- Ministry refuses to reverse contracts termination
- 2 000 temporary teachers hired for Covid19 fired
- BOSETU, BTU questions firing of temporary teachers
Fidelis Molao, the Minister of Basic Education (MoBE) is headed for a fresh showdown with teacher trade unions who are demanding reinstatement of 2 000 temporary teachers engaged in the fight against Covid19.
Trade unions, Botswana Teachers Union (BTU) and Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU) are demanding that the ministry reverse its decision to terminate contracts of affected temporary teachers. MoBE is said to be drowning under a huge wage bill, hence cutting teachers.
In an interview, BTU president Gotlamang Oitsile said they demand answers from the ministry. According to Oitsile, it is premature for the government to dismiss the temporary teachers now. “Our representatives engaged with the ministry on Tuesday regarding the matter and we want the decision to be withdrawn. We are alive to the fact that COVID-19 still persists. It is not good for the ministry to terminate contract of teachers without any valid reasons on board,” he said.
Information turned up by this publication is that the ministry intends not to employ temporary teachers in the long run with the decision based on the fact that teachers are now vaccinated.
However, Oitsile stated that the schools remain exposed to the virus as students are not vaccinated. “With the placement of new form one students, schools are congested and it means that more teachers will be needed on ground to enforce the protocols. The students are exposed to virus as they yet to receive the jabs. Education has been hit hard and we need extra caution,” he said.
BOSETU vice president, Mogomotsi Motshegwa said they anticipate the ministry to stop its decision. “We are aware of the decision to lay off teachers and we have engaged the ministry pleading with it reconsider the moratorium decision. Although COVID-19 brought us pains, it has finally ensured that we comply with the Kedikilwe education commission which spoke of class sizes and we saw the classrooms decongested with teachers dealing with small student ratio,” he said.
Motshegwa also said that now permanent teachers will be dealing with a lot on their tables. He noted that the absorbing of temporary teachers eased teaching as it ensured effectiveness.
Efforts to contact minister of basic education for a comment Fidelis Molao proved unsuccessful. Sources at the basic education ministry intimate that decision has been taken to terminate the contracts of temporary teachers despite the ministry being approached by unions on the matter.
It said teachers will be laid off from January to February and the second around March to April. “The termination of contracts is motivated by the high wage bill. The ministry also indicate that now the situation of COVID-19 in schools has normalised. Also, the colleges of education have been advised not to enroll many training teachers this year due to financial constraints,” a source said.
Moreover, a few number of temporary teachers could be given contracts after the termination process has elapsed, with sources indicating that majority of teachers will be for primary level.
“When hiring the teachers a proper analysis of the teaching gaps was not done well across the schools. This resulted in a situation whereby more teachers were placed in schools which already have significant number of teachers. Some schools were overstaffed whilst others especially in the rural villages continued facing acute shortage of staff. The timing was wrong,” confided a source at MoBE.
Meanwhile, Oitsile said there are still challenges that persist in schools owing to the safety. He said that some of their independent report suggests that there are still gaps in schools. “It seems like the guard is dropped in terms of enhancing the health protocols. In some of instances there are no longer Safety, Health and Environmental (SHE) officers. We are very worried over why the government likes to compromise safety in schools following last year’s situation whereby schools were hotspots. New Omicron variant poses similar threat,” he said.
Ever since the pandemic, unions have been at loggerheads with ministry in relation to protocols.
Last year, BTU and BOSETU piled pressure on government to vaccinate the teachers at a time when the severe third wave driven by the deadly delta variant claimed lives of over 100 educators.