A number of head teachers from schools across the country have been served with warning letters from the Ministry of Basic Education (MoBE) through their regional operations directors recently, over the decline of the 2017 results.
Though the number of school heads who have been handed the warning letters could not be confirmed, Mmegi is aware that some heads have been receiving their warning letters for the dysmal 2017 Junior Certificate Examination (JCE) results over the last few days.
One of the letters addressed to a certain school head in the South East Region states that his school’s performance declined by 10.18% in the 2017 JCE results from a previous 63.42%, which is below the regional performance of 65% warranting a warning letter.
“This letter is a formal first written warning that your performance does not reach the required standard, as defined in the Annual Performance Plan and your performance development plan. This written warning letter will be placed on your personal file for a period of 12 months during which your performance will be monitored. If your performance reaches the required standard, this warning will be retained on file, but normally not considered for disciplinary purposes after this period,” it stated.
It further noted that should there be no improvement, the director would have no alternative but to proceed to the next stage of the disciplinary procedure, which may result in dismissal. The head was given 20 days to appeal against the letter after receiving it.
Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU) vice president, Mogomotsi Motshegwa told Mmegi that they were aware of the letters. He said even though they could not confirm the number of letters issued to school heads and teachers due to their schools’ declining results, they were not happy with the decisions made by various regional directors and the ministry.
“We feel that the correct procedure was not followed as per contract of the affected individuals and their employer. Before issuing those warning letters, the regional directors could have given those school heads a chance to explain their side of the story as to why their schools did not perform well in the 2017 results. Performance contract also shows that the directors should always perform coaching and mentoring procedures where they can identify and find ways to solve the occurring problems schools face,” he said.
He also explained that the warning was punishment on its own. He said instead of issuing warning letters,
“This shows poor working relations between regional directors and school heads. We are also aware that there has been water shortage in most of the schools due to the ministry’s failure to pay water bills. When blame comes, it is given to the school heads and the juniors without looking at the root cause of the problem at hand,” he said.
BOSETU secretary general, Tabokani Rari said education in general and schools as institutions were intricate complex systems with various processes that need to go into them. He said for a school to do well, those processes need to be pulling together, and there are various role players that need to play their part and do so effectively for the school to do well.
“Effective school administration is just one of those. In fact, it’s a small microcosm of a wider set of prerequisites. Assessment of reasons for poor performance of a school should be done holistically taking all factors into due consideration. For instance, issues of physical resources, textbooks, class sizes, support by parents, the calibre of students admitted in that year, the morale of teachers etc.”
“So, for the powers-that-be to arrive at a conclusive decision that the dropping of results of a school is due to underperformance of the school head, then all these factors should have been investigated and results taken into consideration.
This assessment has not been done in this case and the director has jumped to conclusions that the fault lies with the school head. This is uncalled for and cannot be tolerated by the union,” he said.
Efforts to get a comment from the Minister of Basic Education, Unity Dow were futile as she did not answer Mmegi calls and did not respond to questions sent through WhatsApp even though it was clear the message was received on her end.