Mmegi Online :: Establishment of Botswana Teaching Council - a step in the right direction
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Last Updated
Friday 18 August 2017, 15:46 pm.
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Establishment of Botswana Teaching Council - a step in the right direction

Speaking recently during RB1 Maokaneng live broadcast radio show, Minister of Basic Education Dr. Unity Dow, indicated that Botswana Teaching Professional Council Bill would be presented during the July Parliamentary sitting session.
By Correspondent Thu 13 Apr 2017, 13:46 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Establishment of Botswana Teaching Council - a step in the right direction








The Teaching Council is a self- regulating professional body established on a statutory basis - through an act of Parliament to promote teaching as a profession and regulate standards.

Botswana Teaching Professional Council Bill is  therefore a step in the right direction leading to the establishment of a long awaited Regulatory Authority for Teachers.

Indeed, given the sorry state of affairs prevailing in some of our schools, ethical conduct of some of our teachers, inadequate quality assurance in educational administration and declining headship standards in some schools, there is a need for a regulatory legal framework that would enhance adherence to educational standards and professionalism.

In fact in June, 2008, when addressing the annual conference of head masters of primary and secondary schools in Kasane, the then assistant Minister of Education and Skills Development, Lebonaamang Mokalake, emphasised that the Ministry of Education and Skills Development has been facing numerous challenges associated with teachers discipline.

Declining performance and status of the teaching profession, unprofessional conduct involving abuse of children, assault, having sexual relations with students, embezzlement of government funds, theft and working under the influence of liquor and drug abuse.

He said: “His ministry is considering establishing an autonomous teaching council for Botswana, and envisaged the teaching council for Botswana as a body that will deal with challenges faced by his ministry”.

To be precise, in 1994 RNPE government paper approved by the National Assembly on Educational Reforms, popularly known as The Kedikilwe report – recommended the establishment of a professional body for teachers. To date, 23 years after, such a professional body has not yet been established?

Many professions in Botswana have professional bodies. For instance, engineers have Botswana Institute of Engineers, (BIE) chartered accountants have Botswana Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA). According to (Harvey etal. 1995), a professional body is a group of people in a learned occupation who are entrusted with maintaining control or oversight of the legitimate practice of the occupation.

Lawyers have (LSB) – The Law Society of Botswana, human resource management specialists use (IHRMB) – Institute of Human Resource Management of Botswana, real estate professionals have (REIB), journalists have MISA while health professionals have BHPC. The question that boggles the mind is when will teachers have their professional body?

Unlike the controversial Public Service Act (2008) that ignores the culture and beliefs of schools and teaching profession, the teaching council - act may among others,

l Promote teaching as a profession,

l Regulate standards of professional practice

l Promote continuing development of teachers

l Maintain a register of teachers

l Maintain codes of professional conduct

l Maintain and improve standards of teaching knowledge, skill and competence

l Conduct research on a range of issues as required

l Provide advise to the Minister, in accordance with its duties and powers.

Therefore, its chances of success as

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a legal framework are high, once the Act has been passed, because unlike the Public Service act, it is user friendly.

Once the council is established, all teachers covered by the Act will be compelled to make applications and register with the council. No teacher shall be permitted to teach or be employed unless they have been registered. The council will register and issue either a provisional or full certificate of registration depending on whether the teacher satisfies the requirements or not. A teacher who is registered provisionally can be struck off the roll if she/he does not satisfy the requirements within a specified period of time.

The teaching council will receive and investigate cases, complaints of indiscipline, misconduct, fraud, abuse of office and privileges, etc. In cases whereby the Teaching Council  has a Tribunal, it will sit and try concerned individuals, and if cases have been proved beyond reasonable doubt bring them to the book, mete penalties and punishments commensurate with offence committed, in accordance with the Teaching Council Act and Code of Conduct.

Establishment of the Teaching Council will reduce conflict of interest, whereby unions presently act as negotiators on conditions of service and at the same time advise on professional matters. It must be borne in mind that Teacher Unions have distinct roles which range from personal support and representation to negotiation on pay and conditions of service and the Teaching Council is concerned solely with professional matters.

The council will act as a reference body to the Human Resource Advisory Council and Botswana Qualification Authority on matters pertaining to best practices regarding the teaching profession.

The time has come now for the 26,000 or so teachers in pre-primary, primary and secondary (private and public schools) who are the Key Drivers in the Development of Globally Competitive Human Resources to be afforded the opportunity to establish a professional body?

The Teaching Council would enhance a sense of duty and commitment from teachers. It would improve the level of Trust on teachers by parents, as pupils, children and students, would be deemed to be in safer hands, provided, the teachers comply with the code of conduct and ethics.

I conclude my article with remarks of Darling (1989) on Accountability for Professional Practice who asserted that: “Gone too are the days when school teachers were so respected in their office that anything within the school room walls was accepted as rightful and unquestioned, prerogative of school officials.”

I take this opportunity to lobby and urge relevant stakeholders especially Members of Parliament and politicians to support the Bill, and without failure pass an act on the establishment of this body, to help improve standards and quality of professional practice. It is is now or never.

Cedric Ramabele Molosiwa

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