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MoESD-Unions standoff threatens to disrupt 2015 exams

The public service teachers unions, Botswana Sector of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU) and the Botswana Teachers Union (BTU) have called on teachers to boycott the 2015 school examinations and cease assisting students with course work until the Unions and the employer reaches an agreement on the compensation rate.

The call was made this week as the standoff between teachers and the Ministry of Educations and Skills Development (MoESD) over the compensation negotiation dragged on to the third week.

“Teachers are currently not bound by any existing agreement in this regard and as such they should with immediate effect cease to assist students in course work activities and submit marks for coursework if already done, and invigilate. This condition should remain in existence until this matter of engagement with the Ministry on the 2015 rates is finalised,” the union Secretary Generals, Tobokani Rari and Ibo Kenosi said in a letter they wrote to the teachers.

The letter which was penned this week further invited the teachers to a consultative meeting on this issue which is to be held on Tuesday next week.

“We have since the beginning of this week been inundated with enquiries by the general membership about the 2015 agreement between the Ministry of Education and teachers unions on course work and invigilation rates. The inquiries are geared towards whether teachers should proceed with assisting students with course work and submit marks of the same in the case where the work has already been done and consequently invigilate,” the letter further reads before adding that, “we would like to put it on record for all to note that currently there is no agreement between the teachers  unions and the Ministry of Education on 2015 course work and invigilation rates as the 2014 agreement lapsed at the end of the same year.

This, according to the unions owes to the fact that at a meeting where the 2015 rates were to be discussed the Ministry, especially the current Minister, Unity Dow questioned the legality of the sectoral bargaining structure and made it “abundantly clear,” that they would not proceed with the meeting pending their consultation with the Directorate of Public Service management (DPSM) on the same subject matter.

“It is evident from the conduct of the Ministry that they do not intend to negotiate with unions any more on this matter and by extension would want to renege on the negotiation arrangement that has existed for five years since Phumaphi’s judgment,” the unions expressed their views further.

The 2009 Phumaphi judgment stated that the responsibility of running final examinations in schools belonged to the Botswana Examinations Council (BEC) unless the employer strikes an agreement with teachers, hence the unions were advising teachers that, “’any work done for purpose of soliciting marks for the final examinations is the responsibility of the BEC and is outside the purview of the teacher’s duty unless if there is an existing collective agreement between the unions and the Ministry of Education and the BEC.”

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People with Disabilities Face Barriers to Political Participation in Botswana

23rd February 2024

Individuals challenged by disabilities encounter formidable obstacles when endeavoring to partake in political processes within the context of Botswana. Political involvement, a cornerstone of democratic governance, empowers citizens to shape the legislative landscape that impacts their daily existence. Despite Botswana’s reputation for upholding democratic ideals, recent insights unveil a troubling reality – those with disabilities find themselves marginalized in the realm of politics, contending with substantial barriers obstructing the exercise of their democratic liberties.

A recent inquiry in Botswana unveiled a panorama where individuals with disabilities confront hurdles in navigating the political arena, their involvement often restricted to the basic act of voting. Voices emerged from the study, underscoring the critical necessity of fostering environments that are accessible and welcoming, affording individuals with disabilities the active engagement they rightfully deserve in political processes. Noteworthy was the account of a participant grappling with physical impairments, shedding light on the glaring absence of ramps at polling stations and the urgent call for enhanced support mechanisms to ensure an equitable electoral participation.

The echoes reverberating from these narratives serve as poignant reminders of the entrenched obstacles impeding the full integration of individuals with disabilities into the democratic tapestry. The inaccessibility of polling stations and the glaring absence of provisions tailored to the needs of persons with disabilities loom large as formidable barricades to their political engagement. Particularly pronounced is the plight of those grappling with severe impairments and intellectual challenges, who face even steeper hurdles in seizing political participation opportunities, often grappling with feelings of isolation and exclusion from the political discourse.

Calls for decisive action cascade forth, urging the establishment of more inclusive and accessible political ecosystems that embrace individuals with disabilities in Botswana. Government bodies and concerned stakeholders are urged to prioritize the enactment of laws and policies designed to safeguard the political rights of individuals with disabilities. Furthermore, initiatives geared towards enhancing awareness and education on political processes and rights for this segment of society must be spearheaded, alongside the adoption of inclusive measures within political institutions and party structures.

By dismantling these barriers and nurturing a political landscape that is truly inclusive, Botswana can earnestly uphold its democratic ethos and afford every citizen, including those with disabilities, a substantive opportunity to partake in the political fabric of the nation.



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Neo Kirchway- Defying the odds

23rd February 2024

In the heartwarming tale of Neo Kirchway, a beacon of inspiration emerges, shining brightly amid life’s adversities.

Defying the constraints of destiny, Neo Kirchway, a resilient Motswana soul now thriving in the United States, stands tall despite the absence of her lower limbs. With unwavering determination, she tends to her cherished family – a loving husband and four children – engaging in the daily symphony of household tasks with remarkable grace.

Neo’s indomitable spirit traces back to the fateful year of 1994, a time when medical intervention called for the amputation of her curled legs. Embracing this pivotal juncture with unwavering courage and the blessing of her mother, she ventured forth into a world adorned with prosthetic legs, eager to script a tale of triumph.

Venturing beyond borders, Neo’s journey led her to the embrace of the United States, where serendipity intertwined her fate with that of her soulmate, Garrett Kirchway. Together, this harmonious duo navigates the ebbs and flows of life, their bond fortified by unwavering love and unyielding support.

In a bid to illuminate paths and embolden hearts, Neo leverages the digital realm, crafting a sanctuary of empowerment on her YouTube channel. Brimming with authenticity and raw emotion, her videos chronicle the tapestry of her daily life, serving as a testament to resilience and the unwavering human spirit.

Amidst the digital cosmos, Neo, affectionately known as “KirchBaby,” reigns supreme, a luminary in the hearts of 658,000 enraptured subscribers. Through her captivating content, she not only navigates the mundane tasks of cooking, cleaning, and childcare but also dances with celestial grace, a testament to her boundless spirit and unyielding zest for life.

In the cathedral of Neo Kirchway’s narrative, resilience reigns supreme, echoing a universal truth – that amidst life’s gales, the human spirit, when kindled by hope and fortitude, emerges as a beacon of light, illuminating even the darkest of paths.


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Inequalities Faced by Individuals with Disabilities

22nd February 2024

The government’s efforts to integrate individuals with disabilities in Botswana society are being hampered by budgetary constraints. Those with disabilities face inequalities in budgetary allocations in the health and education sectors. For instance, it is reported that the government allocates higher budgetary funds to the general health sector, while marginal allocations are proposed for the development and implementation of the National Primary Health Care guidelines and Standards for those with Disabilities. This shows that in terms of budgetary solutions, the government’s proposed initiatives in improving the health and well-being of those with disabilities remain futile as there is not enough money going towards disability-specific health programs. On the other hand, limited budgetary allocations to the Special Education Unit also are a primary contributor to the inequalities faced by children with disabilities. The government only provides for the employment of 15 teachers with qualifications in special education despite the large numbers of children with intellectual disabilities that are in need of special education throughout Botswana. Such disproportional allocation of resources inhibits the capacity to provide affordable and accessible assisted technology and residential support services for those with disabilities. Given the fact that a different amount of resources have been availed to the education and health sectors, the general understanding is that the government is not doing enough to ensure that adequate resources are distributed to disability-specific programs and facilities such as barrier-free environments, residential homes, and special education schools for children with disabilities.


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