Govt proposals worry principals

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Limpho Sello

SCHOOL principals from different parts of the country have expressed concern over a raft of proposals by the Minister of Education and Training which will deny them first preference in the renewal of employment contracts and make them liable for damage to property among other things.

Last Thursday, the principals were supposed to meet the Minister Mr Motlalentoa Letsosa in Maseru to discuss a new contract document among other issues but the meeting was postponed indefinitely.

The principals who had already gathered at the Examination Council of Lesotho Hall in Khubetsoana then held their own meeting to discuss their grievances.

This was after they had seen leaked copies of what was said to be the new draft contract which appeared to show that they would not be given first preference to retain their positions which would be advertised six months before the expiry of their contracts.

The meeting was coordinated by the Lesotho Schools Principals Association (LESPA).

LESPA Public Relations Officer, Teboho Mokhomo recently told the Lesotho Times that their fears were stalked by the fact that the proposed contract had already gone viral on social media before it was tabled before them.

Mr Mokhomo said there were also genuine concerns especially in light of challenges that were experienced by some teachers last year after they were made to sign contracts only to be told they would not receive their gratuities because government had make the mistake of failing to save for them in the public fund.

He said they were also worried about the clauses in the leaked ‘draft’ which purported that the principals would be personally liable for damages to school property and deductions would be made from their salaries.

One of the clauses titled Future Employment states that “six months prior to the expiry of the contract, the position will be advertised and be open to fair competition. Nothing shall be constructed as to entitle the employee preference or expectation of renewal”.

Another clause states that “in the event the employee negligently or willfully misuses or fails to remit to government, the government levy, book fee, examination fee or any money due to the government, he or she shall be liable to a reasonable deduction from his or her monthly to pay in full the amount not remitted, and such monthly deduction shall not exceed one third of the employee’s salary”.

Mr Mokhomo such clauses did not provide guarantees for their future especially as they were often asked to resign before getting the new contracts.

“Principals need to enter into that new contract knowing very clearly that they fully agree with the terms and conditions of the contracts to avoid havoc given the previous bitter experiences,” Mr Mokhomo said.

“The contents of the draft we saw are very disturbing and we do not agree with some clauses. Although an official from the ministry told us that that was not the real draft we want to see the real one before being given the final contract to sign.

“We want to look at the clauses beforehand that are not favourable to us so that we can ask the ministry to revise them failing which we will seek legal advice,” Mr Mokhomo said.

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