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.
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.
A squabble has broken out between Pule Mosala Funeral Parlour and the Botswana Police Service (BPS) over the remains of a South African national who has been in the Mosala mortuary for more than nineteen months. The deceased was one of 10 suspects who were controversially shot dead during a lengthy shootout with law enforcement authorities in Gaborone’s Phase 2 early last year.
The deceased individual’s family based in Soweto, has encountered difficulties in repatriating the body which has been in the care of Mosala Mortuary Services. Following the incident, it has emerged that all 10 bodies were transported to PFG mortuary in Lobatse for a brief period while the police attempted to locate their next of kin. It is reported that the families of the deceased were eventually identified and informed to come and identify their loved ones, including other South African nationals who were part of the criminal group. These families also witnessed the autopsy procedures conducted at Princess Marina Hospital in Gaborone.
Except for the family from Soweto, nine of the bodies were claimed and taken by their separate relatives. The Soweto family claims they lack the resources to bring the body back to South Africa and has made it known that they are looking for money. To end the supposed verbal agreement over the body’s storage for repatriation, Mosala Funeral Service has filed a case against the police at the Lobatse High Court.
According to Keakantse Mmotlhana, the company’s Sales and Marketing Manager, 10 people who were killed in Phase 2 by gunfire were all temporarily transferred to one of PFG’s branches in Lobatse by the police while efforts were made to find their next of kin. She expressed outrage at the statement made by the Minister of Defense and Security, recently.
After Assistant Police Commissioner Dipheko Motube called her office to apologize for giving the Minister wrong information during a news conference, she confirmed that they had accepted the apologies. He made it clear that one of the victims was still at Pule Mortuary in Lobatse.
Bushie Mosala, the director and owner of Mosala Funeral Services, confirmed that the body of a South African national has been in his mortuary for the past nineteen months. He expressed his desire for the police to remove the corpse from the mortuary, characterising the situation as a “nightmare.” He has instructed his legal team to file a lawsuit against the police in the Lobatse High Court concerning the body.
Mosala urged the acting Police Commissioner to come forward and apologize to the nation for the situation, asserting that the public has the right to know the truth regarding the body of the South African national, w
C -002Bhich was preserved by the police as evidence.
The South African High Commission in Gaborone had not responded to queries from Weekend Post at the time going of going to press.
Botswana Sectors of Teachers Union (BOSETU) has expressed alarm over a troubling trend by the government. Tobokani Rari, Secretary General of the BOSETU, stated that it appears that these days, whenever there is a dispute between workers and the government, the administration is fast to run to the courts to attempt and muffle unions.
“This is quite disturbing development, we have seen it with the Botswana Doctors Union, there was a disagreement over the shift allowance, government rushed to court, they indeed got order that was saying the doctors should go and do the work. We have seen it with the nurses, they rushed to court they got the order, we are now seeing it with the teachers, they rushed to the court and they got what they wanted,” said Rari, who also served as the Secretary General of BOFEPUSU.
Rari raised concerns that the government’s enforcement of teacher’s work, through a court order will result in reduced classroom productivity and morale. Rari added that this situation would negatively impact labour relations and teachers emotional wellbeing due to dissatisfaction in their work places leading to persistently poor academic outcomes.
“You can get an order that forces people to work, but what happens at work, it heightens emotions, it destroys relationships and the morale goes down and productivity does. Courts and judgments don’t solve productivity issues. Productivity only comes when people are satisfied at the workplace, so if you force them to work through a court order then you may not get the maximum out of the working population,” said Rari
MESD vs BOSETU COURT CASE
“As you are aware, the Ministry of Education approached courts and they were demanding three things from the court in this case between BOSETU and the ministry. First, they were demanding that the joint letter that was written by BOSETU and Botswana Teachers Union (BTU) asking members to stop doing course work because there was no agreement be declared unlawfully and BOSETU should write to its members and withdraw that letter within 24hrs. The second thing that they were looking for, was to interdict BOSETU from further issuing any instructions to that effect going forward. Lastly was that court should hold BOSETU to pay the cost of the lawsuit on a punitive scale,” Rari said.
Rari stated that the court decided to rule in favour of the Ministry of Education on all three relieves sought, that the savingram should be declared unlawful, that BOSETU should withdraw the contents savingram within 24hrs.
Court also said BOSETU should not issue any of such instructions going forward up until the case of contempt that BOSETU has taken to court, the contempt of the 2009 judgment has been decided. Court also awarded cost to the ministry on a punitive scale.
“BOSETU is a law abiding citizen and therefore we are bound by any laws and judgments that are there in Botswana and arise on the courts of Botswana hence we have complied with the order. On the 31st after the court case, we wrote to all our members and told them that the contents of that savingram as far as coursework is concerned has been withdrawn,” said Rari.
Rari said what happened in this case is that the judge decided to listen to the urgency without the responding affidavits of the opposing party, BOSETU, and went on to rule the merit of the case, which surprised the union.
