Save Our Teachers

News that the nation has lost 24 teachers to the coronavirus (COVID-19) in a space of two weeks is devastating. 

The number of COVID-19 related deaths continues to rise, and we must all play our part in curbing the spread of the dreaded virus. Teachers trade unions have been calling for the temporary closure of schools for them to be fumigated, and for contact tracing to be done effectively. Over the past few months, there have been many reports of schools being badly affected by COVID-19, and some teachers have even complained that they have been called to the offices, while they were waiting for clearance from health officials. It is common knowledge that the virus hit the world unaware and unprepared. Strategies were mapped, while the virus continued to ravage the world. Last year, schools were closed for a long period and measures were put in place meant to protect both the learners and teachers, among which were the installation of basins used for washing hands and soap dispensers. The shift system was also put in place to try and reduce the number of students and teachers present at school premises at the same time. The efforts are welcome, but there is a need for the government to do more to protect our teachers, which in turn will protect our future leaders, the learners. A statement issued and signed by Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU) secretary-general Tobokani Rari and Botswana Teachers Union (BTU) secretary-general Agang Gabana reveal that COVID-19 related deaths far surpass any of the other front line workers. That information is key and it should not be taken lightly, while front line workers come across multitudes of people in a day, as we all know in our country we have a huge problem of large classes, leading to unacceptable teacher-student ratios. Some teachers deal with young ones who still don't understand the dangers of COVID-19, which in a way increases their risk of contracting the virus. Teachers still have to administer tests to students and take test papers home or to the staff room to mark, and also homework books. The large numbers of classes increase the risk because all the students have families – some nuclear families, while some come from extended families – which further increases the risks, hence the urgent need for teachers to be prioritised in getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Teachers trade unions have pleaded with the government to prioritise giving teachers the COVID-19 vaccine, and are yet to get a response.

“On the issue of prioritising teachers in the roll-out plan of the COVID-19 vaccine, the National COVID-19 task team could not commit itself, indicating that the prioritisation would be done taking into consideration some various factors. The COVID-19 National Task Team representatives, however, indicated that the views raised by the unions would be considered,” reads a joint statement from BOSETU and BTU. We humbly plead with the COVID-19 team to act accordingly and prioritise vaccinating teachers.

Editor's Comment
‘Boraboko’ should face the wrath of the law

Still in Molepolole, a young woman was also reported missing, only for her decapitated body to be found inside in a shallow grave! The issue of missing persons has always been a challenge in our country, and a considerable number of missing persons are unfortunately found dead! Something troubling is the murders related to missing persons, which touch on an array of issues, including the killing of intimate partners, often referred to as passion...

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