Two hundred and ninety-one (291) teachers and administrators who enrolled in government’s ICT Teacher Training Programme, COMP 101, graduated at the Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) campus on Tuesday this week.
The programme is a collaboration between the Ministry of Basic Education (MoBE), the Botswana Schools ICT Association (BoSICTA) and BIUST. The teachers, who were trained on computer basics, were the second cohort to graduate under the programme. Government, through the Basic Education Ministry has embarked on nationwide ICT infrastructure development and in the same breadth, improvement of ICT literacy in all government schools, from Primary, Junior to Secondary schools. A group of Computer Awareness and Computer studies teachers who were keen to deliver in that regard founded BoSICTA, and eventually knocked at the doors of BIUST to help them deliver in that mandate.
A partnership was formed and BIUST would train Trainers who would later train the teachers and administrators, some of which graduated this week. Giving an overview of the initiative, Mmamosetsana Maposa, a representative from the Ministry’s Central District office, said the ministry had set for itself high standards to improve quality of Education by making full use of Information and Communication technology. We have since set our motto to “Discovering the 21st century leaner”. We want educators who can produce learners who can fit anywhere in the world.”
She continued: “To realise this dream, the Ministry has since embarked on nation-wide ICT infrastructure development. Schools are being supplied with tablets to add on to desktop computers that have been supplied before. Efforts are being made to improve access to Internet connectivity. We have since introduced draft computer Awareness syllabus in Primary Schools. All levels of our Basic Education offer computer Awareness and Computer Studies is also offered in Senior Schools as an optional subject.”
So far, she added all syllabi in Secondary Schools have Infused ICT skills, as it is an emerging issue. BIUST, she said, had offered them timely support and there is growing hope that all teachers would be able to deliver their syllabus fully. Maposa said that so far, five regions, being Mahalapye, Palapye, Serowe, Bobonong and Tonota sub-region had graduated under the programme. “Our target is to reach at least 15 teachers in all schools in our remaining 3 sub-regions.”
Giving the keynote address, Managing Director of Dimension Data, Duncan Pie said the initiative was a welcome one, particularly in the 21st century. “You are well positioned to be 21st century teachers and citizens. In this era of Artificial Intelligence computer skills are a basic right. One thing about teachers is they are resourceful and very good planners, now with the added computer knowledge I expect efficiency in our curriculum administration and delivery.” Pie encouraged the graduates to share their acquired knowledge and skills with other colleagues and students.
BoSICTA President, Kobamelo Mogampane said what the association does in schools as agents of Information Technology is paramount to success of all schools in the 21st century. “Our successes and achievements will always be measured by the ability of our schools to shift from traditional method of curriculum delivery which is based on chalk board, and teacher as the source of all information, to where learning is more student centred, where we have the ability to develop creative thinkers.” He said that it is important for teachers to take advantage of the digital world, which brings with it a constant stream of information.
BIUST Vice Chancellor, Prof Otlogetswe Totolo said that it was only right that BIUST as the leading university in science, engineering and ICT training be involved in the initiative. He said the knowledge acquired would help teachers improve on education delivery and its management. “ICT and its integration in education can help in building an inlusive knowledge society for all.
He added: “ICT is seen as an important catalyst and accelerator for development, having the ability to attract investment, create jobs, promote knowledge building and sharing, facilities innovation and contribute to good governance and more importantly efficient and transparent provision of services.” BoSICTA was founded in 2013 and began a relationship with BIUST a few years later, where the university trained teachers and their trainers under the initiative.
The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s decision to reject and appeal the High Court’s verdict on a case involving High Court Judge, Dr Zein Kebonang has frustrated the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Judge Kebonang’s back to work discussions.
JSC and Kebonang have been in constant discussions over the latter’s return to work following a ruling by a High Court panel of judges clearing him of any wrong doing in the National Petroleum Fund criminal case filed by the DPP. However the finalization of the matter has been hanged on whether the DPP will appeal the matter or not – the prosecution body has since appealed.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) top brass has declined a request by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to negotiate the legal fees occasioned by 2019 general elections petition in which the latter disputed in court the outcome of the elections.
