Botswana Teachers Union (BTU) has expressed optimism that the new Minister of Education and Skills Development, Dr Unity Dow will take the troublesome ministry to new heights despite the fact that her predecessors endured a niggling tenure with the unions.
BTU Secretary General, Ibo Kenosi revealed that, the teacher unions had a meeting with Dow where they outlined the concerns facing the teaching sector and she seemed engrossed in resolving some of the issues.
“The minister is positive about the issues that we relayed to her and has proposed for a meeting in the near future to discuss matters affecting the teaching fraternity in detail. We are hopeful she will be able to resolve these issues- she is an intelligent person- at least based on her professional background and her achievements,” he said.
Kenosi also stated that they had not been able to meet Dow’s predecessor Masisi during his tenure. Masisi had a short spell as the minister; his better time at the ministry was spent in acting capacity.
Dow was appointed a full cabinet minister by President Ian Khama in the cabinet re-shuffling which saw Member of Parliament for Moshupa-Manyana Mokgweetsi Masisi fully assuming the duties of vice presidency. Masisi was appointed Acting Minister of Education and Skills Development last in year in an unsual re-shuffle that saw the then Minister of Education Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi be given a special assignment outside cabinet with the expectation that she will return back to the ministry to execute her duties.
However, following the 2014 general elections, Venson-Moitoi was moved to Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Affairs.
The post Jacob Nkate era could be defined as the most difficult time in education as the union representing teachers and government were always at odds. By the time Venson-Moitoi bowed out of the ministry the relationship had not yet been restored.
The unveiling of events started in 2010, ahead of the Junior Certificate (JC) examination in which teachers refused to invigilate the examinations after they failed to reach an agreement over the payment. Parliament initiated a commission of inquiry after the results were released, with some doubting the credibility of the examination.
The committee chaired by former Permanent Secretary, Keetla Masogo, was tasked to investigate the examination scandal. Its mission was to establish the events leading to the conduct of the 2010 examinations, determine the extent to which the different stakeholders contributed towards the impasse, establish the appropriateness of their actions and recommend a sustainable solution to avoid a repeat of the debacle.
During the 2010 examination scandal, teachers refused to submit the coursework marks for students, resulting with marking which left out part of the critical final examination component, this further lent credence to those who doubted the credibility of the examinations.
While reeling from ignominy the of the examination scandal, the education sector had to endure an even more painful experience when teachers joined other civil servants to go on the 2011 Industrial Strike which was led by Botswana Federation of Public Sectors Union (BOFEPUSU) an umbrella union to all unions representing government employees. The strike which lasted three months saw students spending significant time not attending classes, hitting negatively on the 2011-2012 students result both for JC and BGCSE.
However, BTU is of the view that, although Venson-Moitoi presided over matters that led to crises during her tutelage she had her own achievements and proved that she had teachers’ interest at heart though she was not able to do enough.
Kenosi said Venson-Moitoi was the first minister to heed to level of operation calls from the unions which called for same salary for similar qualification in the education sector.
Some of the problems which BTU leadership is expected to discuss with Minister Dow are shortage of accommodation for teachers, class sizes, resources in schools, hours of work in the teaching service, levels of operation implementation challenges, water crisis and status of sectoral engagements among other things. Kenosi revealed that 3100 qualified teachers are currently unemployed, yet the schools are staffed with unqualified temporary teachers.
BTU Publicity Secretary Tidimalo Maeletso warned that if negotiation with government regarding education sector fails, they would resort to other means including striking. Maeletso said failure to reach an agreement would lead to a situation similar to that of 2010, in which teachers refused to submit course work marks for final examination.
Over 2,000 civil servants in the public sector have been interdicted for a variety of reasons, the majority of which are criminal in nature.
According to reports, some officers have been under interdiction for more than two years because such matters are still being investigated. Information reachingÂ WeekendPostÂ shows that local government, particularly councils, has the highest number of suspended officers.
In its annual report, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) revealed that councils lead in corrupt activities throughout the country, and dozens of council employees are being investigated for alleged corrupt activities. It is also reported that disciplined forces, including the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), police, and prisons, and the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) have suspended a significant number of officers.
The Ministry of Education and Skills Development has also recorded a good number of teachers who have implicated in love relationships with students, while some are accused of impregnating students both in primary and secondary school. Regional education officers have been tasked to investigate such matters and are believed to be far from completion as some students are dragging their feet in assisting the investigations to be completed.
