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Education officials race to blow P1 million on retreats

Officials at the Ministry of Basic Education (MoBE) are said to be on a spending spree and racing against time to deplete the remaining funds that formed the P6 billion that was the recurrent budget allocated to the Ministry during the 2017/18 budget. The intention is to beat the deadline of closing of government books.

Government’s financial year cycle ends in March 31st and the Ministry officials are said to be splashing the money to avoid returning unspent millions of pula to the government coffers before the new financial year. Ministry of Basic Education was in 2017 allocated the largest amount of P6.80 billion or 17.2 percent of the total Ministerial Recurrent Budget by Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Kenneth Matambo.

It is understood that some of the funds (about P1 million) have gone unutilized and would have had to be returned but some departments are said to be running helter-skelter to ensure that the funds are all used-albeit not as should have been. The officials are said to have booked expensive and fancy retreats in faraway places as a way of using as much of the remaining funds as possible.

“A lot of funds are spent willy-nilly. Department of Technical Services under the Basic Education Ministry is said to have recently used up close to half a million for a retreat at Kasane,” an insider told WeekendPost this week. The Southern Education region office, still under the Ministry of Basic Education is also said to have used P600 000 at Maun recently also for a retreat. The money is said to have been channeled to Curriculum Development and Evaluation department through to the other individual departments.  

 
Efforts to solicit comment from the Southern Regional Education office Director, Acronews Maseko did not materialize as he along with other senior officials like the Public Relations Officer were said to be still at Maun at press time. Meanwhile when approached by WeekendPost outside parliament following the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security supplementary proposal debate on Wednesday MoBE Assistant Minister Moiseraele Goya pointed out that the government funds said to be splashed on retreats by Ministry officials around the Education regions were budgeted for.

“The cash being used on retreats is the money that was already budgeted on the items before and during the budgeting stage. It was budgeted for that specifically for purposes of capacitating the employees; they must be work-shopped to bring them up to speed in terms of current developments,” he said. On how much money the whole Ministry has utilized so far and how much will be brought back to government coffers the Assistant Minister said it was not yet clear at this point.  

“We cannot know at this juncture as to how much we have spent as a ministry and how much money will be brought back to government. You will know just after the 15th March as the financial year draws to a close. We are still spending,” he further told this publication.
In addition he said: “we also have even requested for a supplementary budget because we have already exhausted our money for the recurrent budget for this year.”

The exhaustion of the recurrent budget of the Ministry has led to depletion of crucial funds like that of payment of temporary teachers, a move which Goya also admitted. Goya confirmed that “at this point we don’t even have funds to pay temporary school teachers. Re nna re kopa kwa le kwa re pecha (we request from here and there to make do for now).”

Meanwhile when speaking before parliament while debating the supplementary budget proposals for the Administration of Justice this week Goya said, like the Ministry of Defence, they always ask for a supplementary budget because they utilise all of the funds on their ministry recurrent budget and that this should be commended.

In the recurrent budget, out of the 6 billion allocated to the Ministry of Basic Education in 2017, the money which has all been used, have assisted in implementation of the Education and Training Sector Strategic Plan (ETSSP) which seeks to refocus education and training towards fulfillment of a more diversified and knowledge-based economy. “You should utilise all funds that you requested accordingly and for this we need to be encouraged and commended,” Goya told parliament while adding that they managed to utilise all the funds except for developmental budget.

In the development budget still in 2017, P844.94 million or 5.1 percent was proposed for allocation to the Ministry of Basic Education. The bulk of these funds amounting to P731.95 million was said to be for Secondary Schools Programme to cater for among others, provision of additional ICT facilities in secondary schools as well as construction of staff houses.

Why some Ministry funds go back to government reserves Goya maintained that the ministry funds get returned to the government treasury because of a slow procurement system by officials. “The development budget is purely for undertakings of ministry projects in terms of infrastructure like classrooms. Part of it will be brought back to government coffers. The reason why the money goes back is that; what has been happening in the past which is unfortunate is that the government officials wait until very late to prepare tender documents,” the Assistant Minister observed.

He pointed out that it is uncalled for and sluggish as the budget process starts around September, every year (like last year) in which the ministry can prepare well in advance for procurement processes. “What must happen after September is that just after the proposals have been sent to the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, then in January the following year the process should have started to prepare the tender documents, and then floating, then companies declaring interest and then adjudication takes place until awarding and then telling them to wait until April 1st when new financial year starts and funds get disbursed.”

Right now is already late as they have not started the process of tendering and that is why, he emphasized, that the money is mostly brought back to the government coffers. Meanwhile in 2018, Ministry of Education has also gotten the largest share amounting to P7.97 billion or 17.7 percent of the total Ministerial Recurrent Budget.

