same as that of their African counterparts who work in rural areas in their respective countries. Lack of services such as banking in their locality forces them commute between their principal working place and the next urban area.
Recently in Parliament, Talitha Monnakgotla – a Member of Parliament (MP) for rural Kgalagadi asked the Ministry of Basic Education if it is aware that teachers stationed in rural settlements struggle with accessing banking facilities and buying necessities on month end.
Monnakgotla also wanted the head of the Education Ministry – Fidelis Molao if they will consider assisting teachers with transport.
“Some of these teachers are based in settlement – where there is no public transport and there are no proper roads. These teachers end up leaving their schools for a whole week, a thing which has an impact on the overall academic performance of schools in these areas”, Monnakgotla said.
In his response, Molao said that the Basic Education Ministry is committed to assist teachers, in the remotest areas of Ghantsi, North West, and Kgalagadi Regions to travel to access banking services on a monthly basis.
“The assistance rendered is sporadic due to my Ministry’s limited transport compared to the numbers of teachers who need the assistance”. Molao said.
The Minister told Parliament that the Education office in the Kgalagadi Region has engaged sister departments in the region to share and assist teachers with transport. This initiative is also supported by the Village Extension Teams and is working quite well.
Molao also said that whilst the government continues to improve the transport service, teachers are encouraged to make full use of public transport where it is available and existing technologies such as cellphone banking.