This publication is made aware that UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando was left with an egg on his face after the BDP big wigs, comprising of party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane and Secretary General Mpho Balopi rejected his plea.
“He was told that this is a legal matter and therefore their (UDC) lawyer should engage ours (BDP) for negotiations because it is way far from our jurisdiction,” BDP Head of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, told this publication.
This spelt doom for the main opposition party and Saleshando who seems not to have confidence and that the UDC lawyers have the dexterity to negotiate these kind of matters. It is not clear whether Saleshando requested UDC lawyer Boingotlo Toteng to sit at the table with Bogopa Manewe, Tobedza and Co, who are representing the BDP to strike a deal as per the BDP top echelons suggested.
“From my understanding, the matter is dealt with politically as the two parties are negotiating how to resolve it, but by far nothing has come to me on the matter. So I believe they are still substantively engaging each other,” Toteng said briefly in an interview on Thursday.
UDC petitioners saddled with costs after mounting an unprecedented legal suit before the court to try and overturn BDP’s October 2019 victory. The participants in the legal matter involves 15 parliamentary candidates’ and nine councillors. The UDC petitioned the court and contested the outcome of the elections citing “irregularities in some of the constituencies”.
In a brief ruling in January 2020, Judge President Ian Kirby on behalf of a five-member panel said: “We have no jurisdiction to entertain these appeals. These appeals must be struck out each with costs including costs of counsel”. This was a second blow to the UDC in about a month after their 2019 appeals were dismissed by the High Court a day before Christmas Day.
This week BDP attorneys decided to attach UDC petitioners’ property in a bid to settle the debts. UDC President Duma Boko is among those that will see their property being attached with 14 of his party members. “We have attached some and we are on course. So far, Dr. Mpho Pheko (who contested Gaborone Central) and that of Dr, Micus Chimbombi (who contested Kgalagadi South) will have their assets being sold on the 5th of February 2021,” BDP attorney Basimane Bogopa said.
Asked whether they met with UDC lawyers to try solve the matter, Bogopa said no and added. “Remember we are trying to raise the client’s funds, so after these two others will follow. Right now we are just prioritising those from Court of Appeal, as soon as the high court is done with taxation we will attach.”
Saleshando, when contacted about the outcomes of the meeting with the BDP, told WeekendPost that: “It would not be proper and procedural for me to tell you about the meeting outcomes before I share with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC), so I will have to brief them first.”
UDC NEC will meet on the 20th of next month to deal with a number of thorny issues including settling the legal fees. Negotiations with other opposition parties- Alliance for Progressives and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) are also on the agenda.
Currently, UDC has raised P44 238 of the P565 000 needed to cover bills from the Court of Appeal (CoA). This is the amount in a UDC trust account which is paltry funds equating 7.8 per cent of the overall required money. In the past despite the petitioners maintaining that there was promise to assist them to settle legal fees, UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa then said the party has never agreed in no way to help them.
“We have just been put in debt by someone,” one of the petitioners told this publication in the past. “President’s (Duma Boko) message was clear at the beginning that money has been sourced somewhere to help with the whole process but now we are here there is nothing and we are just running around trying to make ends meet and pay,” added the petitioner in an interview UDC NEC has in December last year directed all the 57 constituencies to each raise a minimum of P10, 000. The funds will be used to settle debts that are currently engulfing the petitioners with Sheriffs, who are already hovering around ready to attach their assets.
The petitioners, despite the party intervention, have every right to worry. “This is so because ‘the deadline for this initiative (P10, 000 per constituency) is the end of the first quarter of this year (2021),” a period in which the sheriffs would have long auctioned the properties.
President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko’s alliance with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama continues to unsettle some quarters within the opposition collective, who believe the duo, if not managed, will once again result in an unsuccessful bid for government in 2024.
While Khama has denied that he has undeclared preference to have Boko remaining as leader of UDC, many believe that the two have a common programme, while other opposition leaders remain on the side-lines.