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MoBE, BEC education weakest link

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The basic education in Botswana is continuing on a downhill slope and snowballing evidenced by the recently released Botswana General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) 2021 results. This comes a week after the release of the Junior Certificate Examination (JCE) results which were equally disappointing.

According to the Botswana Examinations Council (BEC), a total of 37 629 candidates wrote the 2021 examination, comprised of 15 544 (41.31%) male candidates and 22 085 (58.69%) female candidates. Overall performance for government school, private school and individual private candidates is at a pass level of 61.27% showing an insignificant improvement of 0.72 % at Grade G or better compared to 2020. A slight decline of 0.68% has been noted at Grade E or better and a minor increase of 0.08% at Grade C or better.

Analysis of the results at syllabus level shows that three syllabuses namely Chemistry, Physical Education and Music recorded a 100% pass rate. Business Studies continues to record the lowest pass rate at 83.73%, implying that about 16% of candidates in the syllabus are assigned a U.

The results show that females outperformed their male counterparts at overall level Grade G or better. However, males outperformed their female counterparts at top grades being Grade A or better.

Remarks by the Minister of Basic Education Fidelis Molao highlighted that; “the BGCSE is currently the pinnacle of our Basic Education continuum.” Adding; “the BGCSE results are not only reflective of learning achievement that happened in the two years of the Senior School programme, but they indicate a culmination of learning that happened over a period of twelve-years. For Botswana to attain her ideals of attaining a knowledge based economy that is laden with the 4th Industrial Revolution skills, the first twelve years of education should provide a fertile ground for that.”

However there seems to be a weak link in the twelve years of education.

BEC continues to point a finger at the Covid 19 pandemic. As stated by the BEC, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr. Moreetsi Thobega. He said that “the 2021 examinations, like those of 2020, were conducted under the COVID-19 environment.  The schools had to close from 16 July to 31 August 2021 due to the rapid spread of COVID-19. This then led to timetable changes to address the loss of teaching time.  Despite the challenges with COVID-19, the conduct of examinations went relatively well, with the exception of a few incidents recorded.”

In the same vein, some incident to note is that on 23 October 2021, eight candidates missed their Science Double Award Paper 3 components due to the public transport strike in the Gaborone area.  These candidates were granted special consideration.

In an interview with this publication, the Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU) Public Relations Officer, Oreeditse Nyatso highlighted that; “Covid cannot, and will never be a main factor attributed to the dwindling performance of learners. There are many factors which contributes to the end results.

Infrastructure in schools has deteriorated over years; many school’s science labs are used as base rooms and apparatus are malfunctional. The results have been declining for the past 3 to 5 years, and many factors contributed to this decline. Educators’ welfare and conditions of service are also main contributors.

In service trainings have been stopped and with the increase in complexity and dynamic in curriculum delivery and assessment. Leadership in the 21st century is key in delivering output, and school leadership or management is not an exception. School managers need to be capacitated to lead teachers and learners.”

He went on that; “BOSETU believes that the key and vehicle to knowledge-based economy is quality education. To realize quality education; policies, human resource, facilities and technological infrastructure must be commensurate with the set strategy and targets. Our believe is that the strategy towards a knowledge-based economy is fine, but the inputs from the drivers (government) are far from realizing the strategy.

It is a far-fetched dream. It will, just like Vision 2016 be a chorus Batswana will be expected to sing and memorize. Failure by MoBE to implement the ETSSP is one indication that diversification and innovation expected from Batswana learners; who are expected to use their God-given talents and abilities to move Botswana forward.”

On the matter of students with special with special needs often being sidelined such as not benefiting from centers for access arrangements and special consideration during exams. BOSETU stance is that; they have in the past, advocated for a post in schools that will specifically deal with learners with all disabilities.

They believe the Guidance and Counselling office is no longer coping with the challenges facing learners. “Segregating learners into special schools is no longer viable as that on its own is discriminatory and makes learners feel they are ‘not normal’.”

BOSETU understands the pressure its members go through throughout the year. “Though traumatic to our members, they never relent in encouraging learners to give out their best. Before examinations, schools organize workshops and seminars to motivate the learners.

During examinations, our members are always at the forefront in helping learners cope with anxiety and exam fevers. This is a service BOSETU members are nit renumerated for, but they do it out of patriotism and the care for the needs and welfare of learners. Said Nyatso.

Despite the lack of performance in basic education, the Ministry of Basic Education (MoBE) continues to receive a fat cheque from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development. In her maiden budget speech, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Peggy Serame disclosed that “the Ministry of Basic Education has been allocated the second largest share of the proposed Ministerial Recurrent Budget of 18.5 percent, amounting to P9.87 billion.

The proposed allocations are intended to help drive the Ministry’s key mandate of striving to educate students to become self-sufficient, life-long learners and empower them to be competent, productive and responsible caring citizens. The above represents growth of P343.66 million or 3.6 percent over the current year’s approved budget.

The major cost drivers of the proposed budget include teachers’ salaries, which includes provision for new teacher positions to absorb 3 509 temporary teachers on a full-time basis, as well as allowances, operational costs for Botswana Examination Council, food and books for students, service charges and other costs associated with learners such as materials for practical subjects. Maintenance of existing facilities continues to be a priority under the Ministry.”

BEC recognizes candidates with Outstanding Performance as Top Achievers. The criterion for outstanding performance in the BGCSE examination is achievement of at least six A*s in the syllabuses that a candidate may have taken.

The number of candidates who met this criterion in 2021 is seventeen from eleven centers compared to nineteen from twelve centers in 2020, with four candidates from one center this year whilst the rest of the centers had three two or one . The top candidate achieved 9A*, 1A, 1B and 1C from 12 syllabuses whilst the 2020 top candidate achieved 11A*s from a total of 11 syllabuses.

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Over 2 000 civil servants interdicted

6th December 2022

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 reaching WeekendPost 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 publication’s queries, Permanent Secretary to the Office of the President Emma Peloetletse said, “as 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,” 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.

“It is heartbreaking that at this time the investigations have not been completed,” he told WeekendPost, adding that “when a person is suspended, they get their salary fully without fail until the matter is resolved”.

Makgophe, Katlholo and Kgothane are the three most high-ranking government officials that are under interdiction.

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Masisi to dump Tsogwane?

28th November 2022

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.

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African DFIs gear to combat climate change

25th November 2022

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.

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