School time is play time

Following a decision by teachers to boycott working overtime due to the fact that the Ministry of Education and Skills Development (MoESD) is failing to efficiently pay overtime allowance, some schools have decided to cut on learning time and administer sporting activities within their prescribed eight hours of work on Thursdays and Fridays.

The Botswana Gazette has learnt that some schools around the country have students conducting their sporting activities under the scotching heat, something the Botswana Sector of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU) spokesperson Solomon Batsietswe has confirmed. “It is true, we can confirm that indeed some secondary schools in Maun and other areas and also a primary school in Molepolole have decided to cut on learning time to cater for sporting activities,” he said.  Although Batsietswe said they are yet to contact the Ministry on the issue, he said it looks like it is individual schools’ decisions which he said could eventually be done everywhere as the schools are bound to compete with each other.

Batsietswe said the trend is unacceptable especially  since examinations results across board have been declining. “If this trend continues it is certain that the results will continue being bad, and in that case teachers should not be persecuted for the poor results. Batsietswe said it was worrisome that the term is short and doing sporting activities during class time will not help the situation.
The unionists said following their consultations with teachers across the country, the teachers have decided that they will just work for eight hours meaning that there will  be no teachers administering sporting activities. The Saturday study session which exists in some schools is also a thing of the past.

Meanwhile the ministry has advertised part time vacancies for teachers in Secondary and Primary Schools, Boarding Assistants, coaches for different sporting codes amongst other posts. Batsietswe said it was unclear as to what could be the reason for the vacancies. “We will enquire with the ministry when we meet them on Tuesday. We need to establish if it is intended to counter on the overtime boycotting and what it will cost and determine whether it’s worth it,” he said. Batsietswe said it was not a good idea to take someone from outside to do part time work as it might confuse students who are already used to working with their full time teachers.

Ruth Maphorisa, the DPSM director, was quoted in the media stating that the decision to engage part time employees was made to save costs associated with full time employment. “We have been spending too much on payment of overtime allowances to full time employees. We could easily reduce costs associated with full time employees by engaging those who are unemployed on part time basis”, Maphorisa said.