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Teachers find little to celebrate on their Day

BABOKI KAYAWE
The possible categorisation of teaching as essential service and lack of consultations on major decisions in the sector, were troubling the minds of many as teachers marked International Teachers Day on Monday.

The Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU) president, Kwenasebele Modukanele told Mmegi that their members in tertiary education are sidelined in decision-making. He cited the recent closure of the Francistown College of Education, which he said was improperly handled.

“The closure of our colleges of education without consulting important players like lecturers or their union representatives is problematic,” he said.

“There are also developing problems of security in the education institutions from secondary schools to colleges of education. Teachers and lecturers have had instances of violence against them as well as student-on-student violence.”

Early this year, Francistown College of Education was abruptly closed as authorities said the Botswana College of Open and Distance Learning would occupy the facility.  Modukanele said the decision was against the protocols of the International Labour Organisation and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, to which Botswana is a signatory. The protocols relate to ‘Recommendations on the Status of Teachers and the Status of Higher Teaching Personnel’.

“All these are examples of shortcomings from the state and employer in an area in which they pledged to uphold consultation,” he said. “Numerous clauses of these agreements suggest that teachers or their representatives should be consulted in a lot of changes to the teaching and learning process including teachers pay, job descriptions, the curriculum and so forth.”

Modukanele also said the day

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was observed under a difficult environment as not much has been done towards Early Childhood Education (ECE), despite research evidence that it is an important basis for lifelong learning.

“Nothing has been deployed in the form of supportive resources either as personnel or equipment. Even now the training of people in this area and their current deployment are suspect. We are not even ready with a curriculum for pre-primary education and yet we already have people in training for this field,” he said.

Thus far, access to pre-primary education and quality Early Childhood Development (ECD) programmes in Botswana remained restricted to the affluent and urban dwellers’ children.  Last year, former vice president, Ponatshego Kedikilwe noted that only about 22 percent of children under the age of six were accessing formal pre-primary education in the country.

“ECD moulds and triggers learners to develop an inherent potential and culture of lifelong learning, as envisaged by the contemporary global human capital development profile demand,” he said at the time.  Also troubling the teachers, said Modukanele, is the intention to categorise teaching as an essential service as well as the amendments to the Botswana Examinations Council Act, which render marking a teaching duty.

Monday marked the 21st commemoration of International World Teachers Day, a United Nations observance day. The Day’s theme was ‘Empowering Teachers, Building Sustainable Societies’.



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