The Botswana Teachers Union has warned that even more disappointing results should be expected this year because of problems that were created by the recent public sector strike.
Addressing a press conference to respond to the State of the Nation address last week, BTU officials said the industrial action resulted in students losing eight weeks of learning time.
“Subsequent measures employed by government to try and remedy the situation were ineffective as quality was compromised,” said BTU Treasurer, Mcedisi Solomon.
In the State of the Nation address, President Ian Khama also bemoaned the poor performance of students in public schools.
“Of greater concern was the outcome at the Botswana General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) level, where the results declined for the fifth year in a row,” said Khama.
He added that government has instituted a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the conduct of the 2011 examinations, and will also put in place additional interventions to try and improve the situation.
“We further recognize that for our interventions to be effective they must be accompanied by enhanced teacher motivation. In this context we are addressing matters related to conditions of service,” said Khama.
BTU said they will be waiting to see if government will live up to its promises and improve teachers working conditions for the benefit of quality education.
He accused government of taking too long to improve teachers working conditions, which affected staff morale and resulted in low grades.
“Teachers are grappling with acute shortage of accommodation, poor working conditions, and unfair disparities in levels of operation. All these have resulted in a shocking decline in the quality of education,” he said.
Solomon dismissed the President’s intention to harmonize the teaching service by reviving the cluster system as a highly challenged effort which will never see the light of day under current dispensation.
“This noble idea is defeated by the glaring disparities in the levels of operation,” he said.
He said the classification of teachers as essential services remains a thorny issue that will further jeopardize relations between governments and teachers.
“Productivity has been affected because the aftermath of the strike is still being felt within the public service. Emotions are running high and tempers continue to flare at the work place,” said Solomon.