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Gov’t to re-look at basic education funding

Minister of Education and Skills Development Dr Unity Dow has conceded that government is underfunding basic education hence a contributing factor to the country’s low enrolment in tertiary education.  

Dow revealed this at the Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) dinner on Thursday in which she was bidding farewell to the organisation’s board. Dr Dow said time has come for government to re-look into how it funds education.  “We are spending little on basic education and there is need to re-look into this because without it [basic education] we will not have the quantity that we need for tertiary education,” she said.  

While acknowledging the new board led by Mr Batho Molomo, Dow challenged them to deliberate over the matter of basic education funding with the view of advising government.

Over the past six years, Botswana’s education system has been plunged into various crises as a result of stand –off between government and the unions. As a result the pupil’s results at levels, primary and secondary have been in a declining state. Poor performance in the Botswana General Certificate for Secondary Education (BGCSE) means that only a few qualify to study for tertiary education. “About 9000 students only qualified for tertiary education this year, and the rest were left in the lurch,” said Dow.

The minister pointed out that it is evident that the current situation can only be turned around by increasing funding for basic education to enhance the performance of pupils and meet the demand for tertiary education enrolment.

Ministry of Education and Skills Development have continued to receive the lion share in national budget. For the 2015/16 financial year, Ministry of Education was awarded P10.31 billion or 28.1 per cent of the budget. Besides staff salaries and emoluments the largest provision is goes to funding student bursaries for tertiary level studies at P2.25 billion.

Dow also said the time has arrived for Botswana’s education system to produce products that can excel in different sectors of the economy and change the country’s fortunes from being buyers and sellers to an economy of manufacturers.

Earlier this year MoESD launched a five-year strategic plan known as Education and Training Sector Strategic Plan (ETSSP 2015-2020) which is intended transform Botswana from overdependence on resources to a knowledge-based society able to sustain its development.

Dow thanked the inaugural HRDC board as he noted that he understand that it was not easy being referred to as interim board because they had limited authority to do certain things. “There were serious and complicated things to deal with during your tenure,” she said.

The former High Court judge told the new board that there is an ill-conceived idea that the role of HRDC is to refuse to issue licence to organisations which want to offer tertiary education. “It is wrong, your job is not to refuse with licenses, and instead you should facilitate the issuance of licenses,” she said.

Dow said it is the role of the HRDC to ensure that equal access to education by every citizen in the country.

Bidding the HRDC farewell, the former interim board Chairperson Dr Kegalalele Gasennelwe implored the new board to run their race and ensure that Botswana becomes a model of education in Africa.

Gasennelwe said it is not going to be easy but it was important for the board to show up and make their contribution to the country’s education system. “It is not going to be easy, but you should run your race and earn the crown,” she said.

The newly appointed board comprises of; Batho Molomo as the Chairperson, Moggie Mbaakanyi, former Assistant Minister of Education as vice chairperson, founding CEDA CEO Dr Thapelo Matsheka, Seilaneng Godisang, Dr Grace Kgakge-Tabengwa, Sebetlela Sebetlela, Dr Raphael Dingalo, Serty Leburu, Michelle Adelman, Helen Chilisa, Ruth Maphorisa, Kebosweditse Ntebela, Kelapile Ndobano and HRDC Acting CEO Dr Patrick Molutsi as ex-officio member.

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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
Khato-civil

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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