COVID-19 kill 24 teachers; Government refuses to temporarily close schools

What would it take for the government to realize that the lifes of the Educators are in real danger and take robust measures to preserve their lives?

A teacher is a pillar of the nation, and when a pillar is weakened, the whole structure falls miserably! Will our structure fall as we see the teachers being infected by and dying from the Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19)?

For the past couple of months, the Educators Trade Unions-Botswana Teachers Union (BTU) and Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU) have been calling for the Ministry of Basic Education to close the schools for at least fourteen (14) days or two (2) weeks to cater for fumigation of schools and arrest the fast spread of the virus. The proposition was rejected by the government in the last meeting with the Educators Unions, and was further rejected yesterday in a similar meeting.

In rejecting the suggestion by Educators Trade Unions,the government in a meeting held last month on the sixteenth, mentioned that they will provide Personal Protective Equipment to the teachers and regard them as frontline workers.

However, ever since the last meeting with the Ministry of Basic Education and the Presidential COVID-19 Task Team which supposedly had resolutions to protect teachers, it doesn’t look as if those resolutions are actually working. The Educators Trade Unions has brought to light that not only are teachers getting infected as was the case in the last instance, they are now dying due to the virus.

“Unions revealed to the gathering information on COVID – 19 related deaths over the past two (2) weeks within the teaching sector as having totaled twenty – four (24). This number was further corroborated by Ministry of Basic Education officials.” Educators Trade Unions wrote.

Even though the government agreed to regard educators as frontline workers, it is disappointing to mention that they have been put nineth in the order of getting COVID-19 vaccine. They come after the Health workers, the forces; Botswana Defence Force, Directorate of Intelligence and Security, Botswana Police Service, Botswana Prisons Services, Ports of entry staff, truck drivers, and social workers.

Though the Ministry and the Presidential COVID-19 Task Team agree that teachers are in real danger, evidenced by the fact that no other sector has more COVID-19 deaths than teachers, the government is still reluctant to place teachers higher in the order of receiving the vaccine.

“On the issue of prioritizing teachers in the roll out plan of the COVID – 19 vaccine, the National COVID – 19 task team could not commit itself, indicating that the prioritization would be done taking into consideration some various factors” the Educators Trade Unions revealed.

However, the Ministry of Basic Education is considering testing the Form 4 students before being allowed into senior schools. Convincing as it may sound, it does not really solve anything as overcrowding is eminent and form 4s might still get infected by the form 5 students and go on to infect other family members back home.

Back to the issue of a teacher the pillar of the nation, the Minister of Basic Education recently announced that schooling should go on though there are risks as children have the right to education. What is puzzling now is, between learners’ right to education and educators’ right to health and life, which is the priority?

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