As the nation is still trying to find answers as to why there is a decline in student performances in the last decade, a researcher with the Vision 2016 Council, Dr Pelotshweu Moepeng has indicated that there is a “statistical association” between the increase of male teachers in primary schools and the declining performance levels.
While he pointed out that there was need to do further research to establish the link or coincidence, he did indicate that it was a matter worth noting. He said the nation was concerned with the decline in students’ performances, but there is need for a thorough research on pointers linking to the deplorable performances in schools.
According to Moepeng, there is growing statistical evidence on poor performance and a number of variables associated with the education sector. His analysis using the response measure of pass rate was delivered at the Vision 2016 Conference held under the theme: The Journey So Far: In Pursuit of Prosperity For All by 2016. The country will be celebrating its 50th anniversary next year when the curtains will be falling on a roadmap marked in 1996 by former President Sir Ketumile Masire.
“Using several independent variables an analysis was made to examine any predictors of the declining pass rate. The number of schools, and the number of untrained female teachers are also significantly associated with the declining pass rate,” said the former Botswana Institute of Development Policy Analysis (BIDPA) researcher, now with the Vision Council, Moepeng.
He said such findings may suggest a declining quality of outcome as the number of students increase and untrained staff is used to keep up staffing of larger pupil numbers. “We need more detailed study of differences between results in different primary schools and reasons for these,” he said.
Sharing the validity of the causal link, Moepeng pointed out that the increase in number of male teachers was at 95 percent confidence level. This, he explained it shows that there is greater link between decline in results and increase in the number of male teachers.
The confidence level was high for untrained teachers, at 99 percent. He said the statistics link the increase of untrained male and female teachers to the drop in performance of students. The Ministry of Education and Skills Development has occasionally roped in temporary teachers, most without relevant qualifications to teach students while vacancies are not yet filled by trained teachers.
Moepeng further shared that the gender balance for teachers was largely female until 1999. The number of male teachers was less than 100 in 1975 while there were over 250 female teachers. In 1997 the number of male teachers jumped to almost 350 while that of females was just over 600.
In 1999, the number of female teachers dropped to just below 600, and the number of male teachers increased to over 450, this is the same period that the student pass rates started declining. The desktop research has also directly linked underperforming classes to young male teachers.
Moepeng said policies requiring attention to quality could become a focus such as supporting training on the job or mentoring of staff on continuous basis. He added that defining performance measures that are required as a time series which should be simple but reflective of situations in primary through to tertiary education; and also reflect the need for home grown skills and particularly in the tertiary sector. He said they should also reflect the capacity for providing skills and particularly in the tertiary sector.
He cited that the case where there is significant statistical association between increased school numbers and declining quality of education needs further examination. “Some factors might include school location, quality of school heads, equipment in schools, and roles of teachers such as where they spend their time most – in workshops or classrooms, in industrial action or in classrooms?”
Moepeng said there is need to undertake a more detailed study of differences between results in different primary schools and establish the reasons for the disparities. He said there is need to provide extra financial assistance to schools in disadvantaged areas to enable them to obtain adequate learning material. â€¨â€¨
He gave the example that schools could be provided with centrally prepared online or DVD material for use by teachers in areas that are disadvantaged. He also called on the civil society to be involved to address the problem of out of school children. He indicated that government alone cannot solve the challenge of out of school children, “it is more complex, NGOs could help,” he said.
According to Moepeng, by 2002 girls made up over half the enrollments in both primary and secondary schools. He indicated that progression of students through education over time was at its lowest in 1998 and at its peak in the years between 2006 and 2009, but declined and steadied between 2009 and 2012.
According to the researcher, the pass rates for standard seven in primary schools was 72 percent in 1984, rising to 82 percent in 1999 and dropping to 65 percent in 2012. He shared that the decline was consistent across all levels of education.
Mowana Copper Mine in Dukwi will finally pay its former employees a total amount of P23, 789, 984.00 end of this month. For over three years Mowana Copper Mine has been under judicial management. Updating members, Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) Executive Secretary Kitso Phiri this week said the High Court issued an order for the implementation of the compromise scheme of December 9, 2021 and this was to be done within 30 days after court order.
