TUTUME: Tutume McConnell College deputy headmaster Innocent Kologwe has appealed to the government to privatise some services in schools to reduce the workload of teachers.
"The government should think of privatising some activities in schools such as feeding, toilet cleaning and security. We believe the government is losing a lot in the current system," he said. He was speaking before the Presidential Commission reviewing salaries and conditions of service in the public service at Tutume Education Centre.
He said that teachers lose more time supervising these activities which are not in line with their job description. He explained that teachers are meant to teach students and not to act as prefects during feeding time or making sure that toilets are clean. "Let the teachers focus their energy on teaching not anything else," he told the commissioners.
He indicated that the teachers' workload is very huge even without some of the responsibilities which need to be privatised. He proposed that labour movements like Botswana Secondary Teachers' Union (BOSETU) should be given the responsibility of running some of the government schemes meant to benefit teachers. He believes that as privatisation is profit-driven, it will drive up interest rates and teachers would feel the pinch because their salaries are very low. Surrendering the schemes to labour unions would cushion the general membership against exorbitant rates.
He urged the government to overhaul the boarding personnel. "We feel it is an important yet overlooked sphere. The cadre lacks a scheme of service, has neither a structure nor any progression," he said. He added that the situation has left many boarding workers frustrated.
Kologwe said the student ratio has increased significantly and this should mean more staff and better terms and conditions of service.
He said accommodation and travelling arrangements for teachers on official assignments must be improved. "We find it deplorable and regrettable that teachers use zero-star accommodation like education centres and sub-standard hotels, while those from other services are better accommodated despite being low in scale comparatively," asserted Kologwe much to the amusement of the fully packed conference room.
He demanded a well-structured and detailed training programme for staff devoid of abuse and manipulation by those in authority. He said this would give the beneficiaries the latitude to either take up the training offer or other posts. He said often officers are caught up in the quandary of having to choose between the two in a hurry.
He asserted that since the introduction of school fees, bursars are at risk and work overtime. He appealed to the government to hire assistant bursars. He called on government to consider introducing the 13th cheque at the end of the year as a morale booster to education staff.