The junior Certificate results have maintained last year’s lacklustre pass rate, making a slight improvement of a mere 1.2 percent increase, while the lowest performing school reached an all time low score.
Against the backdrop of growing concern over the negligence of education by officials, the pass rate has for the past six years in a row remained way below the 50 percent mark. The mining town school Orapa JSS reclaimed the top spot, after playing second fiddle to Nanogang JSS for the last three years. Meanwhile Nanogang, which has been dominant, fell to position four in the Top 10 bracket. None of the schools in the top 10 bracket reached the 80 percent pass mark.
The results also expose the gap that exist between urban and rural schools, an indication which also shows policy failure in offering customised solutions to learners in different schools based on their needs. From the Top 10 performing schools in Botswana; three are from the capital Gaborone (Bonnington JSS, Nanogang JSS and Tlogatloga JSS); three from the besieged mining town of Selebi Phikwe (Meepong JSS, Makhubu JSS and Phatsimo JSS); the other remaining four are from Francistown (Setlalekgosi JSS), Jwaneng (Kgosi Mpe JSS), Orapa (Orapa JSS) and Mogobane (Mogobane JSS), which is a surprise addition to the list.
Meanwhile the bottom 10 schools are all from rural areas, the worst performer being Tapologo Junior Secondary School in Werda, Kgalagadi District. The recently released results indicate that 90.8 percent of pupils at Tapologo JSS failed to get a grade of C or better.
POVERTY AND EDUCATION
The recent results were released amid diverse published studies and reports indicating that inequality and poverty is having a bearing on whether families, nations and individuals make socio economic progress or not. Several reports including the United Nations Development Programme which developed the Human Development Index (HDI) as a metric to assess the social and economic development levels of countries, indicates that failure to address poverty and inequality may lead to corrosive legacies and sustained poverty.
It has been observed that Botswana, like any other countries experience a link between poverty, education and health. School in urban areas, where there are little incidences of poverty do well when compared to their counterparts in rural areas. This means pupils in urban areas have a better opportunity of progressing to the highest education possible, while those in rural areas are unlikely to reach the top.
A survey from Statistics Botswana released a week ago revealed that Kweneng West is the worst hit by poverty, overtaking Ngamiland which was the worst hit by poverty in previous surveys. Kweneng is the only region according to the survey that has more than 50 percent of its population living under the poverty datum line.
It is followed by Ngwaketse West, Kgalagadi South, Ghanzi as well as Ngamiland. Meanwhile the North East district, Gaborone, Jwaneng, Lobatse, Central Boteti as well as Barolong areas are the least affected by poverty. These findings reflect the link between education and poverty, as evidenced by disparities that exist between people in rural areas and those in urban or semi-urban areas. The bottom 10 worst performing schools (See the inserted table) from the recent JC results are all from rural areas.
Minister of Basic Education Unity Dow last year conceded that there is a disturbing disparity between rural and urban schools, which she said is caused by various factors including the involvement of parents in urban areas compared to those in rural areas. Another aspect which Dow added as a factor is the socio-economic variable.
NO POLICY INTERVENTION
Although the results have been dwindling since 2010, and took a worse turn in 2012, Dow said she has no idea why the schools were performing dismally. Since 2012, after the introduction of a new syllabus and marking system, the JC results which were released never bettered those of the preceding year; actually they are becoming consistently worse in subsequent years.
“In the absence of an in-depth research into the root cause, we cannot certainly pin-point a singular cause for this,” Dow told a press conference last year after release of the 2016 JC results. “A tracer study of the candidates who progress from PSLE (Primary School Leaving Examinations) for instance can help us understand if pupils improve or become poorer as they transit from primary to secondary,” she said.
Dow said the tracer study would be used to establish various factors among them; if they are accepting into mainstream, pupils who should otherwise be receiving specialized education, if the automatic progression had an impact on pupils who proceed to the next stage before having mastered the one they are currently in, the influencing social factors on the subject choice of young people and how it affects the way they perform in examinations. There was a promise however by Grace Muzila, Permanent Secretary in the Basic Education ministry that government was already working on addressing disparity between rural and urban schools by prioritising resource allocation in their budgeting.
THE NEW MARKING AND GRADING SYSTEM
In 2010 government introduced the revised Junior Secondary curriculum and was first used in the JC examination in 2012. BEC was required to come up with new assessment designs that are aligned to the philosophical and outcome intentions of the new curriculum.
The new grading system has attracted a lot of criticism from the general public with some opining that it is designed to fail the students while some are of the view that it does not reflect the real performance of the pupils. The introduction of the new curriculum came at a point when BEC was in the process of changing the assessment at JC with regard to the way syllabuses were graded. Starting with the 2012 examinations, JC syllabuses were graded using a Standards-Based grading procedure and not the Norm-Referenced grading procedure used in previous examinations.
According to BEC, the move to adopt a Standards-Based grading procedure was motivated by the fact that it provides more informative evaluation of student’s performance and allows year to year comparisons of national performance patterns.
The Norm-Referenced grading procedure focuses on rating a student’s performance relative to that of others in the same cohort, while the Standards-Based grading procedure shows the extent to which the candidates achieved specified outcomes of learning.
