Schools are supposed to be safe environments for both teachers and students for learning to take place. We note with great concern the unfortunate acts of violence in our schools, particularly in secondary schools. Education cannot take place in a hostile environment where both teachers and students are at each other’s throats. As such, the incidents of violence against teachers perpetrated by students need to be condemned in the strongest terms possible. The recent case of a teacher who was attacked by a student at Madiba Senior Secondary School in Mahalapye is a good testimony that we are supposed to rethink about Safety and Security issues within our schools, so as to protect the integrity of both students and teachers.
The Madiba tragedy compromises the dignity and above all, the safety of teachers. While we have always vowed for the safety of teachers and students in schools, there seems to be minimal intervention by responsible officials since no action has been taken in the past. We cannot allow a situation where teachers are turned into punching bags by undisciplined and misguided learners who have the intention of making schools ungovernable. We need to introspect on these issues as a society to make sure that discipline is restored within our schools. The recently released results of Junior Certificate (JC) and Botswana General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) have shown a decline and it goes without saying that under the current prevailing circumstances of indiscipline amongst many other issues, we will not receive any positive results if the learning environment is not conducive.
While it is critically important that we all talk about Child Friendly schools, we must also be inclusive and holistically talk about a Teacher Friendly environment where both parties within the school environment pursue education harmoniously. In view of the incident at Madiba, we call upon Government to consider security issues within our schools and take drastic actions against acts of indiscipline of students who turned schools into battle fields, making them become ungovernable. Already the education system in Botswana is in crisis because of dilapidated classrooms, unavailability of teaching-learning resources, shortage of housing for teachers, low teacher morale amongst other factors and we certainly cannot condone violence since it will worsen the already struggling education system.
Botswana Teachers Union (BTU) takes this opportunity to convey its sympathy to the concerned teacher and the entire staff of Madiba Senior Secondary School. We also extend our sympathy to those disciplined students who witnessed helplessly the horrible incident as their school’s good name was being tarnished. We also thank the School Management for being prompt in acting immediately after the incident by suspending the suspect until justice prevails. We therefore believe that the School Management and the relevant Officers from the Ministry of Basic Education (MoBE) will take the necessary action to ensure that counseling services are provided for both teachers and students. The emotional devastation of both teachers and students cannot be left unattended after such incidents. Cde Agang Gabana BTU Secretary General