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The Three Rs V The Three Ws

Stuart White

Like many of you I have to admit it’s been a while since I had to sit an exam.  O-Levels, A-Levels, driving tests, end-of-course degree finals, add-on qualifications– at one stage in our lives they seem to come thick and fast.  And even though it’s a long way in the past, the experience and memories never completely leave us. 

I can still remember the weeks, days and hours of swotting; the burning of the midnight oil; the stomach-churning realisation that there were only hours left to go; the swirling thoughts of inadequacy and nagging doubts that wouldn’t go away – had we studied hard enough, learned enough, memorised enough?  Were we smart enough to pass? 

Could we bear the humiliation if we failed and had to re-sit?  And then the actual moment of truth, sat in the exam room, isolated in our own bubble, waiting for the signal to turn over the exam paper and begin, surreptitiously watching to see who in the room was out of the blocks first, then settling down, concentrating and focussing on your own test paper, desperate to set out all your hard-earned knowledge and finish within the specified time. 

And of course even when the exam was over and the paper turned in, it was far from over because then came possibly the worst time of all  – the agonising wait for results to come through, be it by mail or posted up on a college notice board, opening the letter with trembling hands or scanning the list for your name, fingers crossed that you’d made the grade.

It’s something that pretty much all of us have been through at one time or another because, let’s face it, ours is a very competitive world.  Even when you make it through the youthful examination phase in your life, the testing is far from over. 

Every job you apply for is another dog-eat-dog proving ground where you have to convince an individual, a panel or an entire board that you are the best man, or woman, for the job, that you have sufficient knowledge and experience for the post, that you are better than the next candidate, that you were top of the class and now you are the top dog. 

And once again you have the agonising wait to find out if you  were successful or whether it’s back to the Sits Vac page, whilst you deal with what feels like unfair rejection, replaying the selection processes again and again in your mind  to try and pinpoint where you went wrong, what you could have done or said better  and wishing you could re-sit the interview just as you were once able to re-take  an exam.

And the one thing that job interviews and exams have in common is that they are set up as a test of you and you alone.  You are not expected to bring along any physical tools or cheat sheets to assist you in passing the exam or landing the job. 

You are there to be tested on your personal smarts, on what you have learned, your ability to process that information,, the intelligence of your interpretation and your succinctness in laying it all out in a finite amount f time.  So how would  you react to the opinion of Mark Dawe, recently appointed head of OCR (Oxford, Cambridge & RSA) in the United Kingdom, the body which oversees A & A-level exams and testing, who caused controversy recently by saying he thought “Introducing tools like Google or calculators will help teachers assess the way students draw on information and apply it to their learning.”. 

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Mr. Dawe went on ““Everyone has a computer available to solve a problem but its then about how they interpret the results. We have tools, like Google, why would you exclude those from students’ learning? “Surely when they learn in the classroom, everyone uses Google if there is a question. It is more about understanding what results you’re seeing rather than keeping all of that knowledge in your head because that’s not how the modern world works…”

If you think this sounds vaguely familiar, think back to when the idea of using pocket calculators in exams was first mooted.  The argument was exactly the same – that they were a tool readily available outside the exam room that pupils would avail themselves of in real situations where mathematical calculations were required so why not bring them in to the exam? 

And of course the counter arguments remain the same – that the ability to properly use a calculator relies on a basic knowledge of mathematical principles and the exam sets out to test that knowledge, not the candidate’s dexterity with a miniature numerical keyboard and a mini computer doing all the working out for them. 

So when Mr. Dawe opines that outside of the testing centre, candidates can do a quick sweep of Wikipedia and other online information source sites so why not during the exam, the same objections arise – that they are not being tested on their surfing skills but on their accumulated and stored knowledge, stored in their head, that is, and not on the worldwide web.

If you think about it, there is no substantial difference to the idea of bringing textbooks into the exam than to calculators and iPods or laptops.  Don’t bother learning anything beforehand; just rather concentrate on learning where to find what you need to know. 

And of course that’s exactly what we do when we are not in an exam situation.  We use our min electronic tools, we hit the internet and we pick up books to accomplish tasks easier and faster, just as I surfed the net to find the full quote above from Mr. Dawe. 

But then again, I’m not being tested and I’m not sitting an exam because I’ve already been there, done that and got the qualification and it wasn’t an O-Level in calculator sums, an A-Level in surfing speed and a degree that reads Bwww.

STUART WHITE is the Managing Director of HRMC and they can be reached on 395 1640 or at

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020

Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.

The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.

Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.

At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.

Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).

This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.

In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.

Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?

Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.

Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.

“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)

We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”


Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.

Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be.  You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”


Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.

When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.


Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.

However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.”
“Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)


Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.

It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.

Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.

Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

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