The Botswana National Front (BNF) joins the teaching fraternity, teacher trade unions and the nation at large in commemorating the 2018 Teachers Day under the theme: “You and I Can Deliver The Most Needed Quality Education in Botswana”. The day is an important calendar for the teaching profession to celebrate and reflect on this challenging and thankless job.
The BNF “believes that the best guarantee for basic freedoms is the education and general enlightenment of the masses. Under the BNF government, education shall therefore be given high priority”, (BNF Social Democratic Programme, para 33). The BNF policy position is that quality education with production is the solution to all social ills like poverty, unemployment, disease, juvenile delinquency, etc.
The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) led government has dismally and disappointingly failed to treat education and the teaching profession with the seriousness it deserves. Teachers have decried their deplorable and poor working and living conditions since the pre and post colonial period and throughout the successive BDP led government Presidents. The two presidential commissions of Education for Kagisano (Sir Seretse Khama - 1976) and the Kedikilwe Commission (Sir Ketumile Masire - 1993) including numerous consultancies have all proved that a change of government is the only solution to the never ending education crises. The commissions have failed to solve the worsening state of the education system since they did not adopt the best model, which the BNF, now under the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), has.
On this Teachers Day commemoration, we call upon President Mokgweetsi Masisi, a former teacher, who has executive and prerogative powers, to urgently address the following contentious perennial and cancerous education issues within his first 100 days in office:
• Reduce the student – teacher ratio to 25:1 from 60:1.
• Employ all graduate teachers who will then solve the student – teacher ratio.
• Improve Teachers’ working and living conditions- salaries, hours of work, pension, etc. Most retired teachers live a paupers’ lifestyle due to the impoverishing pension scheme.
• Ensure parliament reverses the amendments made on the Trade Disputes act that unfairly and unreasonably made teachers essential services providers. It was the BDP that pushed that teachers and other cadres be classified as such. This will also restore the good image of Botswana at the International Labour Organisation where the country has been blacklisted for violating and trampling on workers’ rights.
• Ensure the Bargaining Council is reinstated with immediate effect as teachers are represented in the council.
Besides the above comradely advice to President Masisi, the BNF and UDC have a robust and tested policy on quality Education With Production and this will in no doubt transform Botswana when UDC takes over in 2019. We therefore assure the teachers and their trade unions as per their theme that UDC “Can Deliver The Most Needed Quality Education in Botswana”.
BNF Publicity Secretary and UDC Labour Secretary