This year, Mmadinare Senior Secondary reportedly had the highest number of pregnancies, especially among form five students who were later forcibly expelled from school. Responding to this publicationâ€™s queries, Permanent Secretary to the Office of the President Emma Peloetletse said, â€śas you might be aware, I am currently addressing public servants across the length and breadth of our beautiful republic. Due to your detailed enquiry, I am not able to respond within your schedule,â€ť she said.
She said some of the issues raised need verification of facts, some are still under investigation while some are still before the courts of law.
Meanwhile, it is close to six months since the Police Commissioner Keabetwe Makgophe, Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katlholo and the Deputy Director of the DIS Tefo Kgothane were suspended from their official duties on various charges.
Efforts to solicit comment from trade unions were futile at the time of going to press.
Some suspended officers who opted for anonymity claimed that they have close to two years while on suspension. One stated that the investigations that led him to be suspended have not been completed.
â€śIt is heartbreaking that at this time the investigations have not been completed,â€ť he toldÂ WeekendPost, adding that â€śwhen a person is suspended, they get their salary fully without fail until the matter is resolvedâ€ť.
Makgophe, Katlholo and Kgothane are the three most high-ranking government officials that are under interdiction.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and some senior government officials are abuzz with reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has requested his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane not to contest the next general elections in 2024.
The impacts of climate change are increasing in frequency and intensity every year and this is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future. African CEOs in the Global South are finally coming to the party on how to tackle the crisis.
Following the completion of COP27 in Egypt recently, CEOs of Africa DFIs converged in Botswana for the CEO Forum of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions. One of the key themes was on green financing and building partnerships for resource mobilization in financing SDGs in Africa
A report; “Weathering the storm; African Development Banks response to Covid-19” presented shocking findings during the seminar. Among them; African DFI’s have proven to be financially resilient, and they are fast shifting to a green transition and it’s financing.
COO, CEDA, James Moribame highlighted that; “Everyone needs food, shelter and all basic needs in general, but climate change is putting the achievement of this at bay. “It is expensive for businesses to do business, for instance; it is much challenging for the agricultural sector due to climate change, and the risks have gone up. If a famer plants crops, they should be ready for any potential natural disaster which will cost them their hard work.”
According to Moribame, Start-up businesses will forever require help if there is no change.
“There is no doubt that the Russia- Ukraine war disrupted supply chains. SMMEs have felt the most impact as some start-up businesses acquire their materials internationally, therefore as inflation peaks, this means the exchange rate rises which makes commodities expensive and challenging for SMMEs to progress. Basically, the cost of doing business has gone up. Governments are no longer able to support DFI’s.”
Moribame shared remedies to the situation, noting that; “What we need is leadership that will be able to address this. CEOs should ensure companies operate within a framework of responsible lending. They also ought to scout for opportunities that would be attractive to investors, this include investors who are willing to put money into green financing. Botswana is a prime spot for green financing due to the great opportunity that lies in solar projects. ”
Technology has been hailed as the economy of the future and thus needs to be embraced to drive operational efficiency both internally and externally.
Executive Director, bank of Industry Nigeria, Simon Aranou mentioned that for investors to pump money to climate financing in Africa, African states need to be in alignment with global standards.
“Do what meets world standards if you want money from international investors. Have a strong risk management system. Also be a good borrower, if you have a loan, honour the obligation of paying it back because this will ensure countries have a clean financial record which will then pave way for easier lending of money in the future. African states cannot just be demanding for mitigation from rich countries. Financing needs infrastructure to complement it, you cannot be seating on billions of dollars without the necessary support systems to make it work for you. Domestic resource mobilisation is key. Use public money to mobilise private money.” He said.
For his part, the Minster of Minister of Entrepreneurship, Karabo Gare enunciated that, over the past three years, governments across the world have had to readjust their priorities as the world dealt with the effects and impact of the COVID 19 pandemic both to human life and economic prosperity.
“The role of DFIs, during this tough period, which is to support governments through countercyclical measures, including funding of COVID-19 related development projects, has become more important than ever before. However, with the increasingly limited resources from governments, DFIs are now expected to mobilise resources to meet the fiscal gaps and continue to meet their developmental mandates across the various affected sectors of their economies.” Said Gare.