BOCODOL fails to pay tutors

SHARE   |   Monday, 10 April 2017   |   By Staff Writer
Dr Tau, BOCODOL Executive Director Dr Tau, BOCODOL Executive Director

Tutors at Botswana College of Distance and Open Learning (BOCODOL) are headed for a showdown with management over unpaid salaries, which could delay the completion of the first semester ending in April. Already there is uncertainty over the next tutorial for revision scheduled for April 22 and examinations to be taken in the same month. Since the beginning of the semester in February the majority of tutors at the school, who are part–time employees, have never received their dues despite that they have taught and marked students’ assignments. The part–time tutors have already taught around four lessons each since beginning of February. All the time they were performing their duties BOCODOL management remained silent on the issue of salaries and waited for the tutors to complete their work before making an announcement about non-payment. The text message circulated to aggrieved tutors through cellphones around mid-March read: "Your allowance will not be paid due to the college’s financial constraints. Still awaiting funding from the Government. We regrettably apologise for any inconveniences". Ironically, the financial constraints at BOCODOL only affected the tutors because full time employees, who are a support staff, have all been paid their salaries. According to the tutors, BOCODOL has contravened the contractual obligation of being paid for every lesson conducted. "Two full months have passed. BOCODOL management does not care about this as they have paid themselves," the tutors wrote in a letter of complaints. The tutors accuse BOCODOL management of plunging the institution into a crisis with students likely to revolt if the next lessons are cancelled because tutors have resolved not to teach and mark anymore. They said all distance learners have fully paid their tuition fees and are expected to be paid from the learners’ tuition to keep the school running, especially because BOCODOL's core business is teaching by distance and open learning and the core employees there are tutors who are neglected. "Students should not expect any tutors in their last semester lessons for revision and winding up purposes," the tutors threaten in the letter. Communications Manager at BOCODOL, Bonnie Bashe, said although they experienced some financial challenges in the past it affected operations only but not allowances for tutors. 

Low wages
Tutors are also aggrieved over low wages offered by BOCODOL, which have never been reviewed for many years while management and support staff employees, without teaching responsibilities have increased their salaries and allowances almost every year. The tutors call on BOCODOL management to save the institution from total collapse due to poor management, lack of vision and priorities. They complain that the worst part is that last year BOCODOL reduced the rates for marking assignments and now refuses to pay for work done. "Most of the tutors come from African countries which although poor, respect employees’ rights, especially contractual obligations of paying for work done. We call upon BOCODOL to pay us immediately and stop their Finance Managers from lying to us and being so arrogant when we demand our payments. Some of these managers have in fact overstayed and need to be removed as BOCODOL is not growing at all or improving its services. With the current management, who are not creative and does not care about the welfare of its core workers, the tutors, BOCODOL will collapse in few years to come," wrote a group of concerned tutors.