Rapapa wants no-work,  no-pay policy for teachers

Rapapa wants no-work, no-pay policy for teachers

MASERU – THE government is seeking to amend the law governing teachers to include the no-work-no-pay principle, thepost heard this week. The Education (Amendment) Bill 2019 was read to Parliament by Education Minister Ntoi Rapapa for the first time on Monday.
The Bill comes at a time when teachers are in the third week of a crippling strike that has thrown Lesotho’s entire education system into a tailspin.

The teachers downed tools earlier this month to demand an improvement in their salaries and conditions of service. They accuse the government of turning a blind eye on their plight.

The Bill reads: “If a teacher is absent from duty without permission, the principle of no-work-no-pay shall apply notwithstanding any disciplinary procedure provided for under this Act.”

The Bill also provides that where an inspector discovers a breach of discipline committed by a teacher, “the inspector shall instruct an immediate supervisor of the teacher to take disciplinary action against the teacher in terms of the disciplinary code”.
“The instructed supervisor shall comply with the instruction,” the Bill reads.

“If the immediate supervisor fails to comply with the provision of sub-section (1), he commits a breach of discipline and is liable to disciplinary action,” it reads.

The Bill also says the ministry may appoint a committee to inquire into the alleged breach of discipline if the immediate supervisor fails to take disciplinary action against a teacher.

“The committee shall make recommendations to the appointing authority.” In dealing with labour disputes, the government is seeking to substitute the Conciliation Board with the Conciliator who will be appointed by the minister to “conciliate disputes of interests among parties to the dispute”.

The Bill interprets “dispute of interest” as a dispute over employment matters to which a teacher or appointing authority does not have a right. The Bill also seeks to give the ministers powers to “appoint up to six persons as deputy members of” the Teaching Service Tribunal.
“The Tribunal shall have powers to deal with dismissal cases occasioned by the operation of law,” the Bill reads.

“The Minister shall take necessary measures to ensure that proper teaching and learning at a school is not compromised and where circumstances warrant, the minister may take appropriate action as may be prescribed against the relevant structures.”

Rapapa told Parliament on Monday that the primary objective of the Bill is to amend the Education Act 2010 and to improve general management of the education sector and to maintain the principles of good governance.
He said the current Education Act is fraught with shortcomings such as inconsistencies with other laws like Teachers Pension Act No 4 of 1994 and the Public Officers Defined Contribution Pension Fund Act No 4 of 2008.

The contraventions make it practically impossible to pay out the gratuities that were agreed to with the principals upon completion of 12 consecutive months of their contracts.

The Bill therefore provides for the employment of principals on permanent and pensionable terms in order to remedy the above mentioned defects, he said. The Bill further clarifies the roles and responsibilities of persons and institutions tasked with the administration of the education system in Lesotho.

These include the Ministry of Education and its structures, churches and other proprietors, the local government structure, teachers’ formations, principals and parents.

Rapapa told parliament that the Ministry of Education had embarked on major reforms adding the Education Bill was carefully crafted to avoid possible overlapping of roles.

Moreover the Bill will enable the Ministry to execute its mandate much more effectively in line with current demands on education.
The Bill will also provide guidance on redeployment of teachers, systematic appraisal of teachers and principals, including the roles of inspectors in teacher’s disciplinary processes.

It also reduces the retirement age of teachers from 65 to 60 years.
It is also aligned with the existing legal framework in Lesotho including but not limited to Labour Laws and Public Officers Defined Contribution Pension Fund Act no 4 of 2008.

This Bill also upholds the letter and spirit of the UN Convention on the Right to Children which Lesotho has ratified as well as the Education for All (EFA) Declaration.

The new Bill comes barely two months after Letsatsi Ntsibolane, the spokesman for the Lesotho Association of Teachers (LAT), was slapped with the no-work-no-pay principle.

Education inspectors went to Lithabaneng High School where Ntsibolane teaches and found that he was not in class, which led to his immediate suspension without pay.

Thooe Ramolibeli

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