“Therefore payment of benefits under the scheme including those owed to Messina Copper Botswana employees should be effected sometime in January latest end of January 2022,” Kitso said. Kitso also explained that cash settlement will be 30 percent of the total Messina Copper Botswana estate and negotiated estate is $3,233,000 (about P35, 563,000).
Messina Copper was placed under liquidation and was thereafter acquired by Leboam Holdings to operate Mowana Mine. Leboam Holdings struck a deal with the Messina Copper’s liquidator who became a shareholder of Leboam Holdings. Leboam Holdings could not service its debts and its creditors placed it under provisional judicial management on December 18, 2018 and in judicial management on February 28, 2019.
A new company Max Power expressed interest to acquire the mining operations. It offered to take over the Mowana Mine from Leboam Holdings, however, the company had to pay the debts of Leboam including monies owed to Messina Copper, being employees benefits and other debts owed to other creditors.
The monies, were agreed to be paid through a scheme of compromise proposed by Max Power, being a negotiated payment schedule, which was subject to the financial ability of the new owners. “On December 9, 2021, Messina Copper liquidator, called a meeting of creditors, which the BMWU on behalf of its members (former Messina Copper employees) attended, to seek mandate from creditors to proceed with a proposed settlement for Messina Copper on the scheme of compromise. It is important to note that employee benefits are regarded as preferential credit, meaning once a scheme is approved they are paid first.”
A savingram the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development sent to Town Clerks and Council Secretaries explaining why councilors across the country should not have access to their terminal benefits before end of their term has been revealed.
The contents of the savingram came out in the wake of a war of words between counselors and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development. The councilors through the Botswana Association of Local Authorities (BALA) accuse the Ministry of refusing to allow them to have access to their terminal benefits before end of their term.
This has since been denied by the Ministry. In the savingram to town councils and council secretaries across the country, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development Molefi Keaja states that, “Kindly be advised that the terminal benefits budget is made during the final year of term of office for Honorable Councilors.” Keaja reminded town clerks and council secretaries that, “The nominal budget Councils make each and every financial year is to cater for events where a Councilor’s term of office ends before the statutory time due to death, resignation or any other reason.”
The savingram also goes into detail about why the government had in the past allowed councilors to have access to their terminal benefits before the end of their term. “Regarding the special dispensation made in the 2014-2019, it should be noted that the advance was granted because at that time there was an approved budget for terminal benefits during the financial year,” explained Keaja. He added that, “Town Clerks/Council Secretaries made discretions depending on the liquidity position of Councils which attracted a lot of audit queries.”
Keaja also revealed that councils across the country were struggling financially and therefore if they were to grant councilors access to their terminal benefits, this could leave their in a dire financial situation. Given the fact that Local Authorities currently have cash flow problems and budgetary constraints, it is not advisable to grant terminal benefits advance as it would only serve to compound the liquidity problems of councils.
It is understood that the Ministry was inundated with calls from some Councils as they sought clarification regarding access to their terminal benefits. The Ministry fears that should councils pay out the terminal benefits this would affect their coffers as the government spends a lot on councilors salaries.
Reports show that apart from elected councilors, the government spends at least P6, 577, 746, 00 on nominated councilors across the country as their monthly salaries. Former Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Botlogile Tshireletso once told Parliament that in total there are 113 nominated councilors and their salaries per a year add up to P78, 933,16.00. She added that their projected gratuity is P9, 866,646.00.
A surge in consumer spending is expected to be a key driver of Botswana’s economic recovery, according to recent projections by Fitch Solutions. Fitch Solutions said it forecasts household spending in Botswana to grow by a real rate of 5.9% in 2022.
The bullish Fitch Solutions noted that “This is a considerable deceleration from 9.4% growth estimated in 2021, it comes mainly from the base effects of the contraction of 2.5% recorded in 2020,” adding that, “We project total household spending (in real terms) to reach BWP59.9bn (USD8.8bn) in 2022, increasing from BWP56.5bn (USD8.3bn) in 2021.” According to Fitch Solutions, this is higher than the pre-Covid-19 total household spending (in real terms) of P53.0 billion (USD7.8bn) in 2019 and it indicates a full recovery in consumer spending.
