Some people still wonder why teachers unions and other stakeholders have been calling for teachers to be included in the priority list for the COVID-19 vaccination. It should not take a lot of convincing to show that teachers are amongst the groups that are most vulnerable to COVID-19. While it looks like the government has finally acceded to calls to prioritise teachers' vaccination, the teaching fraternity continues to lose the nation's educators at an alarming rate.
The logic does not take rocket science to understand. Teachers interact with many students daily, especially in our country where it is not uncommon to come across a classroom that has 48 or more students. It cannot be overemphasised that critical measures should be taken to support teachers in the global pandemic to ensure that teachers' and students' health, safety and wellbeing are protected. The government health system is overwhelmed, and testing for students supposed to be in contact tracing does not seem to run as smoothly as expected. Some students or pupils continue to attend lessons even after it has been established that they were in close contact with some who tested positive for COVID-19. Teachers have also complained that there have been instances, where some teachers are called to work, while they are supposed to be in isolation. Some countries such as Somalia and Kenya did not need a lot of convincing to prioritise the vaccination of teacher and auxiliary staff in schools. Let us for argument's sake say, we do not know how much longer teachers will have to wait to get vaccinated, then it is important for the government to temporarily shut down schools, until such a time when teachers have all been vaccinated. Let us not ignore this disaster that is continuing to unfold before our eyes! Teachers are human beings, they have families and their lives matter too. Our government seems to be a bit lax, in dealing with the situation in schools. It is time to act now, and protect both the teachers and students. It looks like Botswana is amongst the few countries still lacking behind in vaccination its population! We started very late and injections continue to trickle in at a very slow pace, with that said, teachers should have been pushed ahead. The issue of teachers and students is a tricky one, because of the overpopulated classrooms, as well as the fact that secondary school teachers, teach different groups in a day. Let us act sensibly and see to it that our teachers get the support they need. We are where we are because of teachers. Perhaps if schools were to close down until teachers get vaccinated, the government would then find a way of speeding up the procurement of the vaccine.