Over 3000 teachers who are employed by government on either temporary or contract basis have complained that they were left out when teachers who are employed on permanent and pensionable basis were upgraded through the levels of operation.
In an interview with Sunday Standard, the temporary and contract teachers said their employer, Ministry of Education Skills and Development, does not recognize and regularly sidelines them even though they are very integral to Botswana’s education system.
“We have been employed by government for all these years but when it’s time to improve teachers’ conditions of service we are left out and a lame excuse is given that we are not permanent employees of government. But the reality is that we do the same job that these permanent teachers do. In fact, some of us hold even better educational qualifications than these permanent teachers,” they said.
Their biggest gripe is that they were left out and not upgraded when the Ministry of Education implemented the levels of operation in July 2013, which resulted in upgrading of teachers salaries.
The temporary and contract teachers explained that through the levels of operation, teachers at salary scale C4 were upgraded to C3, C3 to C2 and C2 to C1 respectively, but nothing was put on the table for them.
“We were hoping that the LOO would apply to all teachers employed under the Ministry of Education, but that did not happen. We don’t understand why we were left out because we are also teachers and we have the same responsibilities as those who benefitted,” they said.
They also revealed that efforts to seek answers from their superiors at the regional education offices have not been fruitful as no answers have been forthcoming.
“Up to now no one has bothered to respond to our grievances.
We are deeply aggrieved by this injustice and we implore our authorities to act fast to address our concerns,” they said.
Sunday Standard is informed that there are currently around 3000 teachers who are employed on temporary and contract basis in the country. Some of them have been serving as temporary or contract teachers from as far back as 2007 and they are still paid the same salary with no progression whatsoever.
“It’s saddening because we have contributed to the development and education of our nation but we are still stuck in the same place with no increments or any improvements to our working conditions. It’s like our service is not recognized. Some of us graduated eight years ago but we are still serving as temporary teachers. But it’s obvious that there is shortage of teachers in our schools,” they said.
When asked to comment on the issue, Acting Minister in the Ministry of Education and Skills Development, Mokgweetsi Masisi said it is up to the individual teachers to re-negotiate their contracts.
He added that levels of operation were only considered for teachers who are employed on permanent basis by the Ministry.
“The levels of operation did not extend to those who were employed on contract or temporary basis. I have not yet received their grievances but I will respond to them if they reach my office,” he said.
Asked how long one has to be employed as a temporary teacher before they are hired permanently, Masisi said there is no specific answer to that, as first a post has to be created after an assessment is made to ascertain that it is necessary and can be sustained.