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“School from hell”

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Upon arrival in Molepolole, one is greeted by the fancy looking Blue Bows English Medium School. The outward façade gives the impression that this is an international school of repute, but for the employees, Blue Bows School is a walking nightmare. Undoubtedly, it is this perfect view that captures the attention of many when passing by the tarred road. The school has neatly-cut trees and well-painted tall buildings, no litter can be spotted around the school and the well-swept pavement going all the way to classrooms compliments the serene environment.

Yet teachers here are extremely unhappy and disgruntled. They cry of being exploited and abused daily by the school owners, Loveleen Nanuan and her mother Balbir, both of Indian origin.  Qualified secondary teachers say they are paid low salaries, with the highest paid employee said to be earning as little as P5 000 with no allowances or any benefits. The Midweek Sun is in possession of leaked confidential pay slips and bank statements that prove that a school headmaster can be paid below P5 000. This publication is also in possession of contracts between the employer and some of the teachers.

A holder of Bachelor of Science or Diploma in Physics or Mathematics earns below P4 000 at Blue Bows School. Some were even authorised by the government to teach. As evidence, they presented official letters signed by the late Director of Basic Education Lesego Morake. As if that is not enough, the teachers said that they are expected to teach all classes ranging from Pre-school, Primary, Junior and Secondary level. They are frustrated in that the school management has turned a blind eye to their cries and actually forces them to teach classes which they are not qualified for. They are even questioning the legal standing of the Pre-School. They allege that it is operating illegally. “At one point we were instructed to hide all Pre-School children during the Council inspection,” they revealed. The Kweneng District Council could not verify if the Pre-School is registered or not.

The Acting Council spokesperson Matlhogonolo Moremedi said they need a week or so to confirm the information by carrying out another inspection. The Midweek Sun team managed to get hold of several former Blue Bows teachers. They all described the school as a ‘living hell.’ “Anybody who did not obey instructions was scolded. Everyone who is there is expected to cover up for the school,” they claimed. “We did all the work, some of us were overqualified to be teaching certain classes but we were scared of getting on the wrong side of the school owner. They are not very friendly; some of us were sometimes instructed to sweep classrooms and clean toilets,” lamented one teacher. 

Asked why they never complained while living under such dreadful situations, they said, “We are hungry, the world is rough out there, we had to suffer hoping for a better tomorrow, we consoled ourselves that it was better than starving to death or sleeping on an empty stomach.” Further, they say they were forced to fake smiles and pretend all is well because they have families to feed. The high unemployment rate also forced them to swallow up the unpleasant working conditions and burn silently. Nanuan is said to be an abusive boss; she is said to have assaulted some of her employees at one point. A reliable insider revealed that she once slapped one teacher at the school and pushed the other off a chair. This publication spoke to the teachers who claim to have been assaulted by Nanuan in the past and they all confirmed that indeed they suffered abuse at the hands of Nanuan.

They are still waiting for action to be taken against her by the police. The case was reported at Molepolole Police Station but to this day, it is still pending. The Police could not confirm or deny if they have received such a case before going to print.   The school is also said to be operating without electricity and a solar system is used to power the computer lab. There is no water in the school and no working drainage either, despite using flushing toilets. In a recent phone conversation, Nanuan promised to give feedback on the allegations laid before her.

However, she never did only for her to rudely dismiss The Midweek Sun team during a visit to her hardware shop in Molepolole. She questioned why this publication was invading her personal space and led the team to a secluded place within the compound. She then revealed that she is not interested in commenting on the matter and will only comment after reading the published article. She said if teachers had a problem with her school, they should complain directly to her and not the media. During a visit to the school, students at the school revealed that there is always an overpowering stench coming from the toilets around lunch time. “There is no water and those toilets are not working but we just use them because we have no other option,” they said. They also lamented that they often find it hard to have their meals because they will be too disgusted to eat.

They complained of the unpalatable food being served there, “There is no balanced diet, we eat like beggars, today we were served spaghetti and soup for lunch and there is only one chef here cooking for the whole school,” they said. The newly-appointed headmaster of the school Thomas Tau feared for dear life and refused to comment on the pressing issues. Upon arrival at the school, this reporter found Nanuan in deep conversation with Tau. It soon became evident that she was briefing him about all the noise surrounding the school. She refused to give Tau room to speak, who later resorted to say, “I do not think I can speak anything about the school, I have one week here and I think she is better positioned to take your questions.” It was still at the school that this publication learnt that there might be unqualified teachers at Blue Bows.

