Leader of Opposition in Parliament Duma Boko has said that the education crisis facing the country is not simply a matter of education budget but a number of key factors which the government has continued to overlook.
Presenting a special statement on the 2014 Botswana General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) examination result this week, Boko said it is disturbing that the country has been experiencing a decline in BGCSE results yet there were no serious measures taken to address the situation. “Pass rates below 50% are unacceptable in a country in which more than two-thirds of the annual budget goes to education, with the public investing so much in education surely better returns on this investment are expected,” he said.
Boko argued that throwing money at the problems and taking pride in the amount that government has spent in education does not help to solve the crisis until all the challenges are aggressively addressed. The Ministry of Education and Skills Development (MoESD) was allocated P10.3 billion this year, a slight increase from last year’s P9.8 billion.
Boko said declining performance in the education system has far reaching implications for the country in the sense that the country may not be able to produce human resource robust enough to drive economic development. “Cyclical crisis in our education means we need to confront challenges in our education system aggressively and systematically,” he said.
The leader of opposition also said schools are not empowered to make their own decisions and budget for some of their basic needs, further adding that management at schools was not geared towards driving a vision that is shared at the lowest by the teachers. “School management does not utilize or deploy teachers effectively and the top down transfer and redeployment approach by the Ministry of Education frustrates efforts to build effective teams in the schools, school management is highly centralised,” Boko argued.
Boko, who is Member of Parliament for Gaborone Bonnington North observed that unless government makes up with unions representing teachers, the show of poor results would continue. “The never ending tug-of-war and conflict between teachers and Government must give way to a harmonious relationship forged on mutual respect,” he noted.
Boko stated that although problems emanating from working conditions, working hours, housing and other non-monetary incentives rarely afford perfect solutions, Government can offer the requisite soundness and seriousness to instil or restore confidence among teachers. “Teachers need to enjoy their profession and derive satisfaction in order to offer their very best,” he said.
The leader of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) noted that International educational benchmarking by organizations such as UNESCO, shows that Botswana is particularly poor at primary school level, the preparation ground for secondary schooling. “We will not be able to fix the poor result at secondary school level until we significantly enhance facilities, teaching quality and school management at the primary school levels,” he argued.
Boko called for change in approach towards school teaching and noted that laboratories, computers and other related facilities are underutilised. Boko’s observation is that the use of laboratories and libraries is regarded more to be a ritual for passing examinations than as an enriching environments for engaging the mind, and developing skills. “We need to change mindsets in schools and cultivate them as centres where students and teachers alike can engage their intellect, nurture their understanding of various disciplines and develop skills,” he contended.
Boko challenged Government’s teaching approach and stated that students are largely measured and assessed on narrow definitions of content or knowledge and not on skill development or on creativity. He said Government needs to accommodate the input of teachers and industry in the curriculum and also further develop an integrated frame work on how to implement such a curriculum effectively toward the desired outcomes with all stakeholders and their wholesome roles.
Boko, a former University of Botswana academic, said Botswana needs to learn to appoint best leaders at all levels, including Ministerial levels, to ensure that a culture of meritocracy is carried through the education system. “The destiny of our people is tied and riveted to the seriousness with which we adopt, as our own, the idea of excellence,” he stated.
Former Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Member of Parliament for Gaborone North, Haskins Nkaigwa has confirmed his departure from opposition fold to re-join the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
Nkaigwa said opposition is extremely divided and the leadership not in talking terms. “They are planning evil against each other. Nothing much will be achieved,” Nkaigwa told WeekendPost.
“I believe my time in the opposition has come to an end. It’s time to be of value to rebuilding our nation and economy of the country. Remember the BDP is where I started my political journey. It is home,” he said.
“Despite all challenges currently facing the world, President Masisi will be far with his promises to Batswana. A leader always have the interest of the people at heart despite how some decisions may look to be unpopular with the people.
“I have faith and full confidence in President Dr Masisi leadership. We shall overcome as party and nation the current challenges bedevilling nations. BDP will emerge stronger. President Masisi will always have my backing.”
Nkaigwa served as opposition legislator between 2014-2019 representing Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) under UDC banner. He joined BMD in 2011 at the height public servant strike whilst Gaborone City Deputy Mayor. He eventually rose to become the mayor same year, after BDP lost majority in the GCC.
Nkaigwa had been a member of Botswana National Front (BNF), having joined from Alliance for Progressives (AP) in 2019.
Botswana has received assistance worth over P100 million from Japanese government since 2019, making the latter of the largest donors to Botswana in recent years.
The assistance include relatively large-scale grant aid programmes such as the COVID-19 programme (to provide medical equipment; P34 million), the digital terrestrial television programme (to distribute receivers to the underprivileged, P17 million), the agriculture promotion programme (to provide agricultural machinery and equipment, P53million).
