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Govt moves to outsource private schools examination

Private Schools Association to make millions from the deal

Government intends to outsource the examination of private candidates in the near future as a way of reducing the workload on government at the same time empowering those running private institutions.

The move which could spell millions of Pula for the private sector has seen  government request the Botswana Association of Private Schools to look into the possibility of conducting , managing and overseeing national examinations for private candidates and private schools.

Indications are that juggling between the public and private schools has become not only cumbersome but over-stretching for the government. Officials are confident that the private sector is in a position to conduct clean examinations of it is well resourced.

The government is said to be convinced that the deal can relieve the the Botswana Examinations Council (BEC) of the heavy work load that it usually endures during national examinations. There were 12,198 (32.62%) private candidates in the last examinations compared to 25,186 (67.37%) candidates from government and government-aided schools.

The private candidates’ category included 6,988 (18.69%) Back-to-School candidates, 2,278 (6.09%) individual private candidates and 2,932 (7.84%) candidates from privately owned schools.

In an interview with this publication, the Botswana Association of Private Schools Chairman, Steven Sorinyana, confirmed that they are discussing the issue with BEC but he could not share the details of the discussion. WeekendPost had wanted to understand the costing of the undertaking, Sorinyane could only say, “we are yet to finalise on that”.  

Sorinyana said they will among other things be required to identify centres where the examinations will be conducted. One of the services offered by BEC is to assist candidates who want to upgrade their previous examination results and such candidates can register directly with BEC, where upon they will be treated as private candidates.

BEC has been struggling to secure examination centres for private candidates. More often than not the examination body requested for space in churches, community halls and other buidings to accomodate private candidates.  

The  move to empower private schools to manage their own exams has however raised a series of questions over the integrity and security of examinations papers.

There have been complaints of leaked and stolen papers in the past and some observers have cast doubt on the decision while some have applauded it.

Sorinyana was certain that private schools can deliver. However, he rushed to point out that government should improve the way it works with the private sector. He said most private schools have been sidelined in Botswana’s education system hence the poor quality of education and half-baked graduates.

“Today as I speak to you private school are closing down in high numbers because the government has taken a decision to admit almost everybody.This lowers the standards and promotes mediocrity,” he said.

He said the government should engage them more on education issues. He further added that they have however resolved to request a meeting with the Minister of Education and Skills Development, Dr Unity Dow.

The need to meet Minister Dow follows failed attempts by the Association to meet the immediate past Minister, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi and former Vice-President, Dr Ponatshego Kedikilwe who did not take heed of the Association’s letters over a variety of issues affecting them.

The letters raised issues such as shortage of teachers in private schools as a result of the Ministry’s refusal to renew work permits for foreign nationals. The Association is not dismissive of government’s localisation policy but differs with government on approach. It prefers that it be done in a fair, transparent and balanced manner.

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Fighting vulture poisoning in KAZA region.

3rd February 2023
As a response to avert vulture poisoning currently going on in Botswana and KAZA region, Birdlife Botswana has collaborated with three other partners (BirdWatch Zambia, BirdLife International & Birdlife Zimbabwe) to tackle wildlife poisoning which by extension negatively affect vulture populations.

The Director of Birdlife Botswana, Motshereganyi Virat Kootshositse has revealed in an interview that the project which is funded by European Union’s main goal is to reduce poisoning related vultures’ death and consequently other wildlife species death within the KAZA region.

He highlighted that Chobe district in Botswana has been selected as a pilot site as it has experienced rampant incidents of vulture poisoning for the past few months. In August this year at least 50 endangered white backed vultures were reported dead at Chobe National Park, Botswana after feeding on a buffalo carcass laced with poison.  In November this year again 43 white backed vultures were found dead and two alive after feeding on a zebra suspected to have poisoned.  Other selected pilots’ sites are Kafue in Zambia and Hwange in Zimbabwe.

