PALAPYE: Botswana Sector for Educators Trade Union (BOSETU) has argued that unless the implementation of school health policy takes place students will continue to be exposed to danger.
This follows the Matsha tragedy that saw 111 students hospitalised and seven dead after a horrific accident.
Speaking in an interview with Mmegi, BOSETU Health and Safety secretary, Monica Legwale, said that as the union they are appealing to the relevant ministries such as Ministry of Health, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and Ministry of Education and Skills Development to implement the school health policy that has been drafted.
“For as long as the policy is not implemented issues like the recent truck accident that claimed the lives of our students will continue to rise. As the union we are very much concerned and we are hoping that relevant authorities will start opening their eyes for the sake of our children,” she said.
She noted that there are many issues that are a threat to students around the country starting with the learning environment, which is not fit for them.
She indicated that in many schools around the country, windows are broken, ceilings are falling and the food that students eat also poses a threat to their safety among many others.
“Therefore, one will see that this goes beyond the recent tragedy and if the policy was long implemented many incidents of this nature could have been avoided because the draft policy also states that trucks should be prohibited as a mode of transporting students,” she said.
Legwale also believes that someone needs to be held accountable for the accident.
First, she outlined that the number of students carried by the truck is estimated at around 126, whilst their luggage exposed them to a higher risk. It was even more risky because it was an open truck hence students were exposed to the heat wave that has currently hit the country, she said. She added that people should move away from blaming the headteacher because the school head does not transport students.
However, the one that needs to be held accountable is the officer who was in charge of authorising the truck to transport students.
“Serious investigations needs to be conducted for someone to account for this recklessness,” she said.
Legwale also noted that statistics show that around 420,000 people are in schools whereas it is the very same population whose safety standards are not complied with.
Therefore, she said, this means that the greater population of Botswana is in danger.
She emphasised that the government should also implement the National Occupational Policy, which has long been drafted, and has not been implemented saying that such delays reap results such as the Matsha accident.
“We are advocating for political commitment on these two policies. We have signed the Convention 155 on Occupational Safety, but we lack political commitment to domesticate the convention in Botswana.
“We extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of the Matsha students who perished in the fatal accident and the nation at large. We will continue fighting for the rights of their children,” added Legwale.