“We forecast real household spending to grow by 5.9% in 2022, decelerating from the estimated growth of 9.4% in 2021. We note that the Covid-19 pandemic and the related restrictions on economic activity resulted in real household spending contracting by 2.5% in 2020, creating a lower base for spending to grow from in 2021 and 2022,” Fitch Solutions says.
Total household spending (in real terms), the agency says, will increase in 2022 when compared to 2021. In 2021 and 2022, total household spending (in real terms) will be above the pre-Covid-19 levels in 2019, indicating a full recovery in consumer spending, says Fitch Solutions. It says as of December 6 2021 (latest data available), 38.4% of people in Botswana have received at least one vaccine dose, while this is relatively low it is higher than Africa average of 11.3%.
“The emergence of new Covid-19 variants such as Omicron, which was first detected in the country in November 2021, poses a downside risk to our outlook for consumer spending, particularly as a large proportion of the country’s population is unvaccinated and this could result in stricter measures being implemented once again,” says Fitch Solutions.
Growth will ease in 2022, Fitch Solution says. “Our forecast for an improvement in consumer spending in Botswana in 2022 is in line with our Country Risk team’s forecast that the economy will grow by a real rate of 5.3% over 2022, from an estimated 12.5% growth in 2021 as the low base effects from 2020 dissipate,” it says.
Fitch Solutions notes that “Our Country Risk team expects private consumption to be the main driver of Botswana’s economic growth in 2022, as disposable incomes and the labour market continue to recover from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.” It says Botswana’s tourism sector has been negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and the related travel restrictions.
According to Fitch Solutions, “The emergence of the Omicron variant, which was first detected in November 2021, has resulted in travel bans being implemented on Southern African countries such as South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Eswatini. This will further delay the recovery of Botswana’s tourism sector in 2021 and early 2022.” Fitch Solutions, therefore, forecasts Botswana’s tourist arrivals to grow by 81.2% in 2022, from an estimated contraction of 40.3% in 2021.
It notes that the 72.4% contraction in 2020 has created a low base for tourist arrivals to grow from. “The rollout of vaccines in South Africa and its key source markets will aid the recovery of the tourism sector over the coming months and this bodes well for the employment and incomes of people employed in the hospitality industry, particularly restaurants and hotels as well as recreation and culture businesses,” the report says.
Fitch Solutions further notes that with economies reopening, consumers are demanding products that they had little access to over the previous year. However, manufacturers are facing several problems. It says supply chain issues and bottlenecks are resulting in consumer goods shortages, feeding through into supply-side inflation. Fitch Solutions believes the global semiconductor shortage will continue into 2022, putting the pressure on the supply of several consumer goods.
It says the spread of the Delta variant is upending factory production in Asia, disrupting shipping and posing more shocks to the world economy. Similarly, manufacturers are facing shortages of key components and higher raw materials costs, the report says adding that while this is somewhat restricted to consumer goods, there is a high risk that this feeds through into more consumer services over the 2022 year.
“Our global view for a notable recovery in consumer spending relies on the ability of authorities to vaccinate a large enough proportion of their populations and thereby experience a notable drop in Covid-19 infections and a decline in hospitalisation rates,” says Fitch Solutions. Both these factors, it says, will lead to governments gradually lifting restrictions, which will boost consumer confidence and retail sales.
“As of December 6 2021, 38.4% of people in Botswana have received at least one vaccine dose. While this is low, it is higher than the Africa average of 11.3%. The vaccines being administered in Botswana include Pfizer-BioNTech, Sinovac and Johnson & Johnson. We believe that a successful vaccine rollout will aid the country’s consumer spending recovery,” says Fitch Solutions. Therefore, the agency says, “Our forecasts account for risks that are highly likely to play out in 2022, including the easing of government support. However, if other risks start to play out, this may lead to forecast revisions.”