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MoESD, Unions bandage solution not so tight

Exam supervision to be mandatory duties for teachers

The Ministry of Education and Skills Development (MoESD) has finally struck a deal with teachers over this year’s examination invigilation and course work allowance rate as a bandage measure to avoid examination crisis.

Following months of disagreement over whether or not the Ministry was legally empowered to increase allowance rates, the Ministry on Monday this week agreed with the Teachers unions to increase the invigilation and course work rate by six percent (6%).

In a closed door meeting held in Gaborone, the parties agreed that the Invigilation rate will increase from P58.90 to P62.45 per hour while the Course work assessment increases from P37.50 to P39.75 per candidate per script marked. Each teacher is expected to mark their student’s work.

According to the agreement which was signed by the employer and the unions, Botswana Teachers Union (BTU) and Botswana Secondary School Teachers Union (BOSETU), other teachers including senior teachers who would take part in preparations for the examinations would be paid for their roles as well.

The agreement was reached following protests by teachers by way of refusing to submit marks for coursework and threats that they would sabotage the invigilation unless reasonable rates are agreed upon.

“It's worth acknowledging that all these happen because of the backing of yourselves as members comrades, and we would like to thank you for your resilience. When we requested that you hold on to the marks of course work, you responded positively and the pressure was felt on the other side. For that comrades as the leadership, we are indebted for your support,” BOSETU wrote to its members soon after the deal was signed.

BOSETU’s Secretary General, Tobokani Rari says the unions would now be focusing on negotiating for marking rates with the Botswana Examination Council (BEC).

“We are moving into yet another terrain, engaging BEC on a memorandum of understanding that will define our engagement with them. We intend to engage BEC on marking rates, allowances, hours of work during marking and conditions of work at the marking centres. We as usual would depend on your support to negotiate better marking rates and conditions,” Rari encouraged the teachers.

BEC is solely responsible for school final examinations and teachers who are employees of the MoESD say they would not do any extra work that is not in their job description without extra pay.

Meanwhile the MoESD is planning to change laws to force teachers to supervise examinations without extra pay. The Botswana Examinations Council Amendment Act which is expected to be debated in the next sitting of Parliament seeks to make invigilation and supervision of the examinations part of teacher’s mandatory duties.

“The invigilation or supervision of coursework arising or relating to all examinable subjects offered in an examination centres shall remain the responsibility of such examination centre,” reads part of the proposed amendment before adding that “the employer may at any time direct a person employed as a teacher in an examination centre to invigilate or supervise candidates sitting for an examination.”

The amendment further proposes that the duty to supervise course work shall include the duty to interpret coursework and its assessment including submission of the necessary course reports in so far as it relates to the final examination grade.

All course work scripts and subsequent reports shall however remain the property of the Council.

This move by the Ministry has angered the unions, and they plan to sue the Ministry over the betrayal of the worker’s bargaining anchor.

“We are aware comrades of the attempt to reverse the gains made in this regard through a draft BEC bill that has been published in the government gazette of 21st August 2015 that seeks to cede the duties of the BEC to Examination Centres and teachers. We are working around the clock to consult legal brains on the matter in a view to later take appropriate action as would be advised,” Rari further informed members of his union this week.

Conflict background

It all started in 2008 with a protest by teachers that it cannot be, that employees of an autonomous entity (MoESD) could be engaged to do duties for another autonomous entity (BEC) which is a creature of Parliament. A back to back war of words ensued with the Ministry.

“Irresistibly pressure was mounted by BOSETU with some pressurizing the union to seek legal interpretation on the matter. However lawyers advised that courts don't just interpret the law without a life dispute, and as such someone has to be charged to create fodder for the courts to intervene,” Rari explained.

BOSETU then provoked a life dispute by writing to the Ministry informing it that its members would not perform functions of the BEC, and the Ministry wrote to instruct teachers that it is part of their duty to invigilate.

The two parties were now clearly on a collision course and BOSETU took government to court where Justice Mphapi Phumaphi agreed with BOSETU assertion that, “Parliament in its wisdom created BEC deliberately to cede examination functions to a different entity and it is erroneous to argue that such functions are for teachers who are employees of a different organ.”

“During that time teachers were extremely exploited, doing this BEC work purely for nothing. Invigilation was not remunerated and teachers were paid P1 for marking a student project,” Rari pointed out.

However since the outcome of the case the unions engaged with the Ministry on a yearly basis producing agreements of better rates. This year, under the leadership of the former High Court Judge, Unity Dow who is the Minister of MoESD, the ministry wanted to resist the negotiations and even questioned the legality of the teaching service bargaining council.

The union mounted pressure and the Ministry returned to the bargaining table and an agreement was reached.

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Khan: Boko, Masisi are fake politicians

18th January 2021
Masisi & Boko

While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.

Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.

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Ookeditse rejects lobby for BPF top post

18th January 2021

Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.

Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.

Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”

“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.

He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.

He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.

According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.

There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.

Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.

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BDP cancels MPs retreat

18th January 2021
President Masisi

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.

“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication.
The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.

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