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Rapapa tables education bill in parliament

Ntsebeng Motsoeli

THE Minister of Education, Ntoi Rapapa this week tabled the Education (Amendment) Bill 2019 in parliament which seeks to make adjustments to the Education Act of 2010.

The long-awaited bill, whose crafting started as far back as 2013, has proposed to improve the general management of the education sector “and maintain the principles of governance”.

The bill also seeks to enforce the “no work, no pay” policy on teachers who abscond work without permission.

“If a teacher is absent from duty without permission, the principle of no work no pay shall apply notwithstanding any disciplinary procedure provided for under this act,” part of the bill reads.

The bill has also proposed to change the retirement age of teachers from a compulsory 65 years to an optional 50 to 65 years.

“A teacher who, is entitled to retire at the age of 65 shall, upon coming into effect of this Act, have an option to retire at any age from 50 to 65 years.”

According to the bill, public schools’ principals who were engaged under the performance contract regime, will upon expiration of their engagement, have an option to re-apply.

The ministry’s principal secretary, Thabiso Lebese last week said that the bill also propose to hire principals under permanent and pensionable terms.

“This is one amendment that has been outstanding. We listened to the teachers and we sat down and crafted the bill. This will enable all teachers, especially the principals in all the 1800 schools across the country to be hired on permanent and pensionable terms,” Dr Lebese said.

According to the statement of objects and reasons presented to parliament by the ministry, the primary objective of the bill is to amend the Education Act of 2010 and improve the general management of the education sector and maintain the principles of good governance.

“The act (Education Act of 2010) is fraught with shortcomings such as inconsistencies with other laws like the Teachers’ Pension Act No 4 of 1994 and Public Officers Defined Contribution Pension Fund Act No 4 of 2008. The said contraventions make it practically impossible to pay out the gratuities that were agreed to with the principals upon completion of at least 12 consecutive months of their contracts.

“The bill therefore provides for employment of principals on permanent and pensionable terms in order to remedy the above-mentioned defects,” the document reads.

The bill, the ministry said, clarifies the roles and responsibilities of persons and institutions tasked with the administration of education. These include: the Ministry of Education and its structures, churches and other proprietors, the local government structure, teacher formations, principals and parents.

“The parliament is invited to note that the Ministry of Education and Training has embarked on major reforms and so the Education Bill was carefully crafted to avoid possible overlapping of roles. In addition, the bill will enable the ministry to execute its mandate much more effectively and efficiently in line with current demands on education.

“The bill will provide guidance on redeployment of teachers, systematic appraisal of teachers and principals, including the role of inspectors in teachers’ disciplinary processes. The bill further provides the reduction of retirement age of teachers from 65 years to 60 years.

“The bill is aligned with the existing legal framework in Lesotho including but not limited to Labour Laws and Public Officers Defined Contribution Pension Fund Act No 4 of 2008,” the ministry said.

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