Botswana Federation of Public Private & Parastatal Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) Secretary General, Tobokani Rari, says the local education sector environments remain volatile when it comes to issues of Safety Health & Environment.
According to Rari, schools remain the only industries that hold thousands of people at a go.
Speaking at the recent S.H.EMASTERS Schools Safety Summit Botswana, which was held under the theme, UNMUTE SCHOOL SAFETY; A SYSTEMATIC RISK APPROACH TOWARDS BUILDING A RESILIENT SAFETY CULTURE FOR ALL, Rari said the view of BOFEPUSU is that issues of Safety, Health and Environment have been greatly neglected in Schools in the country.
“It is only in the advent of Covid that the school health policies started to be developed. SHE officers got hired and deployed to schools albeit on temporary basis, COVID – 19 specific inspections got carried out.
This pandemic caught Botswana off guard with respect to safety in schools and came up as a wake up call. However, teachers still use chalk and duster, which is deemed hazardous and do not have working spaces, with continuous standing and extremely uncomfortable chairs and desks,” he said.
Rari further highlighted that the International Labour Organization (ILO) Constitution sets forth the principle that workers must be protected from sickness, disease and injury arising from their employment.
“ILO standards on occupational safety and health provide essential tools for governments, employers and workers to establish such practices and provide for maximum safety at work. According to the most recent ILO global estimates, 2.78 million work-related deaths are recorded every year, of which 2.4 million are related to occupational diseases,” said Rari.
President of the European Network Education and Training in Occupational Safety and Health (ENETOSH), Dr Ulrike Bollmann who participated virtually in the summit, said mainstreaming or integrating Occupational Health and Safety (OSH) in education was a means to make safety and health an integral part of people thinking, feeling and acting.
“If you succeed in doing this you improve the culture of prevention, here; in the schools context. There are five success factors for a good healthy school which are; speak the school’s language, set smart goals, cooperate- at national, regional, local and school level, let all relevant stakeholders of the school participate from the beginning and sufficient and appropriate resources,” she said.