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Teachers decry cold treatment over GSS gang issues

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  • Ministry accused of playing scare tactics
  • Director and Principal mum on the matter

KAGO KOMANE and QUEEN MOSARWE

Teachers at Gaborone Senior Secondary School (GSS) say the Ministry of Education has turned a blind eye on their safety concerns and has instead taken to intimidating and blaming them for gang problems rife at the school.
As result, they have resolved to petition South East Regional Director Mabanga Gadibolae  and GSS school head Khengelane Tshebo  for their handling of the matter.  This publicantion recently revealed how teachers and students live in fear due to the tyranny of student gangs which have taken control of the school.
It also emerged from the school’s PTA meeting recently that about 33 known Form 5 students were responsible for the reign of terror currently gripping the school and were known to assault both students and teachers who they have no fear of following to the staff room and assaulting.
Instead of resolving this problem, a teacher at the school revealed that Gadibolae, the headmaster, questioned their professional integrity, effectively blaming them for the prevailing turmoil at the school. The teacher also reveals that Gadibolas dismissed the story  carried by The Botswana Gazette on the issue, and triumphantly urged the students to clap hands for themselves at a school assembly session saying “You are too beautiful to be associated with such things, clap hands for yourself.”
Another teacher revealed that Gadibolae promised that he was going to start “playing chess” with them and “benchmark at Goodhope Secondary School”, a euphemism meaning he was going to be retributively transferring teachers from the school en masse- as was the case in Goodhope last year. “He said some of us are going to laugh while some cry once he effects the changes in July 1,” the teacher said.
The teachers are said to have walked off the meeting where the headmaster made these remarks, revolted by his attitude which they say showed he did not take their safety issues seriously.
“Will the ministry only act after a teacher or student dies because of these students? They need to address this situation as a matter of urgency and stop all these game,” one infuriated teacher stated.
Reached for comment, Gadibolae declined to comment saying he does not speak to the media. In response to questions posed to Gadibolae, however, the Ministry said it was aware of   the indiscipline of a few students  at GSS and said they have been punished, while others were being counseled and some suspended.
On Gadibolae’s alleged intimidation, the ministry dismissed the allegations saying “Teachers as staff of the Ministry are routinely addressed on pertinent issues regarding their welfare and their duties…This should not be regarded as intimidation.”On the alleged threat of mass transfers, the Regional Director said transfers as a practice were “done across the country by most of the schools. It is mainly based on learning about best practices from other institutions with an intention to adapt them for continuous improvement.”
Incidents of violence are said to be still going on, with incidents of classroom interference and pepper spraying reported. According to a source, 15 students, some with respiratory problems like asthma have had to be helped during one incident which resulted in their parents being called to collect them. Other gang members are said to continue smoking dagga in the school garden store where some of them are said to have defecated on the floor, among other things.
Meanwhile, efforts to get a comment from the Gaborone Central Police Station were fruitless as he was said to be locked up in meeting.

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