BEC, teachers’ unions in coursework war


The fight between the Botswana Examinations Council (BEC) and teachers’ unions over rates for the 2021/2022 cycle of coursework and moderation is raging on after the unions advised teachers to disregard timelines for submission of marks set by the examination body.

BEC has been involved in an unending long feud with the Botswana Sector of Educators Trade Unions (BOSETU) and Botswana Teachers Union (BTU) over pay rates for teachers marking this year’s examinations. The two unions and BEC have failed to reach an agreement on the rates with negotiations collapsing due to examinations body’s stance that it is not obliged to bargain with the trade unions on the matter since the teachers are not its employees, but just ‘casual labourers’. On Monday this week, the row continued playing out after the teachers’ unions yet again issued a memorandum addressed to their members to ignore a recent correspondence from BEC that purports that the collection of coursework projects from schools will take place on October 4, 2021.

This followed a leaked document from BEC, which reminded teachers about the collection of coursework from centres and spelt out the coursework and moderation rates for the 2021/2022 cycle as being the same as those for the 2019/2020 cycle. However, through their correspondence, the teachers unions advised teachers to ignore the BEC document, as there has not been agreement reached with BEC regarding the 2021/22 coursework and moderation rates. They also advised their members to stop any process of soliciting marks from students for the purposes of the final examination until the issue of coursework and moderation is resolved. Furthermore, the unions advised the teachers to cease carrying out both internal and external moderation for students’ projects until such time that the issue of the rates was resolved and not to undertake any invigilation of external examinations until the issue of the rates was resolved.

The teachers unions said they had a meeting with BEC on September 20, 2021 to engage on the matter, but could not reach any consensus. “The bone of contention on this matter is that while teacher trade unions hold that they are entitled to negotiate the coursework and moderation rates for their members with BEC as they have done for the past 11 years with the Ministry of Basic Education, BEC on the other hand insists that they cannot negotiate with teacher trade unions as they do not have a recognition agreement with them, and that teachers are not BEC full time employees, but rather, BEC only engages them as casual employees,” reads part of the memorandum co-signed by the union’s secretaries-general, Tobokani Rari and Agang Gabana.

They further indicated that the stalemate encountered by the negotiators has since been escalated to the top executives of BEC and the two teacher trade unions. “In conclusion we appeal to members to ignore any form of intimidation and threats that could be meted out by the supervisors against them, and report such to the unions,” they said. When contacted for comment this week, BEC spokesperson Fingile Makgalemele said consultations between BEC and teacher trade unions are still ongoing and therefore, she was unable to give any update at the moment. When quizzed if BEC is aware that the unions have advised teachers to ignore 2021 BGCSE coursework collection reminder, Makgalemele added that BEC had not received any formal communication pertaining to the issue. This matter between the unions and BEC is likely to affect the BEC schedule and timelines for marking and publishing of results.

However, Makgalemele said BEC is not privy to any impasse which might affect any of its examinations processes.

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