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BEC, teachers’ legal tussle ends

GOITSEMODIMO KAELO
Educators commemorating Teacher's Day
The legal battle between the Botswana Examinations Council (BEC) and 18 Food and Nutrition (FN) teachers over submission of course work has ended after the former withdrew the matter in court Wednesday.

BEC withdrew the matter citing that it has since received the exam marks it sought an order for their release. However, the parties argued on costs, with Lobatse High court Justice Godfrey Nthomiwa then deciding that he will deliver judgement on costs on February 26, 2020.

The two have been tussling over the submission of Botswana General Certificate of Education (BGCSE) marks for the subject’s practical examination for this year, with the teachers withholding the exam marks over a dispute relating to the tax the were being charged by Botswana Unified Revenue Services on account of the work they were doing.

The 18 teachers from various schools in the country were engaged by the council to mark practical examinations for FN when a dispute arose between them and the BEC.

It is said that BEC lumped together the fees that the Respondents earned for marking with disbursements such as Accommodation and Transport.

This resulted in BURS charging the Respondents higher tax, as disbursements are not taxable. It is said that the teachers took the matter up with the Applicant requesting BEC to issue letters to BURS clarifying their earnings: Separating the disbursements from the Fees earned from marking. 

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With the BEC allegedly not cooperative, and simply refusing to assist the teachers, they then withheld some marks and requested for their issue to be attended to urgently.

It is said that the teachers then engaged their union, the Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union that then reached a deal with BEC to write letters explaining the teachers’ situation. 

When the letters were issued, they were not compliant, and on November 13, 2019, the Union wrote a letter to the Applicant advising that the Applicant should correct and issue appropriate letters.

The Union indicated clearly what BURS required.

Unbeknown to the union and the teachers, BEC had filed this an application for an order directing the teachers to submit the marks to the exam body.  On November 14, 2019, the teachers submitted all outstanding marks to BEC, who accepted them. But on November 15, 2019, the Respondents were served with court papers,” read the papers.

However, through their attorney Mishingo Jeremia, the teachers opposed the application on the basis that they have already submitted the marks. 

According to them, it would be a futile exercise, which is akin to a meaningless thunderbolt. They also wanted costs against BEC.



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