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DISMISSIVE: Gotlamang Oitsile

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Teacher unions maintain ‘No vaccine No school’ stance

President of Botswana Teachers Union, Gotlamang Oitsile, has dismissed Minister of Basic Education, Fidelis Molao’s suggestion that government had reached an agreement with the union over the vaccination of teachers against Covid-19.

In a recent interview with The Voice, Molao emphasised that their differences with the teachers over the matter had been resolved. “Just note that we have held a meeting with teacher unions and we understand each other, there is no crisis,” he said.

However, Oitsile dismissed the claim, noting that there had been no progress from their meeting.

He said that they were still sticking to their stand off of ‘No Vaccine, No School,’ because government is not taking them seriously.

Oitsile said that they had hoped that by now there would be an official statement from government that the vaccines coming on Saturday will be specifically for teachers. “There is still nothing. It is clear that teachers are not a priority, but we are not looking back, we have lost too many teachers.”

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Oitsile further said that another issue that government has to consider is extending the school vacation until end of August. “I say this because even if we were to be considered for vaccination in the coming vaccine batch, it will not beat the deadline of 17th August which is scheduled for school reopening. We know vaccines go through some process once here but we will not risk the lives of our teachers hence our No vaccine No school stance.”

In their joint statement Botswana Sectors of Educaters Trade Union (BOSETU), the two teaching unions advised their members not to return to classes to teach or interact with students if they are not vaccinated before schools re-open.

“On the issue of the vaccination prioritisation plan for teachers, the trade unions proposal was that the commitments made by government, especially the President, during his address on Teachers Day and in his address to the nation on the 13th July 2021- that was further lamented by the Assistant Minister of Health and Wellness, to the effect that teachers would be prioritised in the vaccination programme, should be actualised before the educators could return to work.”

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