Inside teachers’ settlement deal

NKOATE THAMAE

The Lesotho government and teachers’ trade unions representatives finally signed a grand deal to end the crippling teachers’ strike which had brought learning to a standstill around the country.

Lesotho teachers have been on strike since February 18 to press government to award them salary increments and improve their working conditions.

However, a tailormade solution was reached between the two parties and schools have since started running normally since Monday this week.

The signing of the agreement came when concerned parents were on the verge of organising a huge demonstration to petition government to stop “delaying tactics” in solving teachers’ grievances.

Delivering his speech on that occasion, Minister of Communication Chief Thesele ’Maseribane indicated that he was happy to finally sign an agreement with teachers’ trade union representatives after lengthy negotiations on behalf of quality education for Basotho.

’Maseribane further urged both the government’s task team and teachers’ trade unions to endeavour to work harmoniously and come up with a grand solution to end teachers’ strike. “It was through prayer, tolerance, compromise and hard work that we reached a solution to re-open school,” ’Maseribane said.

He was quick to remind both scholars and teachers to work very hard in order to cover lost time on their syllabi tight schedule and appealed to parents to support their children’s education and ensure that they work hard on their studies.

’Maseribane promised that the government of Lesotho was going to work very hard to ensure that the crisis in the education sector becomes history.

He praised journalists for playing a significant role in keeping Basotho informed about education matters.

On the other hand, Letsatsi Ntsibolane, Chairman of Lesotho Association of teachers (LAT), addressed the issue of concerned parents who have paid schools fees yet their children were forced to stay at home due to teachers’ strike.

Ntsibolane explained that schools would ensure the lost learning time was recovered.

“The important point on this issue is simply to cover the syllabus and each school would have to find possible means and strategies to solve that problem,” Ntsibolane explained.

The parties agreed on several terms and conditions that will be implemented within stipulated time frames on their agreement.

For example, both parties agreed that training for grade 8 teachers shall commence during the week beginning March 25, 2019 in Maseru. The parties also agreed to enact the Teaching Service Regulations that are commensurate with the principal law (Education Act no 3 of 2010 as amended) on appointment of teachers before May 31, 2019.

On the 8% increment of the delayed salary structure, while the government could not offer the 8% in the FY2019/2020, both parties agreed to negotiate the 8% salary increase in the 2020/2021 career and salary structure.

On the text books for grade 8 it was agreed that the ministry should continue distributing the books to all secondary schools in addition to 289 schools where deliveries have already been made.

It was also agreed that by April 1 (Monday this week) the ministry should begin re-distribution of textbooks for top-ups where there are shortages for grade 8.

Top-ups for other grades should also be delivered in this period.

The task team that signed the grand deal to end teacher’s strike comprised; Dr Thabiso Lesebe, principal Secretary of Ministry of Education and Training, Dr Lineo Liphoto, Advocate Ishmael Sefeane, Advocate Nthabiseng Seokotoana, Advocate Santi Mofoka, Matete Seiso, Mamolikuoa ‘Mota, ‘Mapitso Molai, ‘Mats’oanelo Lichaba, ‘Majoalane Mathebeng and Letsatsi Ntsibolane.

Chief Thesele ‘Maseribane signed on behalf of the government, while Mr Sofonea Shale of Development for Peace Education (DPE) signed as a witness. Teachers’ representatives who included Majoalane Mathebeng, St. Stephens High School Principal, also signed on behalf of the teachers.
The parties also settled for M195.00 tax credit increase which will apply to all taxpayers and a gazette would be issued on April 1, 2019.
In another issue, the agreement stipulates that the government has agreed to promote a total of 440 teachers on qualifications already at school in 2016 upon amendment of the Teaching Service Regulations 2002.

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