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Gov’t haunted by failure to implement Kedikilwe Commission

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.

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Transgender persons in Botswana live a miserable life

23rd November 2020
Transgender persons

An international report complied in South Africa dubbed ‘Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana’ says that the transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana live a miserable life. The community experiences higher levels of discrimination, violence and ill health.

In this report, it has been indicated that this is because their gender identity, which does not conform to narrowly define societal norms, renders them more vulnerable. Gender identity is a social determinant of health, which means that it is a factor that influences people’s health via their social context, their communities and their experiences of social exclusion. The Ministry of Health and Wellness has recognized this, and transgender people are considered a vulnerable population under the Botswana Second National Strategic Framework for HIV and AIDS 2010-2017.

In a recent study that shed light on the lived experiences of transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana, transgender persons often experience discrimination because of their gender identity and expression. The study was conducted by the University of Cape Town, LEGABIBO, BONELA, as well as Rainbow Identity Association and approved by the Health Ministry as well as the University of Botswana.

Of the 77 transgender and gender non-conforming people who participated in the study, less than half were employed. Two thirds, which is approximately 67% said that they did not have sufficient funds to cover their everyday needs. Two in five had hidden health concerns from their healthcare provider because they were afraid to disclose their gender identity.

More than half said that because of their gender identity, they had been treated disrespectfully at a healthcare facility (55%), almost half (46%) said they had been insulted at a healthcare facility, and one quarter (25%) had been denied healthcare because of their gender identity.

At the same time, the ‘Are we doing right’ study suggests that transgender and non-conforming people might be at higher risks of experiencing violence and mental ill-health, compared to the general population. More than half had experienced verbal embarrassment because of their gender identity, 48% had experienced physical violence and more than one third (38%) had experienced sexual violence.

The study showed that mental health concerns were high among transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana. Half of the transgender and gender non-conforming study participants (53%) showed signs of depression. Between one in four and one in six showed signs of moderate or severe anxiety (22% among transgender women, 24% among transgender men and 17% among gender non-conforming people).

Further, the study revealed that many had attempted suicide: one in three transgender women (32%), more than one in three transgender men (35%) and three in five gender non-conforming people (61%).

International research, as well as research from Botswana, suggests that not being able to change one’s gender marker has a negative impact on access to healthcare and mental health and wellbeing. The study further showed that one in four transgender people in Botswana (25%) had been denied access to healthcare. This is, at least in part, linked to not being able to change one’s gender marker in the identity documents, and thus not having an identity document that matches one’s gender identity and gender expression.

In its Assessment of Legal and Regulatory Framework for HIV, AIDS and Tuberculosis, the Health Ministry noted that “transgender persons in Botswana are unable to access identity documents that reflect their gender identity, which is a barrier to health services, including in the context of HIV. In one documented case, a transwoman’s identity card did not reflect her gender identity- her identity card photo indicated she was ‘male’. When she presented her identity card at a health facility, a health worker called the police who took her into custody.”

The necessity of a correct national identity document goes beyond healthcare. The High Court of Botswana explains that “the national identity document plays a pivotal role in every Motswana’s daily life, as it links him or her with any service they require from various institutions. Most activities in the country require every Motswana to produce their identity document, for identification purposes of receiving services.”

According to the Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana report, this effectively means that transgender, whose gender identity and expression is likely to be different from the sex assigned to them at birth and from what is recorded on their identity document, cannot access services without risk of denial or discrimination, or accusations of fraud.

In this context, gays and lesbians advocacy group LEGABIBO has called on government through the Department of Civil and National Registration to urgently implement the High Court rulings on gender marker changes. As stated by the High Court in the ND vs Attorney General of Botswana judgement, identity cards (Omang) play an important role in the life of every Motswana. Refusal and or delay to issue a Motswana with an Omang is denying them to live a complete and full-filing life with dignity and violates their privacy and freedom of expression.

The judgement clarified that persons can change their gender marker as per the National Registrations Act, so changing the gender marker is legally possible. There is no need for a court order. It further said the person’s gender is self-identified, there is no need to consult medical doctors.

LEGABIBO also called on government to develop regulations that specify administrative procedure to change one’s gender marker, and observing self-determination process. Further, the group looks out for government to ensure members of the transgender community are engaged in the development of regulations.

“We call on this Department of Civil and National Registration to ensure that the gender marker change under the National Registration Act is aligned to the Births and Deaths Registry Act to avoid court order.

Meanwhile, a gay man in Lobatse, Moabi Mokenke was recently viciously killed after being sexually violated in the streets of Peleng, shockingly by his neighbourhood folks. The youthful lad, likely to be 29-years old, met his fate on his way home, from the wearisome Di a Bowa taverns situated in the much populated township of Peleng Central.

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Khato Civils fights back, dares detractors

23rd November 2020
Khato-civil

CEO of Khato Civils Mongezi Mnyani has come out of the silence and is going all way guns blazing against the company’s adversaries who he said are hell-bent on tarnishing his company’s image and “hard-earned good name”

Speaking to WeekendPost from South Africa, Mnyani said it is now time for him to speak out or act against his detractors. Khato Civils has done several projects across Africa. Khato Civils, a construction company and its affiliate engineering company, South Zambezi have executed a number of world class projects in South Africa, Malawi and now recently here in Botswana.

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UDC petitioners turn to Saleshando

23rd November 2020
Dumelang Saleshando

About ten (10) Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) parliamentary candidates who lost the 2019 general election and petitioned results this week met with UDC Vice President, Dumelang Saleshando to discuss the way forward concerning the quandary that is the legal fees put before them by Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) lawyers.

For a while now, UDC petitioners who are facing the wrath of quizzical sheriffs have demanded audience with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC) but in vain. However after the long wait for a tete-a-tete with the UDC, the petitioners met with Saleshando accompanied by other NEC members including Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, Reverend Mpho Dibeela and Dennis Alexander.

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