Assistant Minister of Education and Skills Development, Mr Moiseraele Goya has said the decline of students’ performance in terms of quality scores continues to be a challenge that needs more interventions.
Assistant Minister Goya said there is a need to focus towards a system that will provide students with non-cognitive skills as well as education for social cohesion, global competitiveness, creativity and social and emotional developments.
He said focus on access and attainment has generally overshadowed the important factors such as actual content of curricula and the real world application of what is learned in school and teacher training.
Assistant Minister Goya also said in order to address the 21st century challenges, there is need to consider a continual review, support curriculum developers in designing a holistic and relevant curricula that includes transformative educational and teaching approaches.
He indicated that strategies of improving the entire education system from pre-school to tertiary level and ensuring that it is responsive to the demands of labor market need to be developed.
Moreover, he said school administrators should be guided to develop a conducive learning environment that serves as models of sustainability and supports experimental education as well as being instructional leaders.
Goya further said enhancing quality education is a chief cornerstone of sustainable development goals.
“Quality education does not only make people more employable but it also gives them skills and values to address the tension between human development and planetary boundaries,” he said.
Meanwhile the Assistant Minister Goya also noted that though more efforts to keep improving the education standards, the tremendous achievements made towards education accessibility cannot be underestimated.
He said Botswana as a young nation with only fifty years of independence has made positive strides as Batswana youth have seen an opportunity to access higher education as well as technical and vocational education.
A representative from European Union Katrin Hagemann noted that the recently introduced Education and Training Sector Strategic Plan (ETSSP) is a strategy Botswana needs to fully under take in order to position itself as a globally leading education provider.
She said the ETSSP does not only encompass the Ministry of Education and Skills Development only but also its parastatals well as ministries concerned in educational aspects.
Hagemann noted that the concept of decentralization within the strategy is critical as it lays out how the Ministry should be transformed.
“Key operational roles of the coordinator of sub-sector, Planning, funding and quality assurance are delegated to the parastatal. This leaves the Ministry structure lean and flat with expertise to focus on policy implementation sector monitoring and evaluation,” he said.
Curriculum Advisor, Professor Jaap Kuiper expressed that most of Sub-Saharan African countries’ education system have a tendency to undervalue Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET).He said they have insufficient relevance to young people’s personal and nation’s economic needs.
Professor Kuiper said generally Education must be responsive to the youth’s diverse needs, interest and talents as well as the country’s diverse social, economic and cultural needs.
He also noted that general education needs to offer appropriate academic pathways that develop knowledge, skills and competency.
Government is currently sitting on 4 400 vacant posts that remain unfilled in the civil service. This is notwithstanding the high unemployment rate in Botswana which has been exacerbated by the recent outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
Just before the burst of COVID-19, official data released by Statistics Botswana in January 2020, indicate that unemployment in Botswana has increased from 17.6 percent three years ago to 20.7 percent. “Unemployment rate went up by 3.1 percentage between the two periods, from 17.6 to 20.7 percent,” statistics point out.
Leading commercial bank, First National Bank Botswana (FNBB), expects the central bank to sharpen its monetary policy knife and cut the Bank Rate twice in the last quarter of 2020.
The bank expects a 25 basis point (bps) in the beginning of the last quarter, which is next month, and another shed by the same bps in December, making a total of 50 bps cut in the last quarter. According to the bank’s researchers, the central bank is now holding on to 4.25 percent for the time being pending for more informed data on the economic climate.
An audit of the accounts and records for the supply of food rations to the institutions in the Northern Region for the financial year-ended 31 March 2019 was carried out. According to Auditor General’s report and observations, there are weaknesses and shortcomings that were somehow addressed to the Accounting Officer for comments.
Auditor General, Pulane Letebele indicated on the report that, across all depots in the region that there had been instances where food items were short for periods ranging from 1 to 7 months in the institutions for a variety of reasons, including absence of regular contracts and supplier failures. The success of this programme is dependent on regular and reliable availability of the supplies to achieve its objective, the report said.
There would be instances where food items were returned from the feeding centers to the depots for reasons of spoilage or any other cause. In these cases, instances had been noted where these returns were not supported by any documentation, which could lead to these items being lost without trace.
The report further stressed that large quantities of various food items valued at over P772 thousand from different depots were damaged by rodents, and written off.Included in the write off were 13 538 (340ml) cartons of milk valued at P75 745. In this connection, the Auditor General says it is important that the warehouses be maintained to a standard where they would not be infested by rodents and other pests.
Still in the Northern region, the report noted that there is an outstanding matter relating to the supply of stewed steak (283×3.1kg cans) to the Maun depot which was allegedly defective. The steak had been supplied by Botswana Meat Commission to the depot in November 2016.
In March 2017 part of the consignment was reported to the supplier as defective, and was to be replaced. Even as there was no agreement reached between the parties regarding replacement, in 51 October 2018 the items in question were disposed of by destruction. This disposal represented a loss as the whole consignment had been paid for, according to the report.
“In my view, the loss resulted directly from failure by the depot managers to deal with the matter immediately upon receipt of the consignment and detection of the defects. Audit inspections during visits to Selibe Phikwe, Maun, Shakawe, Ghanzi and Francistown depots had raised a number of observations on points of detail related to the maintenance of records, reconciliations of stocks and related matters, which I drew to the attention of the Accounting Officer for comments,” Letebele said in her report.
In the Southern region, a scrutiny of the records for the control of stocks of food items in the Southern Region had indicated intermittent shortages of the various items, principally Tsabana, Malutu, Sunflower Oil and Milk which was mainly due to absence of subsisting contracts for the supply of these items.
“The contract for the supply of Tsabana to all depots expired in September 2018 and was not replaced by a substantive contract. The supplier contracts for these stocks should be so managed that the expiry of one contract is immediately followed by the commencement of the next.”
Suppliers who had been contracted to supply foodstuffs had failed to do so and no timely action had been taken to redress the situation to ensure continuity of supply of the food items, the report noted.
In one case, the report highlighted that the supplier was to manufacture and supply 1 136 metric tonnes of Malutu for a 4-months period from March 2019 to June 2019, but had been unable to honour the obligation. The situation was relieved by inter-depot transfers, at additional cost in transportation and subsistence expenses.
In another case, the contract was for the supply of Sunflower Oil to Mabutsane, where the supplier had also failed to deliver. Examination of the Molepolole depot Food Issues Register had indicated a number of instances where food items consigned to the various feeding centres had been returned for a variety of reasons, including food item available; no storage space; and in other cases the whole consignments were returned, and reasons not stated.
This is an indication of lack of proper management and monitoring of the affairs of the depot, which could result in losses from frequent movements of the food items concerned.The maintenance of accounting records in the region, typically in Letlhakeng, Tsabong, and Mabutsane was less than satisfactory, according to Auditor General’s report.
In these depots a number of instances had been noted where receipts and issues had not been recorded over long periods, resulting in incorrect balances reflected in the accounting records. This is a serious weakness which could lead to or result in losses without trace or detection, and is a contravention of Supplies Regulations and Procedures, Letebele said.
Similarly, consignments of a total of 892 bags of Malutu and 3 bags of beans from Tsabong depot to different feeding centres had not been received in those centres, and are considered lost. These are also not reflected in the Statement of Losses in the Annual Statements of Accounts for the same periods.