Attorney Parks Tafa, who is also Chairman of the Botswana Democratic Party’s Electoral Board, has said teachers are breaking the law by instituting the no-pay-no-work rule.
Speaking to the Sunday Standard last week, Tafa said there is no provision for the no-pay-no work rule in the law, adding that teachers are also contravening the Children’s Act, which provides for a child’s right to education.
“The ‘no pay no work’ principle is completely ludicrous. It does not exist within the law. Teachers are effectively withdrawing their labour, and that is wrong. It is either one is at work or not at work,” he said.
Tafa’s comments come in the wake of a heated standoff between government and teachers over the teachers’ decision not to cover the backlog in the syllabus that occurred during the recent public sector strike. The Ministry of Education and Skills Development might find itself battling yet another examination scandal as students might find themselves writing examinations for subjects that they were not taught, should teachers continue with their no-pay-no-work stance. At the same time, students who will be writing examinations at the end of the year face debilitating prospects of losing out on practical examination marks as most of the projects in subjects like Design and Technology and Agriculture are incomplete and overdue.
In the wake of the standoff, students all over the country have in the last week staged crippling riots, demanding their right to education. Government was forced to close down some of the schools, among them Swaneng and Shashe Senior Secondary Schools, as the student riots got out of control, resulting in vandalism and destruction of government property.
Tafa, who also recently represented government against public sector unions during the strike, said it is disheartening that children are victimized by the very people who are employed to ensure that their right to education is upheld.
“According to the Children’s Act, parents can be jailed for refusing to take their children to school, and it is ludicrous that the very people who are employed to educate children are now refusing to do their duty,” he said.
Like Festinah Bakwena, the Director of Teaching Service Management, Tafa said it will be lawful if government takes severe steps against teachers for refusing to do their duty.
“Of course, there should be severe consequences. Government has to protect the children’s rights. Even the House of Chiefs recently resolved that teachers should be declared essential services so that the rights of children to education are guaranteed,” he said.
Meanwhile education minister Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi has revealed that the end of term holidays will be reduced to give students a chance to cover up for the lost time. Venson-Moitoi also said teachers will be paid for the extra hours they worked to assist students to cover up, but insisted that they will not be paid for covering up for work that they did not do during the strike.