“However we have been in discussion with our lawyers because if we leave things like this, we feel like we cannot leave that unchallenged. We have taken a decision to appeal the judgment,” Rari confirmed.
2023 COURSEWORK AND INVIGILATION AGREEMENT
“We would like to make our members aware that the following day after the judgment, we were able to meet the Ministry of Education and we have arrived at a conclusion that we signed an agreement that coursework rates will be increased by 5%. If court had ruled that coursework is the duty of the teachers’ means it wouldn’t have been any agreement after the court case, it tells you that the issue is still open and it is on the table. We have arrived at an agreement that there is going to be an increment on all components of coursework and invigilation,” Rari pointed out.
Rari further explained that Article 2 says union party is to submit detailed proposals on the intensity of the coursework for further engagement. Intensity of coursework means where the coursework payment starts in terms of varying from different subjects. He said the outcome based subject that are taught Maun Senior Secondary School and Moeng college which are agriculture and hotel and tourism is that ministry have agreed and acknowledge that there are some peculiarity in their coursework and therefore should be paid in line with the peculiarities that are contained in their coursework.
Rari pointed out the resolutions taken at the conference where the issue of application of corporal punishment was addressed. “BOSETU will issue out a memo to their members to advise them that they should not apply corporal punishment, they should leave it to be applied in line with the Education Act.”
The Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) which had struck a deal with the Ministry of Education to supply some schools in the northern part of the country is counting losses as mass migration of buffalos jeopardize the Commission’s plans.
Information reaching this publication shows that the beef exporter was recently given the greenlight to supply government schools with beef. According to documents seen by this publication, as a result BMC had scheduled to buy and collect cattle in the Nata-Gweta and Boteti constituencies from 11 to 17 September.
This was after BMC and the Ministry of Education struck a deal for the former to supply government schools with beef. Letters exchanged between Ministry officials state that it has been recommended to the ministry to support BMC by allowing it to supply schools with beef products.
The Ministry indicated that it was aware that some schools have contracts that are currently running with suppliers such as local butcheries.
The Ministry revealed that at the same time BMC has 256 tins of frozen quality meat at its Maun Plant.
The Ministry requested the Director-Regional Operations to appoint an officer to manage the procurement of meat for schools that do not currently have running contracts. The Ministry further stated that Modalities of collection will be arranged between the region and the schools identified.
According to the Ministry, a list of schools including the condition of their cold rooms and their number of deliveries and kilograms per week they buy should be compiled. The Ministry also requested its officials to share the list with headquarters and the acting director-Basic Education, and engage BMC accordingly to procure.
But this plan ran into trouble after it emerged that between 300 to 500 buffalos migrated from the buffalo fence area to Nata, Dukwi and Mosetse areas.
The Department of Veterinary Services sprang into acting by revising movement protocol for cloven-hoofed animals with immediate effect following buffalo sightings in zone 3b which covers Nata/Sowa, zone 3c which is around the Dukwi areas as well as zone 6a, which covers the Mosetse area, which fall under zones, 3b, 3c, 5,6a and 8.
The Department of Veterinary Services indicated that as a result, movement of live cloven-hoofed animals and their products out of zones 3b, 3c, 5, 6a and 8 were prohibited and that movement of live cloven-hoofed animals within and into these zones is only allowed for direct slaughter at licensed slaughter facilities under veterinary movement permit issued through BAITS.
The department also indicated that the movement of fresh products derived from cloven-hoofed animals such as raw milk, skins and fresh meat into these zones is also only allowed under a similar arrangement.
Movement of live cloven-hoofed animals into these zones for rearing and other purposes will not be allowed, and farmers and the general public is requested to continue being vigilant and report any buffalo sightings to the nearest veterinary office, the police or the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, the department said.
Meanwhile the Ministry of Agriculture has stated that following the press release on prohibition of movement of live cloven-hooved animals and their products in and out of Zones 3b, 3c, 5, 6a & 8, the acting Minister of Agriculture Karabo Gare, his counterpart Acting Minister of Environment, Wildlife & Tourism Mabuse Pule, acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Mr. Joshua Moloi, Director of Veterinary Services Dr Kefentse Motshegwa and other government officials visited the areas of Sepako and Dukwi respectively on a mission to consult with communities regarding the invasion of the places by buffalos.
Minister Gare alluded that they have been sent by the President of Botswana, who is equally worried by the current situation. He noted that the affected areas have a total of around 300000 cattle and if the situation goes unchecked, there might be detrimental effects on the economy of this country.
He encouraged the communities to help government going forward by reporting any spotted buffalos in their areas, emphasizing that buffalos are dangerous and can kill people and that care should be exercised at all times.
The Director of Veterinary Services mentioned that they closed the above mentioned zones to allow for testing of buffalos & cattle for foot & mouth disease. The wildlife department’s Director Mr. Moremi Batshabang assured farmers and the community that they will eliminate small clusters of buffalos found within communities and translocate larger clusters to ensure their safety.