Botswana Teachers Union, Maun Region met on Tuesday met with Member of Parliament for Maun East Goretetse Kekgonegile to discuss issues faced by teachers and ways of mitigating them.
Teachers decried increased death rate due to COVID-19, lack of accommodation and teaching material. One of the principal concerns raised by teachers was the lack of accommodation and escalating death rate of teachers due to COVID-19 nationwide. Botswana Teachers Union, Secondary School division representative Gaolaolwe Seisa noted that teachers working load has amplified during the pandemic due to the double shifts they have to endure. He also detailed how classes were divided into two to create for social distancing, as a result of this classes were increased with only fewer teachers to attend to them. “Traditionally teachers in the secondary division used to work half a day especially in the morning, the afternoons were reserved for remedial as well as one on one interaction with students”, he said.
He argued that this new change will make some students suffer more academically as they need to go an extra mile with them especially when it comes to school projects. Furthermore Seisa appealed for priority in vaccinating teachers as they are at high risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus. One of the contributing factors to teachers having high cases is the lack of SHE officers to monitor the school population. He added how most SHE officer employment contracts have expired leading to no screening. Worriedly he decried how in schools like Maun Senior no fumigation, has been done and is currently not being done after a student catches COVID-19 in a class. Additionally no regular inspection is being done in schools and there is a shortage of sanitizers in most schools, a risk factors to teachers and learners.
Primary schools Division Representative Gaothaole Boikwathao, expounded that they still continue to face accommodation issues. He explained that accommodation is a problem in all schools as some of the houses are dilapidated houses. Some noticeable schools with this problem is Matlapana, Boyei, Tawana and Sekgoma Primary. Boikwathao said that availability of accommodation plays a crucial role in curbing the spread of the virus.
He also lamented on the late payment of allowances .According to him the teaching fraternity is the worst area when it comes to motivation of employees.
Onosi Ramakoba of the Pre-primary division illustrated how shortage of classrooms and learning materials is a problem for the upcoming younger generation. He explained that they are educating a learner in 21st century who mostly require visual aids. He calls for education to be digitalized and provision of mobiles phones, computers and dolls to illustrate activities to children other than relying on methods such as use of Manila paper as a teaching aid.
For his part MP for Maun East Goretetse Kekgonegile said there is need for stakeholders to help teachers with sanitizers. He also said teachers should expect their dose of Johnson and Johnson this month as discussions with the Assistant Minister of Health revealed that their dose of the vaccine is expected to arrive in July. The MP said that these challenges contribute to a decline in student performance as the working conditions of teachers are not favorable. He later promised teachers that their concerns will be heard at the next Parliamentary meeting.