BOSETU calls for policy reforms

  • - Teacher-student ratios unfavourable
  • - Union slams commercialization of education

The Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union(BOSETU) has slammed Government's refusal to deal with the issue of student-teacher ratios saying in most classes at public schools, classes are bursting at the seams with numbers of between 45-50 students.

"This is in spite of the fact that the current national education blue print, the Revised National Policy on Education(RNPE) has way back in 1994, recommended for reduction in class sizes to at least 30 students in senior schools and at least 35, in Junior Schools. This is a matter of public policy and BOSETU calls on government, led of course by the Minister of Basic Education, to show the political will and take a decisive step to pass a policy that would place the student-ratio at 1:25," revealed Tobakani Rari, Secretary General of BOSETU.

He said, "Research has indicated that the less the students are in a classroom for teaching, the more likely that the teacher could individually interact with each one of them. The teacher could pay attention and assist each one of them if they are not too many in a class and he or she could easily use learner-centred methods."

Rari maintained the current Permanent Secretary Grace Muzila in an interview on Radio Botswana conceded that the teacher-student ratio was too high and cited a situation of a class with 58 students but Government was failing to address this issue.

Another area of concern was the issue of automatic progression of students irrespective of whether they have failed their courses or not because it negatively affects the quality of education. In its desperate attempt to attain universal education for all Government was compromising quality.

"BOSETU's take is that the teaching methodologies and strategies keep on evolving with time, and any teaching and learning system that ought to take itself seriously needs to keep pace with such changes by always up-skilling, upgrading and retooling its workforce in the form of teachers. This process is fundamental in our view and in the past it has been addressed through the in-service system where serving teachers would continuously be upgraded through in-service workshop and training." said Rari.

He said, "The Government has instead of intensifying the in-service department, rather chose to intensify the inspection department which in our view is only meant for witch-hunting."

The commercialization of education was also on unions radar with growing concerns about tendency to sell system to the highest bidder with the result that private educational institutions remain largely unregulated and prices of education in such institutions are left to sky rocket.

Niggling issues centred around erratic transfer policies, promoting teachers through interviews and recommendations, filling vacancies with short term contract teachers and the need to appoint human resource managers at school level to ensure appropriate placements for administrative staff and inadequate incentives for teachers undertaking overtime engagements.

The Trade Dispute Act continues to be a serious bone of contention with it now becoming law on 1st November 2016 making teachers and many other public servants essential service workers outside the framework of the International Labour Organization(ILO).

"We expect that during this year, the Minister of Education should table before Parliament the Botswana Teaching Council Bill. The union is in support of the establishment of the self-regulatory body, the Botswana Teaching Council, however our take is that the draft as it was gave the Minister too much powers and as well seems to put too many non-teachers to regulate teachers," said Kwenasebele Modukanele, President of BOSETU.

He said, "We have made our opinion known when the re-designation of Ministries was done. We still maintain that the re-designation on its own without changes in policies and processes would not bring desired results. The re-designation process has thus far not achieved any significant results ion that such Ministries are running without a budget."



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