This allows for detailed reporting on actual capabilities of candidates since their performance is judged against defined standards. Such reports provide information that is critical for informing the education system, policy and school improvement initiatives. Meanwhile another school of thought is that government should make pre -school mandatory so as to give all pupils a chance to undergo early childhood mentoring.
Over 2,000 civil servants in the public sector have been interdicted for a variety of reasons, the majority of which are criminal in nature.
According to reports, some officers have been under interdiction for more than two years because such matters are still being investigated. Information reachingÂ WeekendPostÂ shows that local government, particularly councils, has the highest number of suspended officers.
In its annual report, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) revealed that councils lead in corrupt activities throughout the country, and dozens of council employees are being investigated for alleged corrupt activities. It is also reported that disciplined forces, including the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), police, and prisons, and the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) have suspended a significant number of officers.
The Ministry of Education and Skills Development has also recorded a good number of teachers who have implicated in love relationships with students, while some are accused of impregnating students both in primary and secondary school. Regional education officers have been tasked to investigate such matters and are believed to be far from completion as some students are dragging their feet in assisting the investigations to be completed.
This year, Mmadinare Senior Secondary reportedly had the highest number of pregnancies, especially among form five students who were later forcibly expelled from school. Responding to this publicationâ€™s queries, Permanent Secretary to the Office of the President Emma Peloetletse said, â€śas you might be aware, I am currently addressing public servants across the length and breadth of our beautiful republic. Due to your detailed enquiry, I am not able to respond within your schedule,â€ť she said.
She said some of the issues raised need verification of facts, some are still under investigation while some are still before the courts of law.
Meanwhile, it is close to six months since the Police Commissioner Keabetwe Makgophe, Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katlholo and the Deputy Director of the DIS Tefo Kgothane were suspended from their official duties on various charges.
Efforts to solicit comment from trade unions were futile at the time of going to press.
Some suspended officers who opted for anonymity claimed that they have close to two years while on suspension. One stated that the investigations that led him to be suspended have not been completed.
â€śIt is heartbreaking that at this time the investigations have not been completed,â€ť he toldÂ WeekendPost, adding that â€śwhen a person is suspended, they get their salary fully without fail until the matter is resolvedâ€ť.
Makgophe, Katlholo and Kgothane are the three most high-ranking government officials that are under interdiction.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and some senior government officials are abuzz with reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has requested his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane not to contest the next general elections in 2024.
The impacts of climate change are increasing in frequency and intensity every year and this is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future. African CEOs in the Global South are finally coming to the party on how to tackle the crisis.
Following the completion of COP27 in Egypt recently, CEOs of Africa DFIs converged in Botswana for the CEO Forum of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions. One of the key themes was on green financing and building partnerships for resource mobilization in financing SDGs in Africa
A report; “Weathering the storm; African Development Banks response to Covid-19” presented shocking findings during the seminar. Among them; African DFI’s have proven to be financially resilient, and they are fast shifting to a green transition and it’s financing.
COO, CEDA, James Moribame highlighted that; “Everyone needs food, shelter and all basic needs in general, but climate change is putting the achievement of this at bay. “It is expensive for businesses to do business, for instance; it is much challenging for the agricultural sector due to climate change, and the risks have gone up. If a famer plants crops, they should be ready for any potential natural disaster which will cost them their hard work.”
According to Moribame, Start-up businesses will forever require help if there is no change.
“There is no doubt that the Russia- Ukraine war disrupted supply chains. SMMEs have felt the most impact as some start-up businesses acquire their materials internationally, therefore as inflation peaks, this means the exchange rate rises which makes commodities expensive and challenging for SMMEs to progress. Basically, the cost of doing business has gone up. Governments are no longer able to support DFI’s.”
Moribame shared remedies to the situation, noting that; “What we need is leadership that will be able to address this. CEOs should ensure companies operate within a framework of responsible lending. They also ought to scout for opportunities that would be attractive to investors, this include investors who are willing to put money into green financing. Botswana is a prime spot for green financing due to the great opportunity that lies in solar projects. ”
Technology has been hailed as the economy of the future and thus needs to be embraced to drive operational efficiency both internally and externally.
Executive Director, bank of Industry Nigeria, Simon Aranou mentioned that for investors to pump money to climate financing in Africa, African states need to be in alignment with global standards.
“Do what meets world standards if you want money from international investors. Have a strong risk management system. Also be a good borrower, if you have a loan, honour the obligation of paying it back because this will ensure countries have a clean financial record which will then pave way for easier lending of money in the future. African states cannot just be demanding for mitigation from rich countries. Financing needs infrastructure to complement it, you cannot be seating on billions of dollars without the necessary support systems to make it work for you. Domestic resource mobilisation is key. Use public money to mobilise private money.” He said.
For his part, the Minster of Minister of Entrepreneurship, Karabo Gare enunciated that, over the past three years, governments across the world have had to readjust their priorities as the world dealt with the effects and impact of the COVID 19 pandemic both to human life and economic prosperity.
“The role of DFIs, during this tough period, which is to support governments through countercyclical measures, including funding of COVID-19 related development projects, has become more important than ever before. However, with the increasingly limited resources from governments, DFIs are now expected to mobilise resources to meet the fiscal gaps and continue to meet their developmental mandates across the various affected sectors of their economies.” Said Gare.