Teachers headed for good times

15th May 2018
THE BEGINNING OF GREAT THINGS: Minister Bagalatia Arone and Chinese Ambassador Takeda at the ground breaking ceremony of the classroom blocks Source:The Midweek Sun/ Pako Lesejane


By Sun Reporter - Reporter

They say new brooms sweep clean. And hopefully, the new minister at Basic Education Bagalatia Arone may be destined to change the fortunes of thousands of the country’s teaching cadres. That is if words were deeds! Arone, a trained teacher by profession who says like Botswana’s second president, the late Sir Ketumile Masire, he is “seconded to politics,” and will go back to teaching, made a bold statement last week at Kgale Hill Junior Secondary in Gaborone that had teachers cheering and whistling in apparent joy. The occasion was the ground breaking ceremony to mark the construction of a special education unit at the school, courtesy of a US$ 77, 488 (P849, 187) grant contract under Japan’s grant scheme - Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects. Speaking at the auspicious occasion graced by Japan’s Ambassador to Botswana Kozo Takeda and deputy permanent secretary at Basic Education including the school’s headmaster Solomon Setswe and PTA chairman Maramba, minister Arone promised teachers that he was working tirelessly to ensure that they get time to rest when schools close. He said he could never understand why teachers don’t go for holidays but are kept in schools when they should be resting and meeting their parents. Under the current dispensation in which teachers are bundled with all other civil servants under the Public Service Act, teachers are required to fill leave days when schools close.

When they were regulated by the Teaching Service Management Act, which has since been tossed into the dustbin, teachers had rest days when schools closed. But ever since the advent of the Public Service Act, teachers have suffered under a heavy yoke. The met result of these working conditions in which teachers are required to supervise students’ extracurricular activities including travelling with them for sports activities, has been poor and dismal academic results every year. Minister Arone said he is going to present his proposals for teachers’ holidays to Cabinet for discussion and possible approval and pleaded with teachers to do “what is within your right” as he assured them of “all support you need” to make the education system a success. Arone said he had already spoken to teachers’ unions about this issue. He also made a revelation that he was President of the Student Representative Council (SRC) at College from the first year until he finished. He said he was thrust into politics by his colleagues that he trained with at College, one of whom is a teacher at Kgale Hill JSS. Arone said he is ready to change teachers’ work conditions provided they do their bit.

“This is the only country that we have, it’s a gift from God and our parents, we must commit to serving our country,” he said. He said the country’s president – Mokgweetsi Masisi - is a teacher as well as the vice president, Slumber Tsogwane and that he too is a teacher responsible for teachers’ welfare, hence there is hope they can set this country on the right path. Speaking at the same occasion, His Excellency Ambassador Takeda said the special education unit being built by local contractor, Singa Joiners and Shop Fitters, is the 51st project among a total of 52 projects that the embassy has assisted under the grant scheme in Botswana since 1997. For his part school headmaster, Setswe promised that school management would adhere to the terms and conditions set under the grant contract as well as committed to finish the construction of the classroom block on September 10, 2018 and within budget. The special education unit will house some 68 special needs students.

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