Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education and Skills Development Dr Theophilus Mooko was at pains trying to defend poor performance of his ministry when appearing before the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee. He admitted that his ministry has failed to deliver quality education due to poor planning. Dr Mooko who tried to apportion blame saying his ministry should not be the sole culprits had a rude awakening when MP for Francistown West Ignatius Moswaane told him to stop shifting blame. “ Moswaane put to him that one of the reasons that led to poor performance of students in national examinations is due to poor planning by his ministry as evidenced by shortage of books especially text books in schools. Mooko admitted that they have realised that their officers budget late for both books and food for students leading to students idling in schools."Yes I concede that we have failed the nation due to poor planning and under budgeting. We have failed in several aspects, supervision in schools is still a challenge and change in curriculum and failure to facilitate training for teachers,” conceded Mooko adding that curriculum at primary schools is too congested.
Another challenge that Mooko said could be leading to poor academic results which have been taking a nose dive is the automatic progression which he said is not working for them. Last year MOESD introduced Target 20000 which was aimed at up skilling and up scaling of unemployed youth and the project has faced challenges since its introduction. Mooko admitted that the project has failed to meet their target of 2000 youth as they only sponsored 12000 due to insufficient fund. Asked if they didn’t budget for the project, Mooko tried to hide behind ‘am new in the department’ tactic found Moswaane waiting for him with the collective responsibility question. It was revealed during the hearing that most of the target 2000 students have been left in limbo as they have not been paid their living and book allowances. “You are pumping money into the tertiary schools which are supposed to offer skills to these youth yet they don’t have books, where is logic there? And why can’t you stop the project as it is failing its intended people?” asked Moswaane.
In his response, Mooko said that they are doing everything to ensure that the students are paid their allowances. The none accreditation of some courses which has been dominating the news was also put to Mooko who admitted that they have realised that but said that the issue lies with the Botswana Qualification Authority. Moswaane asked if any action was taken against those who used cheap and unqualified labour to teach the students, MOESD answered in negative, an answer that didn’t impress the dramatic Francistown West MP. “I suspect that some of you have shares in these dubious schools hence you are failing to take action against them,” hit out Moswaane. Vocational training in Botswana is one sector which many stakeholders has called on government to consider taking it seriously as it can help in up skilling the youth.
Mooko conceded that his ministry has been under investing in technical and vocational training. “Sometimes we have the machines but no technical expertise and currently Francistown College of Technical and Vocational Education (FCTVE)’s equipment are underutilised,” he revealed. Teaching staff at technical colleges according to Mooko is also a challenge something which he blames on how people perceive technical and vocational training. On the welfare of teachers which has also been a thorny issue, Mooko find himself in a tight corner when asked what are his views regarding making teachers’ essential service workers. “I think the teaching profession is unique and we need a different approach to govern it from other cadres,” he said evading the question on essential service.