The Ministry of Education and Skills Development has suspended six Shakawe Senior Secondary (SSS) teachers pending finalisation of investigations, for allegedly having sexual relations with students.
On the other hand more teacher suspensions are expected as the investigating team widens its net.
Information reaching The Telegraph suggests the school was hit by a high number of dropouts due to pregnancies in which some teachers and members of the Botswana Defence Force were suspected to be the culprits.
It is understood that somehow the Education Ministry through the North West region was tipped off about the wide spread of teacher-student love affairs.
It was then that the ministry launched its own investigations last November to establish the truth behind the allegations.
It is further suggested that subsequent to initial investigation that led to the six teachers’ suspension, fresh investigations are expected to implicate more teachers whose impending suspension is due before the end of February 2014.
Acronews Maseko, the North West region director told this publication: “Six male teachers were suspended from duties almost two weeks ago following preliminary investigations that revealed they were in love affairs with students and the number will increase”.
He said his office mounted an investigation last November after receiving the scandalous information involving school teachers.
He stated that the investigation team interviewed students, especially those who had completed their Form 5 in 2013 and now the investigations have been completed.
He however indicated that the alleged teachers were expected to appear before a school disciplinary hearing shortly.
When asked what would likely happen after the disciplinary hearing he replied, “I am not in a position to pre-empt the outcome of the disciplinary hearing”.
Maseko said they did not involve the police during the investigations as the affected students were above 18 years.
He indicated that Shakawe has a serious shortage of teachers; my office has hired temporary teachers to curb the staff gap as a result of the suspensions.
“I strongly warn teachers to desist from such nefarious practices as they tarnish the teaching fraternity and teachers are not allowed to be involved in love affairs with students,” he said.
Meanwhile when asked about ongoing investigations at the school that started sometime early this year, Maseko was non-committal, save to say teacher suspensions are expected to increase.
On the other hand Botswana Teachers Union (BTU) has said they have not been formally informed by the ministry.
“We had not been officially informed by MoESD about the issue but immediately after receiving the information, we asked our office to find out what really happened,” said BTU Secretary General Ibo Kenosi.
He said so far they had established that two of the suspended teachers are BTU members.
“The Union will issue a press statement sometime during the following week after establishing the facts,” he said.
In his remarks, the Chairman of Parents Teachers Association PTA, Isaac Simon, said he is very embarrassed about what happened.
He indicated that it is unfortunate that when this issue started the PTA was never involved and could have also played a meaningful role on how to deal with the matter.
He said that what exacerbates and incites students to fall in love with teachers is poverty among the students which is a real challenge within and around Shakawe.
Shakawe Kgosi (Chief’s) Representative, Mboma Diziro, also expressed disappointment on the conduct of the teachers.
“One thing that broke my heart is the fact that the school management did not even hint to us as the tribal authority on the challenges involving teacher indiscipline the school is going through.”
University of Botswana Counseling Sociologist, Selebeng Mmapatse, said MoESD has to conduct a survey on this issue and establish why this happens and thereafter find solutions to the problem.
Mmapatse cautioned: “Discipline alone cannot resolve the problem!”
However some time in 2013, a senior teacher at Ledumang Secondary School was expelled from the Teaching Service due to love affairs with students. In a dramatic turn of events, his headmaster was also demoted to head of department.