Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Unions and Education Ministry in fresh battle

The Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU) and the Ministry of Education and Skills Development are locked in yet another battle over payment for coursework assessment. This time, however, the secretary general of BOSETU, Tobokani Rari, absolves the ministry’s headquarters of blame and points an accusing finger at regional education offices.

“The problem we have with regions is that even when we agree with officials at the ministry headquarters, regional directors wilfully go against that agreement,” Rari says.

In terms of the Botswana Examinations Council standards, students’ projects are marked by more than one teacher, which could mean two or three involved in the process. Each one of them is supposed to get paid for their labour. This is the agreement that BOSETU reached with the ministry and this was the understanding of teachers when they marked students’ projects last year. However, when they put in their claims after doing the work, the rules of payment had changed. Some regions rejected the claims on grounds that they can pay only one teacher and not the other(s) who also participated in the process. Shop stewards alerted BOSETU office in Gaborone and its officials met deputy permanent, Dr.Theophilus Mooko, over the issue.

“The issue was resolved with the understanding that teachers should be paid according to the collective agreement we had with the ministry but I have given to understand that some directors are still resisting. We are still getting reports that those directors insist on paying only one teacher when they are supposed to pay all who were involved in the marking process. We have asked Dr. Mooko to issue a directive to all regions in order to correct this anomaly,” Rari says.

BOSETU itself has written a letter to its structures countrywide to clarify the issue. The letter, authored by Rari and copied to Mooko, regional directors and school heads, assures teachers that the collective agreement reached last year between the ministry and BOSETU still stands.

In a related matter that is also mentioned in the letter, some regional directors are said to be withholding preparation fees. These are fees paid to teachers to make preparations for examinations. In some regions, however, a decision has been taken that only teachers who were teaching completing classes will get this money, contrary to an arrangement through which all teachers who participated in the process get that fee. With regard to this issue, Rari also assures teachers in his letter that the Union has agreed with Mooko that “teachers who were involved in preparation, irrespective of whether they were teaching completing classes or not, should be paid preparation fee.”

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