- Say it is unfair for them to perform COVID-19 health duties
- Unions aware of burdensome supplementary workload
The teaching profession is headed for a collision course with government over long working hours and a work overload that is made worse by COVID-19 health protocols, The Botswana Gazette has established.
At the centre of their concern is that the government rushed to open schools before ensuring readiness. A Nyangabgwe Primary School teacher who prefers to remain anonymous says the lack of readiness has dragged them into the unknown territory of doubling as Safety and Health (SHE) Officers to ensure that COVID-19 mandatory protocols are adhered to by pupils.
According to the teacher, this has increased their workload and is forcing them to go beyond their normal working hours.
This is resulting in some teachers dumping pupils. “What should be noted is that the work load starts in the morning with the screening process and sanitising of hands. All this needs our supervision because of lack of the human resource for the work,” says the teacher.
The same complaints were raised by teachers at Mater Spei College who further raised a concern over the mandatory registration exercise, saying it is time-consuming and affects the learning period. “Screening for temperature is time-consuming, especially when students should be going for lessons. So there is a serious need to resource the schools for adhering to the health protocols in order to avoid putting students lives at risk,” one of the teachers said.
The Vice President of Botswana Sectors of Educators Union (BOSETU), Mogomotsi Motshegwa, has confirmed that teachers are already feeling the pinch of the workload due to the health protocols. Motshegwa says they foresee a worsening of the situation going forward. “The government must take this issue of working hours seriously and address it,” Motshegwa stated in an interview with The Botswana Gazette.
His views were echoed by the Secretary General of Botswana Teachers Union (BTU), Agang Gabana, who said they received many complaints on the first day of re-opening of schools. “In the agreement we signed with the government, it clearly states that supplementary responsibilities should not be given to our members as they are already overwhelmed,” Gabana said.
“Teachers who took the responsibilities of SHE officers were scared by what the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Basic Education, Bridget John, said recently. The PS went on television to say head teachers should perform some roles if the need arises.”
Efforts to talk to the Minister of Basic Education, Fidelis Molao, proved futile as his phone went unanswered.