At least 137 Agriculture teachers who had their contracts terminated by the Botswana Examinations Council (BEC) are considering taking the examinations body to court.
According to some of the teachers, they were on Friday told to leave the marking centres, as their services were no longer needed.
This came after 137 of the 153 teachers marking Junior Certificate Agriculture Paper II boycotted marking over payments.
“We had raised issue with our team leaders when we started marking telling them that we were not happy with the new composite payment system, which leads us to being taxed for allowances, which are not supposed to be taxed. This leaves us with little money and it ends up looking like we were marking for free,” one of the teachers said. The teachers also bemoaned they were never taken seriously by the BEC who kept on telling them that they signed contracts and should just work.
They said they made almost P10,000 in 2016, just over P8,000 in 2017 and now for 2018 they will make around P6,000 while they were told that their money would not be reduced. They also complained that even though they were told they would earn the same amount, teachers marking other subjects were earning more and that some teachers who complained had their payments adjusted. Even though their contracts have been terminated, the teachers have already received upfront payments of P3,500.
They said they feel the BEC was unfair in terminating their contracts verbally, while it is stipulated in the contracts that it should do so in writing.
The examiners said they were told that the remaining 16 assisted by their supervisors would mark the papers whose duty is usually to check.
They said they feared that quality of marking would be compromised. Botswana Sector of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU) secretary general, Tobokani Rari slammed BEC for the move. “When we spoke to them about a Memorandum of Understanding, we could not negotiate contracts, they say we can only be consulted. We were against the composite payment, but they went ahead with it, as we do not have any powers. It subjects compensation to tax. Government officials disappoint me. They are not
“He said he was going to have a meeting with BEC and would get back to me. He never did. I spoke to BEC CEO, Brian Mokopakgosi asking him to engage examiners, he told me he would not do that.
“I also contacted the Permanent Secretary to the President, Carter Morupisi who promised he would get back to me after meeting the minister. He never did,” he said. Rari said it was frustrating that he was talking about a national crisis. He said the move to kick out the examiners and have just over 30 mark the papers is unwise.
He said BEC was compromising quality, efficiency and the results could not be a true reflection of what they grasped at school. He said the exams body was uncontrollable and something should be done about the situation. BEC spokesperson, Fingile Makgalemele said she was not aware of the expulsion of the examiners.
“As of yesterday (Sunday) I am not up to date with the Agriculture examiners issue. Most of the issues we have been having with teachers are that of taxation. They want a waiver, but we told them that we cannot do that and they should keep their documents so that they can use them when filing their returns. The BURS will then determine if they should be reimbursed anything,” she said.
Makgalemele said they were disappointed that examiners signed contracts individually, but now allow unions to influence them against them. She said they made it clear to examiners that they should either do work as per the contracts they signed or leave so that others can be hired to do the work. Makgalemele said she was confident that the quality of the examinations would not be affected as after marking there is a thorough process to check and validate if indeed the marking was done properly.