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.”
In a classic and shocking case of disgrace and dishonour to this country, the law enforcement agencies are currently struggling to cover up a damaging and humiliating scandal of having conspired to forge the signature of a Palapye Chief Magistrate, Rebecca Motsamai in an unlawful acquisition of the much-publicised 2019 warrant of arrest against Isaac Kgosi, the former director of the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS).
The cloak-and-dagger arrest was led by the DIS director, Brigadier Peter Magosi supported by the Botswana Police, Botswana Defence Force (BDF), with the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) which accused Kgosi of tax evasion, in the backseat.
Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) constituent members are struggling to reach an agreement over the allocation of wards for the imminent ward by-elections across the country.
Despite a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) and Alliance for Progressives (AP) are said to be active, but the nitty-gritties are far from being settled.
The eight bye-elections will be a precursor of a somewhat delayed finalisation of the brittle MoU. The three parties want to draw a plan on how and who will contest in each of the available wards.
This publication has gathered that the negotiations will not be a run off the mill because there is already an impasse between the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) which is a UDC constituent and AP (currently negotiating to join umbrella).
The by-elections joint committee met last week at Cresta President Hotel in a bid to finalise allocation but nothing tangible came out of the gathering, sources say.
The cause of the stalemate according to those close to events, is the Metsimotlhabe Ward which the two parties have set their eyes on.
In 2019, he ward was won by Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) Andrew Sebobi who unfortunately died in a tragic accident in February last year.
Sebobi had convincingly won by 1 109 votes in the last elections; and was trailed by Sephuthi Thelo of the UDC trailed him with 631 votes; while Alliance for Progressives’ Innocent Moamogwe got 371 votes.
Thelo is a BCP candidate and as per UDC norm, incumbency prevails meaning that the BCP will contest since they were runners up. On the other hand, AP has also raised its hand for the same.
“AP asked for it on the basis that they have a good candidate but BCP did not agree to that request also arguing they have a better contestant,” one UDC member confided to this publication.
Notwithstanding Metsimotlhabe Ward squabble, it is said the by-election talks are almost a done deal, with Botswana National Front (BNF) tipped to take Boseja South ward in Mochudi East constituency. Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) will be awarded Tamasane Ward in Lerala/Maunatlala constituency, sources say.
“But the agreement has to be closed by National Executive Committee (NEC),” emphasized the informant.
The NEC is said to have been cautioned not to back the wrong horse but rather rate with reason and facts.
UDC President, Duma Boko has told this publication that, “allocation is complete with two wards already awarded but with only one yet to be finalized,” he could not dwell into much details as to which party got what and the reasons for the delay in finalisation.
Chairperson of the by-elections committee, Dr. Phenyo Butale responded to this publication regarding the matter: “As AP we contested and as you may be aware we signed the MoU with UDC and BPF to collaborate on bye-elections. The opposition candidate for all bye-elections will be agreed by these parties and that process is still ongoing,” he said when asked if AP is interested on the ward and how far with the talks on bye-elections.
Butale, a former Gaborone Central Member of Parliament, who is also AP Secretary General continued to say, “As the chairperson of the bye-elections committee we are still seized with that matter. We should also do some consultations with the local structures. Once the process is complete we will issue a notice for now we cannot talk about the other two while the other is still pending the other one”.
Butale further clarified: “There is no such thing as AP and BCP not in agreement. It is an issue of signatories discussing and determining the opposition candidates across the three wards.”
Apart from the three wards, there are five more council wards that UDC is yet to allocate to cooperating partners.
FROM PALAPYE MEET: BPP CAUTION NEC MEMBERS
With the UDC cheerful from last weekend’s meeting in Palapye, the meeting however was very tense on the side of both BCP and BNF, with only BPP flexing its muscle and even lashing out.
BCP going into the meeting, had promised to ask difficult questions to the UDC NEC.
BCP VP and also acting Secretary General, Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, presented their qualms which were addressed by UDC Chairperson Motlatsi Molapisi, informants say.
