When he was still a member of Botswana Congress Party (BCP), Bagalatia Arone always advocated for reforms within the education sector. He was the BCP shadow Minister of Education and now has the powers to implement his thoughts as Minister of Basic Education under President Mokgweetsi Masisi, who is also a former teacher.
Arone on Friday received a petition from unemployed teachers and those engaged on a temporary basis demanding employment. “Let me thank you for taking your time and effort. Let me assure you that we are aware of your concerns and are already working on solutions. The President will host a press conference this week and announce some of the things we will be doing. I cannot announce now as we have not yet met with unions to discuss,” he said.
The fed up teachers walked from Mahalapye to Gaborone on May 19 and arrived on Friday. Their leader, Kesaobaka Ditshike read a petition to the minister and his officials demanding a swift response.
“Statistics reveal that trained teachers remain unemployed despite the fact that public funds were utilised to train them on various subjects and various levels. According to Teacher Service Management statistics, graduates from as far back as 2008 remain unemployed. The government, however, has continued to train teachers in the very subjects in the subsequent years without first absorbing the existing graduates. We find it extremely unfair that despite all financial, intellectual
Ditshike said they were concerned about some subjects being removed from the curriculum. He said they are worried that those trained in the areas would have nowhere else to go. Ditshike also said they have issues with short-term contracts given to teachers. “They encourage nepotism, bribery, sexual favours, unpaid severance benefits, unfair treatment as well as having teachers being dismissed for being pregnant,” he said.
The unemployed teachers also condemned the newly announced teacher internship saying it is exploitative. They demanded that the programme be discarded.
The teachers also demanded that some colleges be closed and be converted into schools to curb piling up of graduates. They also demanded that officers in the ministry be reshuffled on a regular basis to curb corruption.
They also demanded that the student-teacher ratio should match international standards with a maximum of 25 students in a class. The minister promised to respond within the 20 days that the teachers handed him the petition and was thankful for peace in their pursuit.