In the quest to reform the local education sector and infuse tertiary and vocational training in mainstream teaching the Ministry of Education and Skills Development (MoESD) will launch the dual pathway program in September 2015 or at the latest by January 2016, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education Dr Raphael Dingalo has said.
Dr Dingalo told this publication that Commonwealth countries are currently battling with improving the quality of education in their schools and Botswana just like her counterparts is hard hit. Infusing tertiary and vocational training in early learning is according to Dr Dingalo one of the long term measures of redress identified by Botswana to curb the situation. “We have decided to start a pilot project targeting students at junior secondary level,” said Dingalo.
According to Dr Dingalo the dual pathway program falls under the MoESD’s Education and Training Sector Strategic Plan (ETSSP 2015-2020) which is designed to comprehensively and fundamentally transform education from Pre-Primary to Tertiary level. He said they are currently in talks with a few selected vocational training institutions and the first batch of students selected for the pilot project should be able to start by September or January. “The Students will be enrolled for technical training but will be offered other theoretical subjects like basic mathematics, sciences and English on the side,” Dr Dingalo said.
Meanwhile Botswana Sectors of Educators (BOSETU) Secretary General Tobokani Rari said as teacher unions the ministry has not yet consulted them about the roll out of the program expected in less than two months. “It is news to us, look, it is not like we are against such noble initiatives by the ministry, it only becomes a problem when they do not engage the very same people who are going to implement the program on the ground,” he said. “The only problem we have with the ministry is their inability to consult us,” he added.
According to Rari as teacher unions they have for a long time advocated that vocational training be introduced to student at their earliest stage of learning as possible. “We need to dispel the stigma associated with vocational training,” he said.
Dr Dingalo was the leader of a delegation which accompanied Minister of Education and Skills Development Dr. Unity Dow to the Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers (CCEM) in Bahamas recently. According to Dr Dingalo they had through the conference gathered that quality is a cause for concern in most commonwealth countries and will be working hand in hand to address the situation.
Dr Dingalo said there are a number of variable affecting the quality of education locally saying one of the areas that emphasis must be put on is preprimary education. The use of ICT in learning will also according to Dr Dingalo be put on the forefront. “This generation’s way of learning is different. Technology has taken over. We now have platforms like facebook, which students spend most of their time on,” he said.
The Bahamas delegation comprised of among others MoESD officials, teacher representatives and student representatives from local institutions. One of the student representatives Hani Thusi an A level student at Maruapula International School, who is also an author and a motivational speaker said that his participation at the conference has taught him that our education system still has a long way to go but at the same its challenges can still be redressed.
According to Thusi as student representatives they also realised that Botswana‘s education system was grappling with delivering quality education to students. As a student Thusi says emphasis should be put on ensuring that teachers have the rightful qualifications and that they are able to motivate students. “Learning has to take place in a proper environment that will motivate students to learn with enthusiasm,” he said.
The Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers (CCEM) meets every three years. The rationale for the CCEM is to enable education Ministers across the Commonwealth to discuss key education issues in relation to a specific theme for that triennial. The theme of the 19th CCEM was Quality Education for Equitable Development; Perfomance, Paths and Productivity- 3Ps. The meeting was hosted by the Commonwealth Secretariat in collaboration with the government of the Bahamas in Nassau.