- Says there is still room for more
The Botswana Sectors of Educators Union (BOSETU) has welcomed the government’s decision to absorb 3 509 temporary teachers as full time teachers and commended priority being extended to Batswana in hiring teachers.
This follows the Budget Speech of the Minister of Finance and Economic Development Peggy Serame in which she said some of the funds allocated to the Ministry of Basic Education (MoBE) would help to hire more teachers.
The government announced last year that a sizeable number of temporary teachers’ contracts would not be renewed. According to the president of BOSETU, Winston Radikolo, they were told in the course of engagements with the government that the decision not to renew the contracts of temporary teachers was based on a desire to employ them on a permanent basis.
“We have always used criteria which allows the government to employ teachers based on who graduated first so that we are able to track and see how many have since been employed and how many are still in the unemployment database,” said Radikolo.
He added that there are a lot of qualified teachers who have been unemployed for many years, hence the union has discouraged the government from employing newly qualified teachers. He said although they have previously advised the government to reduce the student-teacher ratio, the fact that the ratio remains high indicates existence of vacancies to be filled.
“When we cut down the number of students per class at the start of COVID-19, that on its own exposed a need for more than 3 000 teachers,” Radikolo noted. “The situation is quite depressing, to say the least. If I remember correctly, the last time the government hired teachers was when the teacher graduates of 2014 were the ones being considered.”
He pointed out that subjects like Setswana are short of teachers. Radikolo said public schools will continue to produce poor results compared to private schools if class sizes are not reduced and more teachers are not hired.
He also said even though government is failing to employ more teachers there is need to applaud them for ensuring that whenever there is a vacancy a Motswana is given first priority.
Last year, government stated that it had employed a total of 1 756 temporary teachers to ensure adherence to COVID-19 protocols.
The Permanent Secretary at MoBE, Bridget John, informed the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that the teachers were hired to cater for school expansion and split classes dictated by COVID-19 protocols. John said although they were hired after approval of the 2020/21 budget, their engagement was necessary for ensuring that COVID-19 protocols were observed.
She added the ministry was currently reconciling information from different schools to check if all regions had completed the process.
The government and unions have always been at loggerheads over classroom sizes and failure to employ more teachers.