Some teachers openly revealed that a student who finished schooling last year at Blue Bows School was this week introduced as a French teacher. The said individual is said to have failed all subjects but got an A in French. She is now a French teacher with the school and students admitted to have seen her being introduced as their teacher. She is alleged to be a teacher to all levels, from Primary to Secondary level. The school is said to have a total of about 100 children. Meanwhile, parents pour thousands of pula into the school per term. School fees range from approximately P3 000 Pre School, Primary P4 000 and P5 000 for Secondary level. One parent who had come to pick up their children at the school confirmed the school fees.

Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU) spokesperson Edwin Maitshoko said the issue of low salaries in private institutions is of great concern to them. “Normally foreigners are the ones who are highly exploited, the market is not lucrative and forces some teachers to settle for anything that can help put bread on the table,” Maitshoko said. He added that in other instances private schools hire unqualified personnel hence the low pay. He however assured that that they are working on a passing a teaching council Bill. He said they have already been in negotiations throughout the country and have also informed the employer (government).

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BMC secures beef market in Seychelles

Dikarabo Ramadubu

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Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) will soon start to sell its beef to the Island of Seychelles. Not only will they sell frozen raw meat, but will also send corned beef for trial in the Island.

All this is thanks to last week’s visit by President Mokgweetsi Masisi who included in his delegation executive management of the BMC, led by Chief Executive Officer, Dr Akolang Tombale.
The agreement signed between BMC and two leading Seychelles companies, will see BMC exporting at least 48 tonnes of raw beef to the island possibly from October. The names of the two companies that BMC signed an agreement with are Seychelles Trading Company which is a quasi-government organisation, and Rosebelle Company which is privately owned.

Although both have agreed to trade with each other, BMC cannot start immediately, as they have to wait for the green light from Seychelles companies who still have to apply for import permits in accordance with the law of their republic.

Speaking to The Midweek Sun, Tombale expressed gratitude that they managed to get good business in Seychelles through the assistance of President Masisi. “We are ready to export any time from now. As you know Seychelles is an island surrounded by mountains and cannot produce much if not anything. “They therefore depend much on imports even from as far as Brazil and Europe. Their economy is driven by tourism and they do not differ much with the European market in terms of the demand for beef as most tourists come from Europe and United States.”

Dr. Tombale said they agreed with the two companies that since “we are not sure about the logistics we will start by selling 24tonnes to each company per month, meaning we will be supplying the Island with a total of 48 tonnes per month. The idea is to start small and grow bigger as the people get used to our beef.” BMC has also negotiated to sell small stock meat to Seychelles and successfully negotiated for local chicken farmers to start selling their range chicken to Seychelles as well.

According to Tombale, he negotiated the deal after being approached by local chicken farmers amongst them Kgosi Mosadi Seboko of Balete, who requested that “we should try to find a market for chicken farmers as we go around the world searching for the beef market.” Tombale revealed that for a start both range chickens and small stock will not be supplied in tonnes or large quantities as they will be sold on a trial basis.

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G-west community reunion-walk a resounding success

Keletso Thobega

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Multitudes turned up for the Mosengwaketsi community walk and braai session this past Saturday in Gaborone West. The walk was held in the morning and was preceded by football games and a braai session that went on until late in the evening.

According to the event director Tshenolo Palai, the aim of the community day event was to revive community spirit and address crime and social ills. “The Mosengwaketsi community reunion will be held not only to create a platform to build unity but also address the social ill of passion killings,” he said.

Palai said that they had also invited health stakeholders for a wellness segment because they had realised that there are many health related conditions that affect the quality of people’s lives hence they had joined forces with religious organisations, the business community, neighbourhood outreach policing and other stakeholders in the area to encourage a culture of unity and create dialogue between all the parties.

He noted that they had wanted to create a relaxed environment conducive for different people to engage and strengthen their networks. He said they were also concerned with the high rate of crimes of passion in Botswana and also wanted to create a platform for both men and women to open up on issues that affect them because most people tend to be more relaxed in a social setting.

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