Speculation is rife about who will make the cut in the next cabinet reshuffle. If Ignatius Moswaane is not only one of the lucky ones but also gets an education portfolio, Standard One to Four teachers in government schools should prepare for a new, highly meritocratic order in which job security is not guaranteed.
When the parliamentary year begins in November, the Francistown West MP will revisit an “urgent matter” question that was deferred in the just-ended session. Moswaane asked the Minister of Education and Skills Development to explain “why Standard 1 to 4 pupils are failing a simple syllabus under qualified teachers; whether it is the students failing or the teachers failing the students; if she will consider setting an 80 per cent pass rate for every teacher; what action is taken against teachers who perform below average; and if she will consider introducing a confirmation form of attendance for teachers which will be signed every semester.”
In his explanation to Sunday Standard, the MP says that 80 percent is an efficiency target that successful nations have set and that it is time Botswana does the same thing.
“In order to gauge teacher performance, a target has to be set and indeed this is something that happens in every other workplace. If no efficiency target is set for teachers, how is the ministry going to measure their performance?” he poses.
One of the reasons that have been cited for poor performance by students is that schools are under-resourced. However, Moswaane says that excuse is invalid because from his knowledge, schools are very well-resourced.
“I have checked with the Ministry of Education and I know for a fact that unlike in the past when schools were under-resourced, today they are very well resourced,” says the MP noting an irony about the latter scenario. “In the past, schools had a resource deficit of 90 percent but the pass rate was high. All you had then by way of resources was one teacher, a piece of chalk, a blackboard and one textbook shared by all the students in a class. Today that situation has been reversed such that schools are only 10 percent under-resourced but the pass rate has dropped drastically.”
As regards what should happen to teachers who cannot meet the target he proposes, the plain-spoken MP sees no reason to search for euphemisms.
“If they can’t meet the target, then they don’t qualify to be employed. Teachers who can’t perform to the desired standard should be fired,” says Moswaane adding that such failure “violates children’s right to education.”
The gentler version of the sanctions he proposes for underperforming teachers is that they should “show cause why disciplinary action should not be taken against them.” Casting his argument in commercial terms, the MP says that teachers are selling a service and on such basis, the nation should get its money’s worth.
Moswaane has not met the leadership of unions to discuss this matter and has no plans to do so.
“I don’t have to be talking to unions and I don’t particularly care about being blacklisted,” he says.
The blacklist he refers to is of trade union-unfriendly MPs who, in the last parliament, were targeted by public sector unions ahead of the 2014 general election in a campaign to have union members vote them out of office.