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Unions angered by Goya’s defence of overcrowded classrooms

Secretary General of the Botswana Federation of Public Service Unions (BOFEPUSU), Tobokani Rari.

Assistant Minister of Education and Skills Development, Moiseraele Goya’ s public remarks on radio over overcrowded classrooms  has opened old wounds and angered some Public Service unions who have come out with guns blazing, questioning the junior Minister’s leadership skills.

The Botswana Federation of Public Service Unions which is an umbrella body of five unions did not take kindly to a suggestion by Goya that students would not fail because they are too many in class and has expressed disappointment at his views.

“We have really been perturbed and disturbed by a rather seemingly pedestrian utterance and reasoning advanced by Assistant Minister of Education Moiseraele Goya with respect to the very critical issue of class size,” stated the Secretary General of the Botswana Federation of Public Service Unions (BOFEPUSU), Tobokani Rari.

Goya, on Monday, during a local radio morning show, defended the government's failure to comply with the 1994 revised National Policy on Education recommendation to reduce class sizes to about thirty-five (35) by advancing “a rather unattractive reason”, that there are schools with very few students in classes which still fail and those with classes that are simmering but which still do very well.

His reasoning according to Rari was unconvincing and, “at its worst, too simplistic and pedestrian reasoning.”

“We have all as society in the first instance, including the Honourable Assistant Minister, agreed that the results are not only low, but rather very deplorable. So, the Honourable Assistant Minister is comparing results of class sizes in a deplorable education system which does not make any iota of sense,” Rari added.

Analytical Research has proved that, the more students there are in a classroom, the less time the teacher has to deal with each single student, and usually teachers resort to the ineffective transmission methods as opposed to the effective learner centred methods.

Currently a single class in a government school carries over forty students but statistics show that students in urban and semi-urban schools perform better than those in rural areas. In fact, for the past five years, urban schools maintained the top five positions while rural schools always sank to the bottom.

Goya’s contention was that the class size does not necessarily determine the student performances but rather a combination of factors including school management and teacher performance.

Further responding to that, Rari levelled all the blame on the government for failing to motivate and empower the teachers. Rari alleges that the government has neglected the in-service of teachers, not necessarily, taking them for further studies, but rather up – skilling them through workshops and seminars.

According to Goya, in the yesteryears, teachers used to be up skilled, re – tooled and sharpened by the department of in-service which has since collapsed. The exercises according to him, was done to meet the demands of the ever challenging and changing teaching methodologies, strategies and the changing syllabus content. It used to happen in the form of workshops, seminars and other similar activities, with subject specialists in the form of Principal Education Officers (PEOs) taking these responsibilities of sharpening the teachers' teaching skills and content.

“This has died away, with the current system preferring to rather intensify the seemingly witch – hunting inspection exercise. PEOs have been turned into inspectors, cris – crossing the country, reacting to crisis in schools, and producing reports which are mostly punitive and points to crisis in management of schools,”

Even with “this rather fault finding and punitive process of inspection,” Rari says the reports are busy gathering dust in the shelves rendering the initiative a waste of public monies and time.

“Our view has always been that we should rather intensify in-service and inspect later, but not to intensify inspection at the detriment of in-service. Part of the reasons why we have this crisis is because, the content of the syllabus is changing, methodologies are as well fast changing, technology way ahead of us, but the teacher is not being brought up to speed with all these,” Rari explained.

Rari doubles as the Secretary General of the Botswana Sector of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU).  

The Policy

The revised National Policy on Education of 1994 was developed from the 1977 Education for Kagisano. The overall objectives of national education will was to raise educational standards at all levels, emphasize science and technology in the education system, make further education and training more relevant available to larger numbers of people, improve the partnership between school and community in the development of education, provide life-long education to all sections of the population, assume more effective control of the examination mechanism in order to ensure that the broad objectives of the curriculum are realized and achieve efficiency in educational development.

The policy has also made some recommendations that can drive the education system of Botswana ahead. These recommendations have been divided into short-term, medium-term and long-term goals. The Revised National Policy on Education has given birth to sub policies within the education sector like the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECC&E) Policy of 2001 and the Tertiary Education Policy of 2008.

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Khan: Boko, Masisi are fake politicians

18th January 2021
Masisi & Boko

While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.

Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.

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Ookeditse rejects lobby for BPF top post

18th January 2021

Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.

Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.

Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”

“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.

He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.

He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.

According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.

There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.

Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.

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BDP cancels MPs retreat

18th January 2021
President Masisi

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.

“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication.
The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.

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