The Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) has weighed on the continued poor performance of students at Junior and Senior Schools levels. The Union’s General Secretary, Topias Marenga says the educational embarrassment is not new; it has been a national trend for some years now. In a BOPEU position paper Marenga says this year we continue to see more youngsters at grade D being advanced to BGCSE.
“This effectively translating to the poor performance we have just experienced. Unfortunately this educational embarrassment is not only about the moment, it is about the bleak future of generations as being built by an education system that does not address immediate concerns with the urgency they arise; the urgency they so vehemently require,” he said.
To address this fiasco, BOPEU proposes that Botswana must act on an urgent basis to amicably find resolve. “As a country we cannot take comfort in the subject of deteriorating education system without visible action. BOPEU appreciates that a number of efforts have been made to improve the condition of service for the teachers. That notwithstanding, must tally with an improvement of results.”
Marenga says his unions continues to implore that it is time the Government of Botswana urgently implements the three education Ministries system.
“It is our view and conviction that dividing the Ministry of Education into three functional special areas to serve the country and the people of Botswana, will ignite better performance and bring about an improvement in the results.”
“This is because, there will be more focus by the assigned Ministry to see an improvement in their area, as they will be each held accountable for a more manageable chunk of the Ministry. This will also bring efficiencies in the Management systems within the Ministries, extending to the teaching staff. It is our believe then that this will bring not only peace and harmony amongst the teaching staff, but will most importantly drive the motivation to achieve the desired results envisaged for the future as embedded in the vision of this country.
This will further cultivate and produce the zeal and energy needed to move beyond today with outmost vigour and produce the right quality of educated, skilled and upright citizens to take this country forward,” Marenga says.
According to the BOPEU Secretary General, concentration on education is an urgent need; in the short term it will alleviate the high unemployment rate which the country is struggling to curb, and in the long term it will continue to be a positive indicator for growing the economy. Marenga says our education results cannot be separated from the labour market dynamics because all these function within the labour supply chain.
He observed that developing a quality education system has its impact translating in a productive labour force, and the opposite is otherwise an unproductive sector coupled with a population that is highly dependent on government, which would not survive elsewhere.
BOPEU through Marenga deducts that poor results, which lead to high unemployment is acerbated by our inability as a society to create alternative sustainable employment means.
“Citizens are all expecting jobs from the government and naturally so, when failed by the government education system, it becomes almost impossible to become a part of the main stream society where they can compete and create employment for themselves and others. We appreciate that our ever growing population has not been kind to accommodate the level of educational developments needed to grow this country, and we are also of the view that action has been very minimal.”
According to BOPEU, the continual lack of Botswana to prioritise education, if allowed to continue, will bring disastrous results in the end.
Marenga says no one wishes to see a revolution of young people in future addressing the issues of unfairness and educational injustices perpetuated by the past, and hence there is an urgent need to resolve this disaster.
The BOPEU position is that the Ministry of Education in its current format is unnecessarily huge for a country that has developed like Botswana, “our firm proposal continues to be that it is high time the Ministry of Education is divided into the three Ministries.”â€¨
BOPEU proposes a Ministry of Pre-Primary and Primary education; A full Minister at this Ministry will be in charge of both Day Care, Nursery, Pre-School, Reception and Primary Education. These will include the necessary operatives covering the Teaching Staff, Teaching Administrators, Researchers, and Directors amongst others. This Ministry like the two others will also be responsible for safe guarding and taking care of its own infrastructure, study materials and necessary resources amongst other things.
BOPEU further proposes the Ministry of Low and High Secondary Education; At this ministry a full Minister will be in full charge of the ever growing Secondary Schools and the associated challenges related to managing a teenager. This growth of Secondary Schools is a result of a growing population and every growth in population brings its own challenges.
The Minister at this Ministry will also address the plight of the Teachers who for a long time have asked to be engaged in finding resolve to their woes. Their appeals for engagement on welfare, housing, allowances, terms of employment and progressions etc. continues to be almost impossible to resolve due to the hectic schedule of a Minister who has to run such a huge Ministry.
Last they propose the Ministry of Tertiary Learning: They opine that in neighbouring countries, Tertiary Education is up in flames, riots are a daily affair. There is a Setswana saying that “ere obona bodiba bojeleng ngwana waga mmago, o bo kakologe”. Back home in Botswana, at the time of issuing this communique, several Technical Colleges around the country have been closed due to strikes and fear of escalating violence, Private institutions are no exceptions.
The University of Botswana is forever in clashes either between students and the Government or the students and the University of Botswana Management. These scenarios cannot be simply ignored or wished away as they are a clear manifestation of things not going right. We are not apportioning blame, we are simply raising a red flag that the government of Botswana needs to act progressively and with outmost urgency to ensure that different needs are handled with the due care.
“Though every Ministry will be independent from each other and receiving its budget directly and independently from the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, the Botswana Qualifications Authority (which has just been established by merging both the Tertiary Council and the Botswana Training Authority) should together with the Botswana Human Resource Council be tasked with close monitoring of standards at the respective Ministries,” Marenga says in his position paper.
“This will simply be done through not only examination results but also through the relevance of subjects in each secondary so as to ascertain if they meet global development and education demands. This will further ensure that concerns over the Botswana Examination Council grading system and associated worries will be addresses at this level and hence reducing conflict of interest which often unnecessarily result in blame shifting and blame apportioning.
Furthermore this will inform the relevancy of upgrading the syllabus on regular basis align it with global emerging trends. We can’t be holding unto a 1966 syllabus model in the year 2016 and yet expect 2016 developmental relevance.”
BOPEU is of the view that the issue of compensating the poor performance of our children with the constant and continued lowering of the uptake thresh holds does not serve as a solution to an ailing education system. It stated that what is important rather is to build efficiencies within the management and operational systems of concerned entities and ensure that sustainable solutions take course. In addition they opine that automatic promotion of students will surely not be necessary when the right structuring, the right attitude, the right energy is exerted or ignited within our systems.
“Independent Ministries will have the prerogative to do all it takes to remain relevant and competitive where they are held to account. With proper Monitoring systems in place we see a leap from the current mediocrity to an excellent performing system. Within this system the nation should not be ashamed to repeat students who fail giving them sufficient chances to mature and perform better before being progressed.”
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.