The Coming covid-19 Education Disaster

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  • MoBE cannot aff ord to hire new teachers

LETLHOGILE MPUANG

Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU) says the country’s education system is headed for a serious disaster should the Ministry of Basic Education (MoBE) fail to devise a clear and viable strategy post the effects of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

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Although BOSETU, through their Secretary General Tobakani Rari, believe that all is not lost for the students, as they have not really missed out on a chunk of their school calendar, he holds that it is now up to MoBE to save the country’s education.

“We have advised the Ministry on these issues, mainly because we care about the integrity of the profession. We have even advised in the presence of the Minister and his Permanent Secretary,” says Rari.

The BOSETU SG even revealed that their most recent engagement with MoBE was on 11th May 2020. “They took some of our advice but also rejected some. We are the ones who actually came up with the proposal that completing classes should be the first to return to school.”

“However, the Ministry has taken a decision that in order to achieve social distancing, classes should be split into two. The other class comes in the morning while the other comes in the afternoon. This automatically means that a teacher will have two classes, and that could come with serious disadvantages. It now means that teachers will not have time for afternoon coursework activities, remedial lessons. It has been proven that our children in government schools need these lessons.”

He further submits that they presented a proposal to MoBE to hire trained but unemployed teachers. “We advised that the Ministry should acquire porta cabins and turn them into classrooms and have these new teachers given some of these classes, but unfortunately, they rejected it. If we continue like this, our education is headed for serious disaster this year,” concluded the BOSETU SG.

Minister of Basic Education Fidelis Molao said he could engage with this publication on issues between the Ministry and Unions, which are of public interest. However, The Botswana Gazette has been informed by sources at MoBE that the Ministry is decrying lack of funds. It is said that the situation has been even worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

At a recent press conference MoBE PS Bridget John revealed that primary and secondary schools will remain closed. She however pointed out that completing classes will be the first to return to school during this period of State of Public Emergency.