Government’s failure to implement the recommendations of the Revised National Policy on Education (RNPE) of 1994 in which a task force led by ex-Vice President Ponatshego Kedikilwe which came up with progressive reforms on Education sector continues to haunt the country.
The proposed reforms saw a rare consensus among political parties, with experts alike considering the recommendations a blue print for Botswana’s education sector transformation. Although government gave thumb-up to the recommendations of the commission, Ministry of Education is struggling to implement majority of key proposed reforms. A Statistics Botswana report released this week gives highlights on education and training in Botswana for the year 2015 vindicates the necessity of implementing the RNPE of 1994 reforms.
The statistics in the new report is of good quality, policy-relevant, and reliable to serve the purpose of monitoring the existing education policies including and/or particularly the 1994 Revised National Policy on Education (RNPE). The new Statistics report points out that in terms of the Special Education Needs and Disability in Primary Schools, among others as per Kedikilwe Commission, the country is still lagging behind in many respects. “The enrolment of children in Special Education Units constituted a minimal percentage since 2011; that is less than 1.0 percent of total enrolment,” the Statistic Botswana report point out.
It further says that the percentage of enrolment in Special Education unit has been decreasing since 2012; from 0.45 percent to 0.38 percent in 2015. It asserts: “the lower percentage of children in Special Education unit could be viewed as an indication that there is still a lot that has to be done regarding provision of education to children with special education needs.”
To implement RNPE (1994) recommendations on special education, reports states that the Government continues to build special education units in existing schools, integrate and mainstream children with special education needs and disability in to the mainstream school system. According to Statistics Botswana, there were 5,097 children with special education needs in primary schools in 2015. Most of the Special Education Needs children, it posits, were those with visual impairement with 1,376 pupils followed by 1,261 of those with other Health related disability.
Moreover, it indicates higher percentage of primary school students with special education needs in 2015 being those with visual disability; constituting 27.0 percent, followed by those who have Other Health related impairement with 24.7 percent. Students with speech and hearing impairments constitute a small percentage; 6.8 and 6.5 percent respectively. Furthermore, the Government through grants supports the NGOs which provides special education.
The publication provides statistics users with comprehensive education statistics and information on the number of education institutions, enrolments, performance, teachers and facilities at primary education level. This report also provides statistics for evidence on the country’s progress towards meeting national and international obligations. Government improves on pupil teacher ratio at Primary level
The RNPE also touched on Student-teacher ratio which have been also been a headache for the government for years. On average, the report states that Botswana has experienced notable improvements in reducing average class size and pupil/teacher ratio. “The pupil teacher ratio for the trained teachers decreased from 28 pupils per trained teacher in 2006 to around 24 pupils per trained teacher in 2015,” the official Statistics report points out. It is believed that a low number of pupils per teacher translates into pupils having a better chance of contact with the teachers and hence a better teaching/learning process.
The Pupil Teacher Ratio is also one of key indicators used as proxy for assessing the quality of education, it highlights. However, the report further stresses that it should be noted that there are many other factors that affect the pupil’s learning process; qualified trained teachers, adequate teaching resources and small class sizes are generally more effective. In this regard, “North East District is the best performing in PSLE with 84.38% and South East District with 81.14% performed significantly higher than other districts. The least performing district is Ghanzi at 49.12%.”
The information provided by the report also serves to monitor education related policies and compacts including the ten year basic education for all with emphasis on inclusive education and improved equity, increasing access in secondary and higher education, National Development Plans (NDP), Vision 2016, Education For All(EFA) and Millennium Development Goals (MDG) to mention among a few.
President Mokgweetsi Masisi has taken a stern but unpopular decision within the August House by putting to an end a hefty P403, 200 monthly budget directed towards legislators’ housing allowance.
Since the beginning of the 12th Parliament in November 2019, MPs have been staying in rented spaces. At first they were lodged at Avani hotel and a whooping P6, 2 million was paid by government for accommodation and meals for Members of Parliament and their spouses from October 31, to December 20, 2019.
Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Dr Thapelo Matsheka could be forced to provide a detailed explanation to a number of Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) backbenchers who are not impressed with Government expenditure for the 2020/21 financial year.
The unconvinced lot smell a rat and suggest that the Minister should furnish them with all the balance sheets for all the procurements and reports of all the transactions carried out by government from April 2020. This is so because within them, there is an air of disbelief in relation to the use of national funds by the powers that be.
The Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) is adamant that opposition coalition, Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), will resolve the existing differences in the party leadership, despite fears that the wrangling will dissuade other opposition parties from joining forces.
However, sources from the BPF have indicated that, with or without the UDC the party is determined to move forward and carry on with its mandate. “UDC internal fights need to be resolved, the sooner the better. If they carry on they might cost us in the upcoming elections.”