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Saturday, 02 December 2023

MoBE, BEC education weakest link


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 schools 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 Ministrys 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 years 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.


19 Bokamoso Private Hospital nurses graduate at Lenmed Nursing College

28th November 2023

The graduation of 19 nurses from Bokamoso Private Hospital at Lenmed Nursing College marks a significant milestone in their careers. These nurses have successfully completed various short learning programs, including Adult Intensive Care Unit, Emergency Nursing Care, Anaesthetic & Recovery Room Nursing, Anaesthetic Nursing, and Recovery Room Nursing. The ceremony, held in Gaborone, was a testament to their hard work and dedication.

Lenmed Nursing College, a renowned healthcare group with a presence in South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, and Ghana, has been instrumental in providing quality education and training to healthcare professionals. The Group Head of Operations, Jayesh Parshotam, emphasized the importance of upskilling nurses, who are at the forefront of healthcare systems. He also expressed his appreciation for the partnerships with Bokamoso Private Hospital, the Ministry of Health, and various health training institutes in Botswana.

Dr. Morrison Sinvula, a consultant from the Ministry of Health, commended Lenmed Health and Lenmed Nursing College for their commitment to the education and training of these exceptional nurses. He acknowledged their guidance, mentorship, and support in shaping the nurses’ careers and ensuring their success. Dr. Sinvula also reminded the graduates that education does not end here, as the field of healthcare is constantly evolving. He encouraged them to remain committed to lifelong learning and professional development, embracing new technologies and staying updated with the latest medical advancements.

Dr. Gontle Moleele, the Superintendent of Bokamoso Private Hospital, expressed her excitement and pride in the graduating class of 2023. She acknowledged the sacrifices made by these individuals, who have families and responsibilities, to ensure their graduation. Dr. Moleele also thanked Lenmed Nursing College for providing this opportunity to the hospital’s nurses, as it will contribute to the growth of the hospital.

The certificate recipients from Bokamoso Private Hospital were recognized for their outstanding achievements in their respective programs. Those who received the Cum Laude distinction in the Adult Intensive Care Unit program were Elton Keatlholwetse, Lebogang Kgokgonyane, Galaletsang Melamu, Pinkie Mokgosi, Ofentse Seboletswe, Gorata Basupi, Bareng Mosala, and Justice Senyarelo. In the Emergency Nursing Care program, Atlanang Moilwa, Bakwena Moilwa, Nathan Nhiwathiwa, Mogakolodi Lesarwe, Modisaotsile Thomas, and Lorato Matenje received the Cum Laude distinction. Kelebogile Dubula and Gaolatlhe Sentshwaraganye achieved Cum Laude in the Anaesthetic & Recovery Room Nursing program, while Keletso Basele excelled in the Anaesthetic Nursing program. Mompoloki Mokwaledi received recognition for completing the Recovery Room Nursing program.

In conclusion, the graduation of these 19 nurses from Bokamoso Private Hospital at Lenmed Nursing College is a testament to their dedication and commitment to their profession. They have successfully completed various short learning programs, equipping them with the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in their respective fields. The collaboration between Lenmed Nursing College, Bokamoso Private Hospital, and the Ministry of Health has played a crucial role in their success. As they embark on their careers, these nurses are encouraged to continue their professional development and embrace new advancements in healthcare.

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BNF secures 15 constituencies in UDC coalition, wants more

28th November 2023

The Botswana National Front (BNF) has recently announced that they have already secured 15 constituencies in the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) coalition, despite ongoing negotiations. This revelation comes as the BNF expresses its dissatisfaction with the current government and its leadership.

The UDC, which is comprised of the BNF, Botswana Peoples Party (BPP), Alliance for Progressives (AP), and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF), is preparing for the upcoming General Elections. However, the negotiations to allocate constituencies among the involved parties are still underway. Despite this, the BNF Chairman, Patrick Molotsi, confidently stated that they have already acquired 15 constituencies and are expecting to add more to their tally.

Molotsi’s statement reflects the BNF’s long-standing presence in many constituencies across Botswana. With a strong foothold in these areas, it is only natural for the BNF to seek an increase in the number of constituencies they represent. This move not only strengthens their position within the UDC coalition but also demonstrates their commitment to serving the interests of the people.

In a press conference, BNF Secretary General, Ketlhafile Motshegwa, expressed his discontent with the current government leadership. He criticized the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) for what he perceives as a disregard for the well-being of the Batswana people. Motshegwa highlighted issues such as high unemployment rates and shortages of essential medicines as evidence of the government’s failure to address the needs of its citizens.

