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.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.