It is said Molapisi is fed up and concerned by some UDC members especially those in the NEC who ‘wash party’s dirty linen in public’.
Insiders say the veteran politician cautioned the NEC members that they “will not expel any party but individuals who tarnish the image of the UDC.”
It is not the first time BPP play a paternalistic role as it once expressed its discontent with BCP in 2020, saying it should never wash UDC linen in public.
At first it is said, BPP, the oldest political formation in Botswana, claims disappointment on BCP stance that UDC should be democratised especially by sharing their stand with the media. Again, BPP was not happy with BCP leader Dumelang Saleshando’s decision to air his personal views on social media regarding the merger of UDC party.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) Commissioner, Keabetswe Makgophe, has of late been dousing raging fires from various quarters of society following the infiltration of the police fingerprint system by the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS), WeekendPost has learnt.
Fresh information gleaned from a number of impeccable sources, points to a pitiable working relationship between the two state organs. Cause of concern is the DIS continuous big brother role to an extent that it is now interfering with other institutions’ established mandates.
BPS which works closely with the DIS has been left exasperated by the works of the institution formed in 2008. It is said, the DIS through its Information Technology (IT) experts in collusion with some at BPS forensics department managed to infiltrate the Fingerprint system.
The infiltration, according to those in the know, was for the DIS to “teach a lesson” to some who are on their radar. It is said the DIS is playing and fighting dirty to win the fights they have lost before.
By managing to hack the police finger print system, a number of renowned businessmen and other politically exposed persons found their fingers in the system. What surprised the victims is the fact that they have never been charged of any wrongdoing by the police and they were left reeling in shock to learn that their fingers are on the data-base of criminals.
In fact, some of those who their fingerprints were falsely included in the records of those on the wrong side of law learnt later when other errands demanded their fingerprints.
“We learnt later when we had to submit and buy some documents and we were very shocked,” one politician who is also a businessman confided to this publication this week.
“We then learn that there are some fabricated criminality recorded for us, as to when did we commit those remained secret to the police, but then we had to engage our lawyers on the matter and that is when we were cleared,” said the politician-cum- tenderpreneur.
The lawyers have confirmed engaging the police and that the matters were settled in a gentlemen’s agreement and concluded.
All these happened behind the scenes with the police top brass oblivious only to be confronted by the irked lot, police sources also add. The victimized group who most of them have been fighting lengthy battles with the DIS read malice and did not blink when it was revealed that these were done by the DIS.
“And it was clear that they (DIS) are the ones in this dirty war which we don’t understand. Remember when we sue, it will be the Police at the courts not the DIS and that is why we agreed to a ceasefire more so they also requested that be kept under carpet,” said the victim.
Nonetheless, the Police through its spokesperson Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, briefly said: “we do not have any system that has been hacked.” On the other hand DIS mouthpiece Edward Robert was not in office this week to comment on the matter.
Reports however say DIS boss, Peter Magosi, who most of the victims accuse of the job, is said to have met his police counterpart Makgophe to put the matter to bed.
COVID-19 RAVAGES POLICE
As frontline workers, Police have not escaped the wrath of Covid-19. Already the numbers of those infected has reached the highest of high and they suggest that they be priorities on vaccine rollout.
“Our job is complicated, firstly we arrest including those who are non-compliant to Covid protocols and we go to accidents and many more. These put us at risk and it seems our superiors are not bothered,” said one police officer this week.
The cops further complain about that working spaces are small, as such expose them to contact the virus.
“Some tests positive and go for quarantine while the rest of the unit will be left without even test carried out. If at all the bosses are serious all the police officers should every now and then be subjected to testing or else we will be no more because of the virus,” added another officer based in Gaborone.
The government has since placed teachers on the priority list for the vaccines, it remains to be seen whether the police, who also man road blocks, will be considered.
“But our bosses should convince the country leadership about this, if not then we are doomed,” concluded a more senior officer.