Education has myriad issues - BOSETU

Education has myriad issues - BOSETU
The recent announcement that the government will downsize the public service has resulted in fear and panic among trade unionists.

The president of the Botswana Sector of Education Trade Unions (BOSETU), Winston Radikolo, says despite being allocated the largest share of the budget at 18.8 percent or P9.52 billion - which represent a growth of P510.84 million or 5.7 percent - there is still a need for more funds in the sector.

“The budget has not been crafted to deal with the already existing challenges such as shortage of textbooks in schools, the state of disrepair of facilities and dysfunctional equipment, just to mention a few,” Radikolo said at a press conference recently.

He said the shortage of staff has crippled the education sector and contributes to poor performance of schools that are saddled with 2000 temporary teachers even as some schools have expanded.

“The 2021/22 budget does not seem to cater for the staffing needs of expanded schools,” Radikolo said. “It is fair to conclude that the proposed recurrent budget allocation for the Ministry of Basic Education will go nowhere near addressing already existing challenges.”

Release of the 2020 JC results on 7 February 2021 coincided with the much criticised budget proposal of Dr. Matsheka whose prioritisation of education has not spared him criticism.

Announcing the results via a press release, the Botswana Examinations Council (BEC) stated that in 2020, a total of 43 883 candidates sat for exams, which was a 7 percent increase on the 41048 for 2019.

According to BEC, 11 students attained merit compared to the three in 2019. Public school students who obtained E or better represent 84.20 percent compared to 85.50 percent in 2019, a slight decline of 1.30 percent. Grade C or better represents 35.8 percent compared to 37.50 percent in 2019, a decline of 1.7 percent.

The Business Weekly & Review contacted a high ranking MoBE official who preferred anonymity. Asked to give an overview of the 2020 JC results, the official said there is weak leadership in schools and that more investment should be made in leadership professional development. “Properly governed schools do better than poorly governed schools,” the source said.

There should also be frequent teacher development to improve mastery of the curriculum and classroom delivery while the curriculum should be trimmed for more focus on relevant content and supply of teaching aids improved. In addition to this, “the ministry should devolve powers to regions and schools by granting schools space and autonomy to manage their finances”.

Over the years, Botswana has seen a decline in results that has largely been attributed to the challenges faced by educators within the sector. The inability of the government to tackle administrative deficiencies has resulted in worsening performance that was exacerbated by COVID-19 last year.

Against this background, BOSETU is urging a hastening of the process of hiring teachers at understaffed schools.