Monday, March 4, 2024

MPs call for peace talks between education ministry and unions

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) legislators support a probe by the ministry of Education and not a Commission of Inquiry as is proposed by Francistown South MP Wynter Mmolotsi.

Contributing to the debate on a motion calling for a Commission of Inquiry into this year’s examination, specially elected MP Vincent Seretse said he disapproved the instituting of a commission of inquiry on this year’s examinations, stating that it will not add any value.

Seretse stated that it was time to ‘calm down’ and resolve the impasse between the teachers and the Unions amicably.

He said it was clear that the ministry and the Union never sat down to negotiate over invigilation and marking rates for payment.

Seretse added that it was disturbing that the Unions and the ministry had adopted hostile positions against one another without engaging one another meaningfully to resolve the issue.

“I call upon the unions BEC, the ministry and teachers to rise above this posturing,” he stated, adding that the situation had been allowed to be contaminated by political influence, which he argued did not add any value to teachers’ cause.

He registered his frustration over threats by the teachers Unions against teachers who had decided to assist in the marking of this year’s controversial examinations.

“Power of the Union must not extend to non unionised members,” said Seretse. He said that he had hope that only the ministry and the Unions could resolve the issue.

Also against a Commission of Inquiry is Shoshong MP Philip Makgalemele.
Makgalemele told parliament that although he was opposed to a Commission of Inquiry on the issue, there was need to conduct some probe given what had transpired.

Makgalemele blamed the Botswana Examination Council for failing to negotiate with teachers on time, given that the High Court had long ruled last year that invigilation and marking did not form part of teachers’ responsibilities.

“BEC delayed in negotiating with teachers,” stated Makgalemele. “I don’t agree that we should set up a Commission of Inquiry but I believe some form of investigation is necessary.”

He said that the Ministry of Education should investigate, adding that its report could then be brought to parliament for appreciation and suggestions on remedial action for the future.
He pointed out that although it was not part of the motion under discussion, teachers’ concerns need to be addressed immediately.

Also joining the chorus of MPs against the motion was Maun West legislator Tawana Moremi, who stated that in his view a commission of inquiry could only be set up to probe complex cases.
Tawana said that the ministry pulled out of the negotiations because the teachers, through their representatives, were demanding a high wage for marking and invigilation despite the fact that the country was still recovering from the economic slump.

The Union had proposed to negotiate from P150 per hour for the invigilation while the ministry was prepared to pay P30 per hour for the invigilation.

“To bring that figure to the negotiations alone was unreasonable,” Tawana said on Friday.
Like Makgalemele, he urged government to address the teachers’ deplorable working conditions.


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