Teachers drag their feet in classrooms

Teachers drag their feet in classrooms

MASERU – TEACHERS are dragging their feet in schools countrywide after the Directorate of Dispute Prevention and Resolution (DDPR) postponed their case to tomorrow.
Although Letsatsi Ntsibolane, spokesman for the teachers unions, has denied that they are not teaching there are several reports that in most school teachers are spending time in staff rooms.
“I want to reassure you that the teachers are in classes. All we said to them is that they should prepare for the coming case at the DDPR and I don’t know how they interpreted that,” Ntsibolane said.

“They are teachers and it is expected that they understood that they should prepare for the case. We went back to our classes but we are also preparing for the case,” he said.
Reports from several schools in Maseru and beyond say teachers were either basking in the sun or sitting around heaters in the staff rooms.
Students from some schools also reported that teachers just organised their morning prayer, told them to keep quiet and read and from there nothing happened.
In some schools some teachers with consciences sat in the class rooms and instructed the students to read but they did not teach them anything.
“Her presence in the class was merely to keep order so that those who want to read could not be disturbed by the playful ones,” a student from one government-owned school in Maseru said, referring to her teacher.

Thousands of teachers countrywide demonstrated at education offices on Monday and Tuesday as their three main trade unions arranged the DDPR case.
Police in Maseru tried to disperse them on grounds that they were holding an unlawful procession but failed because teachers told them that they were peacefully going to their education offices as individuals.

“We are in the city, Lesotho’s capital city, and it is not surprising that we are many because people are always many in the city,” said one of the teachers to a police officer.
“I am going to the education offices for services as an individual. You cannot accuse me of walking side-by-side with another teacher when we go to the education offices for our different needs,” another one said.

The police ended up just watching, but remaining vigilant in case the teachers start toyi-toying.
The teachers’ industrial action was led by the Lesotho Association of Teachers (LAT), Lesotho Teachers Trade Union (LTTU) and the Lesotho School Principal Association (LESPA).
The teachers say they want the government to pay them arrears on their performance-based contracts dating back to 2009.
They are also demanding salaries that correspond with their academic and professional qualifications after the government encouraged them to improve their qualifications with a promise that they would be paid accordingly.

The government later reneged on its promise after hundreds of school teachers returned back from their study leaves and resumed with their duties.
The teachers also want the government to weed out ghost workers from the payroll.
They told Education Minister Professor Ntoi Rapapa to fire the Chief Executive Officer of the Teaching Service Department, ’Maselloane Sehlabi, who they accuse of maladministration and being a stumbling block to negotiations.

One of their concerns was that since 2009 the government has been saying it was negotiating and when negotiations were about to reach finality the minister is reshuffled to another ministry.
The new minister would start negotiations from the beginning and in the meantime their plight continued.
This time around they wrote Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, with an understanding that even if he reshuffles the minister there will be no starting afresh any negotiations.

Staff Reporter

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