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Modern education almost non-existent in Africa

Although in all human societies education has been found to be important and more so in the 21st century because it is tool for promoting material, spiritual, physical and economic development, unfortunately formal education is still almost non-existent and foreign to Africa today. What we refer to as education today is modern formal education or the school system and yet lifelong learning is indigenous to Africa.

This is according to University of Botswana academic of Lifelong Learning at the Department of Adult Education, Professor Idowu Biao. Professor Biao made the revelations when delivering a public lecture on “Lifelong Learning, Traditional African Education and Development” at UB last week. He was presenting research findings which sought to test the efficacy of the Human Development Index Literacy theory which claims that provision of basic education, advancement in nutrition, health and life expectation can be promoted through a specifically designed literacy programme suited to the needs of rural Africa where money/capital is scarce.

Biao contends that generally, investment on education in Africa indicates a high level of wastage at the level of school education. While on average 90-95% complete primary education; 75-90% complete upper secondary in developed OECD countries and 40% complete tertiary, by comparison only 20% of school education exists in Africa and 70% of education and learning going on in

Africa is still lifelong learning. Only about 50% of those qualified for school age in Africa are in school. Because of the MDGs, African primary schools have achieved mammoth enrolments of about 90%, but only 50% complete primary school due to huge drop-out rate. Before the introduction of the MGDs Africa’s primary school enrolment was a paltry 56% or less.  In Botswana dropout rates are lower but still a case of concern at 35-49% in primary, 10% at secondary and university gross enrolment estimated at 13%.

Only 35-40% of Africa’s youth finish high/secondary school with a continental average percentage of tertiary gross enrolment at around a mere 7% of those qualified to enter university compared with most developed OECD countries tertiary participation rate of 40% and more, 96% success rate at primary school and 77% at secondary school for the whole population. OECD countries are doing well because their citizens fully benefit from formal education.

Yet in the 21st century education is widely acknowledged as the driver of development, but the question posed is which type of education is the driver for Africa in the light of almost non-existence  of formal education in Africa. The real drivers of development are not primary and secondary education but universities as generators of knowledge. Botswana has surpassed Africa’s average of 7% to achieve 13% participation rate at tertiary levels but the threshold is still not enough compared to developed OECD countries rate of at least 40% with some countries having achieved 100%.  

The logical question then is which way for Africa and how can Africa develop? There was an education system that developed before the advent of colonialism called traditional African education (TAE) or lifelong learning. Lifelong learning has been existent in Africa before the study of modern universities.  The study of modern lifelong learning started in Africa in 1972 long preceded by the idea that education must be lifelong in 1929 as articulated by Basil Yeaxlee. However traditional African education or African lifelong learning has been in existence for millennia. While school education remains relevant for the purpose of linking and opening up Africa to the rest of the world, the ultimate sustainable development for Africa rests in the promotion of lifelong learning.

The argument or thesis is that since formal education is non-existent in Africa in order to drive economic and social development, Africa should fall back on African lifelong learning combined with formal education to drive the development of Africa. Therefore, research should be encouraged in traditional African lifelong learning because investment in modern formal education has been pathetic with 70% of higher education products in Africa jobless and roaming the streets because the education system is incompatible with the job market while by comparison, OECD countries find jobs for the 40% of their citizens who are graduates. Africans have to be critical and cannot afford to stick only to what they learned at school but should also look at their own resources to serve their needs.

Traditional African education has always served traditional Africa as lone system of education based on the idea that learning goes on throughout and beyond the physical lifetime and is based on a strong connection between the physical and the non-physical/spiritual worlds and therefore a dual learning content. In the Botswana context, it is estimated that about 42% of the population is rural based on the reclassification of rural villages to urban villages since 1991, notwithstanding this, the nomenclature villages in urban villages still keep them close to ruralness. By 2015, about 70% of Africans still live in rural areas, with the highest population of potential workforce- the youth- in rural areas comprising more than half of the overall rural population. Between 1993 -2003, the poverty headcount ratio in rural Botswana fell from 47% to 30.6, falling further to 23% by 2009 but is suspected to have risen to 28-30% between 2009 and 2015, says Professor Biao.

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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

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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