Teachers blast BEC for 2010 exams fiasco

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MASUNGA: Teachers in North East district have lambasted the Botswana Examination Council (BEC) for the way it handled the 2010 school examinations that led to the boycott of invigilation by the teachers.

The committee of enquiry into the chaotic examinations, headed by the former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Keetla Masogo, was in Masunga Monday for feedback on the 2010 examinations. The teachers who filled the venue, Ntisetsang Community Hall  gave their views on what led to the fiasco during these exams.

The teachers' comments in reference to the BEC were peppered with words like "dishonesty" "bad faith", "turncoat" and other negative observations that painted the BEC as the devil on the works. A teacher from Maruje Junior Secondary School, Edward Jorowe said when they were offered P28 as money for invigilating the 2009 examinations they were made to believe things would change in 2010 and beyond.

"The BEC said the P28 they were offering us was just an interim measure. They said they were going to come back to us in 2010. But we were surprised to find that BEC had increased the money by only P2.

"When we wanted to negotiate with them, they issued a statement to say 'Examinations is a sensitive matter. Our rules and regulations do not allow us to enter into discussions on anything related to them'," said Jorowe.

Mogakolodi Sekao from Mbalambi Primary School said they all believed the P28 fee was a temporary measure. "If you want P120 and the person you are negotiating with gives you only P2, it shows he is not interested in your services..." said Sekao.

Timothy Tabona from Masunga Senior Secondary School said all along teachers had been doing fine with invigilation of examinations until the BEC came into the picture.

"What worried me more was the fact that all along when things were going badly, the minister would appear on Botswana Television to say things are running smoothly.

"I was on the ground. I saw the horrific situation as it unfolded, but when I switched on the television, it was a completely different scenario that Mma Venson was painting,' said Tabona.

The teachers noted the disparencies between the teachers and other people involved in the invigilation process. They alleged that while they earn P28 per hour, the chief invigilators earn between P5,000 and P2,500. They also claimed that the assessor could earn as much as P40,000. The teachers suggested that as a way forward, it was better to go back to the basics and address such issues. One teacher even called for the dissollution of BEC. They also did not spare the Minister of Education and Skills Development, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi whom they compared to the Roman emperor who fiddled while the empire burned. The teachers' boycott of the 2010 examinations resulted in BEC hiring people from the street to do the job. Form Three and Form Five candidates were the worst affected as most of the invigilators were inexperienced.

Teachers who attended the fact-finding meeting were from primary, junior and senior secondary schools in Masunga, Mbalambi, Ramokgwebana, Zwenshambe, Mosojane, Sechele, Gungwe and other villages. The committee of enquiry consists of members of parliament, University of Botswana lecturers, Botswana Christian Council, as well as a BONELA representative.

Editor's Comment
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How can this be achieved when there already is little care about the working conditions of those within the private sector employ?For a long time, private sector employees have been neglected by their employers, not because they cannot do better to care for them, but because they take advantage of government's laxity when it comes to protecting and advocating for public sector employees, giving the cue to employers within the private sector...

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