Budget a damp squib, say teachers

Budget a damp squib, say teachers

MASERU – THE fiery spokesman for the Lesotho Association of Teacher’s (LAT) Letsatsi Ntsiolane says the budget presented in Parliament by Finance Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro on Tuesday was a damp squib.
Ntsibolane told thepost in an exclusive interview that the budget had dismally failed to address their longstanding grievances.

He said the Minister of Education had promised to ask for M60 million to settle their salary arrears but they were stunned when they the education ministry was allocated just M39 million.
The M60 million they had asked for has been allocated for the building of schools.
He said the government had misled the nation when it indicated that it had solved the teachers’ grievances including reinstating teachers who had been dismissed.

He said the reinstatement of teachers was not part of their outstanding grievances.
Ntsibolane said they were happy after the government at least promised to ensure proper use of public funds.
“We are promised that official travelling costs will be minimized but we all know that it might not happen that way,” he said.

He said they are never going to back down in their demand for better remuneration for teachers until their grievances are addressed.
He said they are going to leave classes again next week if the government fails to address their grievances.
Teachers’ associations on strike have decided to abandon classes for three weeks and teach for just a week.
Within the three weeks of abandoning the classes, teachers said they will go to district education offices for picketing.
Lesotho Teachers Trade Union (LTTU) secretary general ‘Mapitso Molai said the budget was a huge disappointment.
This was because a full salary and career structure review had not been done over the last 10 years.
“We told the subcommittee that we would believe in them if the budget comes out with the eight percent we had asked for and it is not there,” she said.

“The government has to give us what is ours. They owe us, it is not like they are doing us a favour,” Molai said.
She said they were hoping that they would be given learning and teaching materials for the sake of the new curriculum.
She said Literature and English among others requires that they select new books to help them teach the new curriculum.

But we are told to use text books and the new curriculum requires high standard materials, Molai said.
She said they had also been told to use Grade 5 books to teach Grade 8 students.
“So this means that they are doing nothing about our grievances,” Molai said.
She said teachers were silent for more than 10 years but now she said they would not stop because they need their grievances addressed.

She said last week teachers vowed to continue with their strike until the ministry bows to their demands.
“Now there is nothing tangible except being threatened with no work no pay bill,” Molai added.
She said the Bill is being pushed to trap teachers who are fighting for their rights.
Dr Majoro told Parliament that the government regrets the time wasted by the teachers’ strike.
He said many of the teachers’ grievances including payment of gratuities, outstanding arrears, and reinstatements of dismissed staff had been met.

“In addition, M35 million has been set aside in this budget for payment of teachers’ arrears and M11 million for teacher training,” Dr Majoro said.
He said his ministry also plans to spend M60 million as top-up funding for construction of classrooms and laboratories, particularly in the rural areas.
He insisted that the government is doing a lot to address teachers’ grievances.

Nkheli Liphoto


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