Outgoing Botswana Teachers Union (BTU) president, Johannes Tshukudu has expressed grave concern about teachers who are assaulted by students while on duty. Speaking during the 5th BTU elective congress held in Palapye recently, Tshukudu said as the union leadership they are much worried about and concerned with the safety of teachers especially those in public schools.
“Teachers are being assaulted by their students especially those writing their final examinations at secondary schools annually. Equally we get disturbing reports that some teachers have been assaulted by parents in full view of their students and school management. We also get reports that teachers are being slapped by their supervisors in the work place,” the seemingly worried Tshukudu told the gathering. . All these are indications that our teachers are not safe at their workplaces and something needs to be done as a matter of urgency, Tshukudu further held. He revealed that as a union, they are calling for the education sector ministries to come up with a national safety policy which will spell out the safety of both learners and teachers at the workplace.
He further narrated that it is evident that these days safety in public schools needs to be given some attention. “Both learners/students and our teachers are working under unsafe learning environments. Some of our physical infrastructure is so dilapidated that it is a health risk to both learners and teachers and this cannot be termed a conducive working environment,” he pointed out amid ululations from teachers who attended the congress.
The outspoken Tshukudu revealed that some schools asbestos buildings are being used contrary to World Health Organization (WHO) advice adding that some schools are attacked by bats leaving very terrible smells that is a heard hazard for the daily occupants of those classrooms. According to Tshukudu, some schools ceilings are falling; no window panes in a lot of windows in the classrooms, dining halls and labs, no doors as a result of termites or vandalism and some doors have no locks. Tshukudu went on to say that in other schools electric cables are just bare as plugs are vandalised, sewages are overflowing posing a serious health danger for the school and community around. “There are no chairs such that at times students write examinations on their thighs. Chalk boards are so old that you can’t see anything written on them,” Tshukudu said as he painted a sorry state of some public schools.
Other problems bedevilling public schools, Tshukudu said is acute shortage of classrooms in all educational levels. Furthermore, Tshukudu noted that there are some learners both at primary and secondary who take their lessons under trees especially in urban and semi-urban places. During rainy and windy seasons it means these learners must combine with other classes making the learning situation worse and compromised to say the least, the BTU president observed.
Regarding staff accommodation, Tshukudu told the congress that there are limited residential houses for teachers forcing some teachers to share accommodation. “Even worse married couples are forced to share with those that are single something that I suspect happens only in the education sector ministries. Some in this sharing business have families, some are single and all this makes teachers relations at the residential places a serious challenge that escalates to the school as a community affecting their performance in the process,” he noted with concern.