“As 2020 was a particularly difficult year, where COVID-19 hit Botswana’s economy and society hard, Japan felt the need to assist Botswana as our friend,” said Japan’s new Ambassador to Botswana, Hoshiyama Takashi.
“It is for this reason that grants of over P100 million were awarded to Botswana for the above mentioned projects.”
Japan is now the world’s fourth highest ranking donor country in terms of Official Development Assistance (ODA).
From 1991 to 2000, Japan continued as the top donor country in the world and contributed to Asia’s miracle economic development.
From 1993 onwards, the TICAD process commenced through Japan’s initiative as stated earlier. Japan’s main contribution has been in the form of Yen Loans, which are at a concessional rate, to suit large scale infrastructure construction.
“In Botswana, only a few projects have been implemented using the Yen Loan such as the Morupule “A” Power Station Rehabilitation and Pollution Abatement in 1986, the Railway Rolling Stock Increase Project in 1987, the Trans-Kalahari Road Construction Project in 1991, the North-South Carrier Water Project in 1995 and the Kazungula Bridge Construction Project in 2012,” said Ambassador Hoshiyama.
“In terms of grant aid and technical assistance, Japan has various aid schemes including development survey and master planning, expert dispatch to recipient countries, expert training in Japan, scholarships, small scale grass-roots program, culture-related assistance, aid through international organizations and so on.”
In 1993, Japan launched Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) to promote Africa’s development, peace and security, through the strengthening of relations in multilateral cooperation and partnership.
TICAD discuss development issues across Africa and, at the same time, present “aid menus” to African countries provided by Japan and the main aid-related international organizations, United Nations (UN), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank.
“As TICAD provides vision and guidance, it is up to each African country to take ownership and to implement her own development following TICAD polices and make use of the programmes shown in the aid menus,” Ambassordor Hoshiyama noted.
“This would include using ODA loans for quality infrastructure, suited to the country’s own nation-building needs. It is my fervent hope that Botswana will take full advantage of the TICAD process.”
Since then, seven conferences where held, the latest, TICAD 7 being in 2019 at Yokohama. TICAD 7’s agenda on African development focused on three pillars, among them the first pillar being “Accelerating economic transformation and improving business environment through innovation and private sector engagement”.
“Yes, private investment is very important, while public investment through ODA (Official Development Assistance) still plays an indispensable role in development,” the Japanese Ambassador said.
“For further economic development in Africa, Japan recognizes that strengthening regional connectivity and integration through investment in quality infrastructure is key.”
Japan has emphasized the following; effective implementation of economic corridors such as the East Africa Northern Corridor, Nacala Corridor and West Africa Growth Ring; Quality infrastructure investment in line with the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment should be promoted by co-financing or cooperation through the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Japan.
Japan also emphasized the establishment of mechanisms to encourage private investment and to improve the business environment.
According to the statistics issued by Japan’s Finance Ministry, Japan invested approximately 10 billion US dollars in Africa after TICAD 7 (2019) to year end 2020, but Japanese investment through third countries are not included in this figure.
“With the other points factored in, the figure isn’t established yet,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
The next conference, TICAD 8 will be held in Tunisia in 2022. This will be the second TICAD summit to be held on the African continent after TICAD 6 which was held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2016.
According to Ambassador Hoshiyama, in preparation for TICAD 8, the TICAD ministerial meeting will be held in Tokyo this year. The agenda to be discussed during TICAD 8 has not yet been fully deliberated on amongst TICAD Co-organizers (Japan, UN, UNDP, the World Bank and AU).
“Though not officially concluded, given the world situation caused by COVID-19, I believe that TICAD 8 will highlight health and medical issues including the promotion of a Universal Health Coverage (UHC),” said Hoshiyama.
“As the African economy has seriously taken a knock by COVID-19, economic issues, including debt, could be an item for serious discussion.”
The promotion of business is expected to be one of the most important topics. Japan and its partners, together with the business sector, will work closely to help revitalize private investment in Africa.
“All in all, the follow-up of the various programs that were committed by the Co-Organizers during the Yokohama Plan of Actions 2019 will also be reviewed as an important item of the agenda,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
“I believe that this TICAD follow-up mechanism has secured transparency and accountability as well as effective implementation of agreed actions by all parties. The guiding principle of TICAD is African ownership and international partnership.”
Directorate on Intelligence Services (DIS) Director General, Brigadier Peter Magosi is said to be hell-bent and pushing President Mokgweetsi Masisi to reshuffle his cabinet as a matter of urgency since a number of his ministers are conflicted.
The request by Magosi comes at a time when time is ticking on his contract which is awaiting renewal from Masisi.
This publication learns that Magosi is unshaken by the development and continues to wield power despite uncertainty hovering around his contractual renewal.