Secretary General of Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU) Tobokani Rari says teachers trade unions walked out disappointed from the Thursday meeting with Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Basic Education, Bridget John, due to unfulfilled promises.
BOSETU and Botswana Teachers Union (BTU) had asked to meet John last week to discuss the state of readiness of schools in relation to COVID-19 protocols. The meeting took place on Thursday. In an interview on Friday, Rari said they expected to be furnished with the crucial school readiness report that they have called for from government but it still pending.
The readiness report, he said, they have long written to Director of Health Services, Dr Malaki Tshipayagae on the 2nd June proposing for the report which he insists that it is crucial in tracking the readiness level of schools with regards to compliance with COVID-19 health rules. “We had a meeting with the Permanent Secretary and we expected her to submit the readiness report to us but to no avail. We demand that report because we believe that the readiness has to be institution specific and not general as some schools reopened while not ready,” said Rari.
He said the ministry has made a promise that the report may be ready on Monday but dismissed the promise saying it is not realistic as other classes are coming on Tuesday. Rari is of the view that the report should have been submitted prior to when large capacity of students are returning noting that this would be helpful in assisting to curb possible hazards.
“We aware of the situation in some schools from the assessment reports that we also part of. There is going to be a big problem when more students return because of the large number of students in classes,” Rari moaned emphasizing that school readiness shouldn’t be taken light.
In addition, he said the teacher-student ratio is another big concern that has not been well dealt with indicating that splitting of classes into two increases workload for their members.
So, BOSETU still opposes the splitting of classes noting that it presents serious menace on the quality of both teaching and learning with Rari saying we are bracing for nastiest results ever.
Last week Friday while touring some schools in Gaborone, President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi expressed similar concern of congestion that compromises social distancing rules in classes.
He then said government through the ministry of basic education has procured caravans aimed at relieving the crowded classrooms adding that government will shift to prioritizing education.
Another aspect of potential conflict between teachers and the ministry lies on screening students for temperatures as it a protocol that is mandatory across all learning institutions.
Rari averred that temperature screening is not on the job description of teachers but they have done it voluntarily stressing that no teacher should be forced unless designated as SHE officers.
BOSETU following the complaints raised by teachers over the matter, Rari on June 12 wrote to its membership rendering clarification that are not supposed to screen and keep registrations.
“Educators are not supposed to carry out temperature screenings and register students and visitors as they arrive and depart the institutions for the purposes of COVID-19 tracking but are expected to take usual class registrations,” Rari underscored in letter seen by this publication.
Efforts to reach John for comment hit brick wall as her mobile phone rang unanswered whilst the Minister of Basic Education, Fediles Molao’s mobile phone was off at time of going to print.