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.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Lemogang Kwape says Botswana has not taken any position regarding the killing of a renowned human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, who was gunned down at his house in Mbabane, Eswatini.
In a brief interview with WeekendPost, Dr Kwape said Botswana has not yet taken any position regarding his death. He said the purported incident should be thoroughly probed before Botswana can form an opinion based on the findings of the inquiries.
â€śBotswana generally condemns any killing of human life by all means,â€ť says Dr. Kwape. He wouldnâ€™t want to be dragged on whether Botswana will support the suspension of Eswatini from SADC.
â€śWe will be guided by SADC organ Troika if they can be an emergency meeting. I am not sure when the meeting will be called by Namibian president,â€ś he said.
However, the Namibian president Hage Geingob notes with deep concern reports coming out of Eswatini about the killing of Mr. Maseko. In a statement, he called upon the â€śGovernment of the Kingdom of Eswatini to ensure that the killing of Maseko is swiftly, transparently and comprehensively investigated, and that any or all persons suspected of committing this heinous crime are brought to justice.â€ť
Maseko was chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum which was established as a coalition of non-State actors to advocate for a process of national political dialogue aimed at resolving the security and political challenges confronting the Kingdom.
â€śSADC expresses its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Maseko, his friends, colleagues, and to the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini for the loss of Mr. Maseko. In this context, SADC further calls upon the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini to remain calm, exercise due care and consideration whilst the appropriate structures conduct the investigations and bring the matter to completion,â€ť the statement says.
Geingob reiterated the need for peaceful resolution of the political and security challenges affecting the country.
Meanwhile political activists are calling on SADC to suspend Eswatini from the block including the African Union as well.
State prosecutor, Seeletso Ookeditse revealed before the Broadhurst Magistrate Jobbie Moilatshimo that the third accused involved in the murder of Barulaganye Aston, has interfered with the State witnesses again.
The second and third accused (Lefty Kosie and Outlwile Aston) were previously accused of interference when they were caught in possession of cellphones in prison. They were further accused of planning to kill the deceasedâ€™s brother, who is currently the guardian to the children of the deceased.
Ookeditse indicated that Outlwile had earlier went to challenge the magistrateâ€™s decision of denying him bail at the High Court before Judge Michael Motlhabi.
â€śThe third accused approached the High Court and made a bail application, which was dismissed on the same day,â€ť Ookeditse said.
However, even after the High Court verdict on their bail application, the duo (Kosie and Aston) has once again applied for bail this week.
Ookeditse plead with the court to stop the accused from abusing the court process.
â€śYesterday, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) received papers of his bail application filed before the Broadhurst Magistrates Court. However, the papers do not speak to changed circumstances, therefore this back and forth about bail must be put to a stop,â€ť said the State prosecutor.
While giving evidence before court, the Investigations Officer, Detective Inspector Quite Zhalamonto, said his investigations have proved that there is interference continuing regarding the accused trio.
He told the court that on the 12thÂ of January 2023, he received a report from Thato Aston, who is the son of the accused and the deceased. The son had alleged to the Investigation Officer that he received a call from one Phillip Molwantwa.
According to Zhalamonto, Thato revealed that Molwatwa indicated that he was from prison on a visit to the Outlwile Aston and went on to ask where he was staying and where his siblings (Astonâ€™s children) are staying.
â€śThato revealed that Phillip went on to ask if he or his siblings saw their father murdering their mother, and he was referring to the crime scene. Thato told me that he, however, refused to answer the questions as he was afraid especially because he was asked about where him and his siblings stay,â€ť said Zhalamonto.
Zhalamonto alluded to the court that he then went to Orange to confirm the communication between Thato and Molwantwa where he found the case.
â€śI have arrested Philip yesterday and when I interviewed him, he did not deny that he knows Aston and that he has indeed called Thato and asked questions as to where him and his siblings resides even though he failed to give reasons for asking such questions,â€ť Zhalamonto told the court.
He further revealed that Molwantwa indicated that he had received a call from an unknown man who refused to reveal himself.
â€śPhillip told me that the unknown man said he was sent by the accused (Aston), and that Aston had instructed him to tell me to check if there was still some money in his bank accounts, and he also wanted to know where the kids were residing, the unknown man even asked him to meet at Main Mallâ€ť the Investigation Officer told the court.
He further informed the court that he is working tirelessly to identify the â€śunknown callerâ€ť and the route of the cell number.
Furthermore, the fourth accused,Â Kebaleboge Ntsebe, has revealed to the court through a letter that she was abused and tortured by the Botswana Police Services. She wrote in her letter that she suffered miscarriage as a result of being beaten by the police.
Ntsebe is on bail, while a bail ruling for Aston and Kosie will be delivered on the 6thÂ of next month
Cattle farmers from Eretsha and Habu in the Ngamiland district, supported by the Community Based Trade (CBT) project, recently generated over P300 000.00 for sales of 42 cattle to the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) in Maun. This milestone was achieved through support from various stakeholders in conservation, commodity-based trade and the government, in collaboration with farmers. Ordinarily, these farmers would not have made this direct sale since the area is a designated Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Red Zone.
Traditional livestock farming contributes toward livelihoods and formal employment in the North-West District (Ngamiland) of Botswana. However, primarily due to the increase in FMD outbreaks over the past two decades and predation by wildlife, the viability of livestock agriculture as a source of income has declined in the region. This has led to a greater risk of poverty and food insecurity. Access across the Okavango River (prior to the construction of a bridge) restricted access for farmers in Eretsha. This lack of access hampered sales of cattle beyond Shakawe, further discouraging farmers from investing in proper livestock management practices. This resulted in negative environmental impacts, poor livestock health and productivity.
To address this challenge, farmers are working with a consortium led by Conservation International (CI), with funding secured from the European Union (EU) to pilot a CBT beef project. The project focuses on supporting and enabling communal farmers to comply with standards and regulations that will improve their chances to access markets. An opportunity to earn higher income from cattle sales could incentivize the adoption of restorative rangelands management practices by farmers.
â€śWe spend a lot of money getting our cattle to Makalamabedi quarantine site, the herder spends on average two months taking care of the cattle before they are taken into quarantine â€“ that needs money. All these costs lead to us getting less money from BMC,â€ť said one of the farmers in the programme, Mr Monnaleso Mosanga.
Farmers that participate in the project agree for their cattle to be herded and kraaled communally by fulltime professional herders (eco-rangers). At the core of this pilot is the use of predator-proof bomas (cattle kraals), planned grazing systems and mobile quarantine bomas (electrified enclosures) for the cattle, facilitated in support with the Department of Veterinary Services. The first successful exit from the mobile quarantine bomas in the Habu and Eretsha villages, in December 2022, saw cattle quarantined on-site and directly transported to BMC in Maun. Farmers received almost double the average sales within this region, as costs including transportation to quarantine sites, herderâ€™s fees and other associated costs incurred before qualifying for BMC sales were no longer included.
“This pilot mobile quarantine is leveraging the techniques and protocols we are using at our current permanent quarantine sites, and we are still observing the results of the project. The outcome of this pilot will be presented to the World Organisation of Animal Health to assess its effectiveness and potentially be approved to be used elsewhere,â€ť said Dr Odireleng Thololwane, the Principal Veterinary Officer (Maun).