The BNF’s dissatisfaction with the current government is a reflection of the growing discontent among the population. The Batswana people are increasingly frustrated with the lack of progress and the failure to address pressing issues. The BNF’s assertion that the government is playing with the lives of its citizens resonates with many who feel neglected and unheard.

The BNF’s acquisition of 15 constituencies, even before the negotiations have concluded, is a testament to their popularity and support among the people. It is a clear indication that the Batswana people are ready for change and are looking to the BNF to provide the leadership they desire.

As the negotiations continue, it is crucial for all parties involved to prioritize the interests of the people. The allocation of constituencies should be done in a fair and transparent manner, ensuring that the voices of all citizens are represented. The BNF’s success in securing constituencies should serve as a reminder to the other parties of the need to listen to the concerns and aspirations of the people they aim to represent.

In conclusion, the BNF’s acquisition of 15 constituencies, despite ongoing negotiations, highlights their strong presence and support among the Batswana people. Their dissatisfaction with the current government leadership reflects the growing discontent in the country. As the UDC coalition prepares for the upcoming General Elections, it is crucial for all parties to prioritize the needs and aspirations of the people. The BNF’s success should serve as a reminder of the importance of listening to the voices of the citizens and working towards a better future for Botswana.








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Children’s summit to discuss funding of NGOS

21st November 2023

One of the key issues that will be discussed by the Childrens’ Summit, which will be hosted by Childline Botswana Trust on 28th – 30th November in Gaborone, will be the topical issue of financing and strengthening of civil society organizations.

A statement from Childline Botswana indicates that the summit will adopt a road map for resourcing the children’s agenda by funding organizations. It will also cover issues relating to child welfare and protection; aimed at mobilizing governments to further strengthen Child Helplines; as well as sharing of emerging technologies to enhance the protection of Children and promotion of their rights.

According to Gaone Chepete, Communications Officer at Childline Botswana, the overall objective of the summit is to provide a platform for dialogue and engagement towards promoting practices and policies that fulfil children’s rights and welfare.

“Child Helplines in the region meet on a bi-annual basis to reflect on the state of children; evaluate their contribution and share experiences and best practice in the provision of services for children,” said Chepete.

The financing of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) by the state or its functionaries has generated mixed reactions from within the civil society space, with many arguing that it threatened NGOs activism and operational independence.

In February 2019, University of Botswana academic Kenneth Dipholo released a paper titled “State philanthropy: The demise of charitable organizations in Botswana,” in which he faulted then President Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama for using charity for political convenience and annexing the operational space of NGOs.

“Civil society is the domain in which individuals can exercise their rights as citizens and set limits to the power of the state. The state should be developing capable voluntary organizations rather than emaciating or colonizing them by usurping their space,” argued Dipholo.

He further argued that direct involvement of the state or state president in charity breeds unhealthy competition between the state itself and other organizations involved in charity. Under these circumstances, he added, the state will use charity work to remain relevant to the ordinary people and enhance its visibility at the expense of NGOs.

“A consequence of this arrangement is that charitable organizations will become affiliates of the state. This stifles innovation in the sense that it narrows the ability of charitable organizations to think outside the box. It also promotes mono-culturalism, as the state could support only charitable organizations that abide by its wishes,” said Dipholo.

In conclusion, Dipholo urged the state to focus on supporting NGOs so that they operate in a system that combines philanthropic work and state welfare programs.

He added that state philanthropy threatens to relegate and render charitable organizations virtually irrelevant and redundant unless they re-engineer themselves.

Another University of Botswana (UB) academic, Professor Zibani Maundeni, opined that politics vitally shape civil society interaction; as seen in the interactions between the two, where there is mutual criticism in each other’s presence.

Over the years, NGOs have found themselves grappling with dwindling financial resources as donors ran out of money in the face of increased competition for financing. Many NGOs have also been faulted for poorly managing their finances because of limited strategic planning and financial management expertise. This drove NGOs to look to government for funding; which fundamentally altered the relationships between the two. The end result was a complete change in the operational culture of NGOs, which diminished their social impact and made them even more fragile. Increased government control through contract clauses also reduced NGOs activism and autonomy.

However, others believe that NGOs and government need each other, especially in the provision of essential services like child welfare and protection. Speaking at the Civil Society Child Rights Convention in 2020, Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Setlhabelo Modukanele said government considers NGOs as critical partners in development.

“We recognize the role that NGOs play a critical role in the country’s development agenda,” said Modukanele.

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