As the saying goes, when two elephants fight it’s the grass that suffers.
Put into context, as the ongoing stand off between teachers and the government continues it’s the students who suffer the most. And it is not only their examinations that have been affected but sporting activities as well.
The annual Chappies Football Festival which is meant to unearth talent in the country has been negatively affected due to the eight hour shift that teachers are now sticking to.
This has caused the Botswana Football Association to postpone the tournament to November 31. It was due to run from Wednesday till today (Friday).
BFA Technical Director Sonnyboy Sethibe said they were hopeful that the new set date will suit all concerned parties.
Teachers maintain they can’t be blamed for this unfolding scenario claiming that they still work with students on a daily basis.
Some of the teachers demand that the new changes be implemented with immediate effect while others are willing to go for a compromise.
The new changes include claiming payment for any extra work done beyond the eight hour shift which was set by the Directorate of Public Service Management. (DPSM)
For his part the National Organiser of Botswana Primary School Association BOPSA Selebatso Keabetswe revealed that their teachers from all the regions have been working with pupils preparing them for the Chappies festival which was due for Ramotswa this week.
”The teachers have passion; they have been doing this for as long as you can remember. I can tell you that teachers are equally hurt by not going to compete with talent that they have groomed. Our teachers were ready to go to Ramotswa and the authorising officers refused to let them go because they feared they might come and somersault and demand claims when they return from the trip. There was no trust hence we opted to halt the whole process,” Keabetswe told Voice Sport in an exclusive interview.
However Keabetswe refused to accept the blame for the whole fracas instead pointing a finger at the newly introduced Public Service Act.
”The act explains a teachers working day as eight hours and going for extra mural activities after these hours means teachers must be paid over time. We are however in constant consultation with government. Agreeing on the November date is also a compromise on the side of teachers,” Keabetswe said.
When asked what their compromise is he explained that they have agreed to just claim the subsistence allowance commonly known as night out allowance.
”We will still not claim the over time come November, we are doing this for the teachers who have already invested time grooming these children. So we can’t be blamed for sabotaging talent identification. We have already engaged the relevant government authorities where we agreed on this compromise, so there won’t be any difficulties. So football will continue as scheduled,” he said.
Teachers speaking on conditions of anonymity told Voice Sport that they act as guardians to students during sporting trips and sleep in uncomfortable classrooms, and for all this effort the DPSM thinks it’s not good enough.
”We are concerned about this situation yes, our members are more like security officers because they guard the children 24 hours and they get nothing from that,” fired Keabetswe.
With all these changes it means the BFA calendar according to Sethibe will be as congested as never before. It also means two programmes sponsored by Metropolitan will take place at the same time. The under -15 will be in Jwaneng in December while the COSAFA under-20 will be in Gaborone and Molepolole. There will also be the under-23 return leg to Namibia end of November and the Zone VI tournament.