Kootshositse further explained they have established a national and regional Wildlife Poisoning Committee. He added that as for the national committee they have engaged various departments such as Crop Productions, Agro Chemicals, Department of Veterinary Services, Department of Wildlife and National Parks and other NGOs such as Raptors Botswana to come together and find a long-lasting solution to address wildlife poisoning in Botswana. ‘Let’s have a strategy or a plan together to tackle wildlife poisoning,’ he stated

He also decried that there is gap in the availability of data about vulture poisoning or wildlife in general. ‘If we have a central point for data, it will help in terms of reporting and advocacy’, he stated

He added that the regional committee comprises of law enforcement officers such as BDF and Botswana police, village leadership such as Village Development Committee and Kgosi. ‘We need to join hand together and protect the wildlife we have as this will increase our profile for conservation and this alone enhances our visitation and boost our local economy,’ he noted

Kootshositse noted that Birdlife together with DWNP also addressed series of meeting in some villages in the Chobe region recently. The purpose of kgotla meetings was to raise awareness on the conservation and protection of vultures in Chobe West communities.

‘After realizing that vulture poisoning in the Chobe areas become frequent, we realise that we need to do something about it.  ‘We did a public awareness by addressing several kgotla meetings in some villages in the Chobe west,’ he stated

He noted that next year they are going to have another round of consultations around the Chobe areas and the approach is to engage the community into planning process. ‘Residents should be part of the plan of actions and we are working with farmers committee in the areas to address vulture poisoning in the area, ‘he added

He added that they have found out that some common reasons for poisoning wildlife are farmers targeting predators such as lions in retaliation to killing of their livestock. Another common incident cross border poaching in the Chobe area as poachers will kills an elephant and poison its carcass targeting vultures because of their aerial circling alerting authorities about poaching activities.

Kootshositse noted that in the last cases it was disheartening the incidents occurred three months apart. He added that for the first time they found that some of the body parts of some vultures were missing. He added harvesting of body parts of vultures is not a common practice in Botswana, although it is used in some parts of Africa. ‘We suspect that someone took advantage of the availability of carcasses and started harvesting their body parts,’

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Giant in the making: Everton Mlalazi

3rd February 2023

The music industry is at a point where artists are jostling for space because there are so many aspirants trying to get their big break, thus creating stiff competition.

In the music business it’s about talent and positioning. You need to be at the right place at the right time with the right people around you to propel you forward.
Against all odds, Everton Mlalazi has managed to takeover the gospel scene effortlessly.
To him, it’s more than just a breakthrough to stardom, but a passion as well as mission directly appointed by the Lord.

Within a short space of 2 years after having decided to persue a solo career, Mlalazi has already made it into international music scene, with his music receiving considerable play on several gospel television and radio stations in Botswana including other regional stations like Trace Africa, One Gospel, Metro FM in South Africa, Hope FM in Kenya and literally all broadcast stations in Zimbabwe.

It doesn’t only stop there, as the musician has already been nominated 2 times and 2 awards which are Bulawayo Arts Awards (BAA) best Male artists 2022, StarFM listerners Choice Award, Best Newcomer 2021 and ZIMA Best Contemporary Gospel 2022, MLA awards Best Male artist & Best Gospel Artist 2022.

Everton’s inspiration stems from his ultimate passion and desire to lead people into Godly ways and it seems it’s only getting started.
The man is a gospel artist to put on your radar.

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African countries call on WHO to increase funding

2nd February 2023

Minister of Health Dr Edwin Dikoloti says Africa member states call on World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure equitable resource allocation for 2024-2025. Dr Dikoloti was speaking this week at the WHO Executive Board Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

He said countries agreed that there is need to address the budget and funding imbalances by increasing the programme budget share of countries and regions to 75% for the next year.

“The proposed budget for 2024-2025 marks an important milestone as it is the first in Programme Budget in which country offices will be allocated more than half of the total budget for the biennium. We highly welcome this approach which will enable the organization to deliver on its mandate while fulfilling the expectations for transparency, efficiency and accountability.”

The Botswana Health Minister commended member states on the extension of the General Programme of Work (GPD 13) and the Secretariat work to monitor the progress towards the triple billion targets, and the health-related SDGs.

“We welcome the Director’s general proposed five priorities which have crystalized into the “five Ps” that are aligned with the GPW 13 extension. Impact can only be achieved through close coordination with, and support to national health authorities. As such, the strengthening of country offices is instrumental, with particular focus on strengthening national health systems and on promoting more equitable access to health services.”

According to Dr Dikoloti, the majority of countries with UHC index that is below the global median are in the WHO Africa region. “For that, we call on the WHO to enhance capacity at the regional and national levels in order to accelerate progress. Currently, the regional office needs both technical and financial support in order to effectively address and support country needs.”

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