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People with Disabilities Face Barriers to Political Participation in Botswana

23rd February 2024

Individuals challenged by disabilities encounter formidable obstacles when endeavoring to partake in political processes within the context of Botswana. Political involvement, a cornerstone of democratic governance, empowers citizens to shape the legislative landscape that impacts their daily existence. Despite Botswana’s reputation for upholding democratic ideals, recent insights unveil a troubling reality – those with disabilities find themselves marginalized in the realm of politics, contending with substantial barriers obstructing the exercise of their democratic liberties.

A recent inquiry in Botswana unveiled a panorama where individuals with disabilities confront hurdles in navigating the political arena, their involvement often restricted to the basic act of voting. Voices emerged from the study, underscoring the critical necessity of fostering environments that are accessible and welcoming, affording individuals with disabilities the active engagement they rightfully deserve in political processes. Noteworthy was the account of a participant grappling with physical impairments, shedding light on the glaring absence of ramps at polling stations and the urgent call for enhanced support mechanisms to ensure an equitable electoral participation.

The echoes reverberating from these narratives serve as poignant reminders of the entrenched obstacles impeding the full integration of individuals with disabilities into the democratic tapestry. The inaccessibility of polling stations and the glaring absence of provisions tailored to the needs of persons with disabilities loom large as formidable barricades to their political engagement. Particularly pronounced is the plight of those grappling with severe impairments and intellectual challenges, who face even steeper hurdles in seizing political participation opportunities, often grappling with feelings of isolation and exclusion from the political discourse.

Calls for decisive action cascade forth, urging the establishment of more inclusive and accessible political ecosystems that embrace individuals with disabilities in Botswana. Government bodies and concerned stakeholders are urged to prioritize the enactment of laws and policies designed to safeguard the political rights of individuals with disabilities. Furthermore, initiatives geared towards enhancing awareness and education on political processes and rights for this segment of society must be spearheaded, alongside the adoption of inclusive measures within political institutions and party structures.

By dismantling these barriers and nurturing a political landscape that is truly inclusive, Botswana can earnestly uphold its democratic ethos and afford every citizen, including those with disabilities, a substantive opportunity to partake in the political fabric of the nation.

 

 

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Neo Kirchway- Defying the odds

23rd February 2024

In the heartwarming tale of Neo Kirchway, a beacon of inspiration emerges, shining brightly amid life’s adversities.

Defying the constraints of destiny, Neo Kirchway, a resilient Motswana soul now thriving in the United States, stands tall despite the absence of her lower limbs. With unwavering determination, she tends to her cherished family – a loving husband and four children – engaging in the daily symphony of household tasks with remarkable grace.

Neo’s indomitable spirit traces back to the fateful year of 1994, a time when medical intervention called for the amputation of her curled legs. Embracing this pivotal juncture with unwavering courage and the blessing of her mother, she ventured forth into a world adorned with prosthetic legs, eager to script a tale of triumph.

Venturing beyond borders, Neo’s journey led her to the embrace of the United States, where serendipity intertwined her fate with that of her soulmate, Garrett Kirchway. Together, this harmonious duo navigates the ebbs and flows of life, their bond fortified by unwavering love and unyielding support.

In a bid to illuminate paths and embolden hearts, Neo leverages the digital realm, crafting a sanctuary of empowerment on her YouTube channel. Brimming with authenticity and raw emotion, her videos chronicle the tapestry of her daily life, serving as a testament to resilience and the unwavering human spirit.

Amidst the digital cosmos, Neo, affectionately known as “KirchBaby,” reigns supreme, a luminary in the hearts of 658,000 enraptured subscribers. Through her captivating content, she not only navigates the mundane tasks of cooking, cleaning, and childcare but also dances with celestial grace, a testament to her boundless spirit and unyielding zest for life.

In the cathedral of Neo Kirchway’s narrative, resilience reigns supreme, echoing a universal truth – that amidst life’s gales, the human spirit, when kindled by hope and fortitude, emerges as a beacon of light, illuminating even the darkest of paths.

 

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Inequalities Faced by Individuals with Disabilities

22nd February 2024

The government’s efforts to integrate individuals with disabilities in Botswana society are being hampered by budgetary constraints. Those with disabilities face inequalities in budgetary allocations in the health and education sectors. For instance, it is reported that the government allocates higher budgetary funds to the general health sector, while marginal allocations are proposed for the development and implementation of the National Primary Health Care guidelines and Standards for those with Disabilities. This shows that in terms of budgetary solutions, the government’s proposed initiatives in improving the health and well-being of those with disabilities remain futile as there is not enough money going towards disability-specific health programs. On the other hand, limited budgetary allocations to the Special Education Unit also are a primary contributor to the inequalities faced by children with disabilities. The government only provides for the employment of 15 teachers with qualifications in special education despite the large numbers of children with intellectual disabilities that are in need of special education throughout Botswana. Such disproportional allocation of resources inhibits the capacity to provide affordable and accessible assisted technology and residential support services for those with disabilities. Given the fact that a different amount of resources have been availed to the education and health sectors, the general understanding is that the government is not doing enough to ensure that adequate resources are distributed to disability-specific programs and facilities such as barrier-free environments, residential homes, and special education schools for children with disabilities.

 

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