Education system impoverishes Batswana-Boko

SHARE   |   Sunday, 22 March 2015   |   By Keitebe Kgosikebatho

The Leader of Opposition in parliament-Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) president Duma Boko has accused government and the current education system of denying poor Batswana an opportunity  to participate in and benefit from meaningfully  rewarding  economic activities.
Presenting a statement on the 2014 Botswana General Certificate of Secondary Education Examination (BGCSE) results on Wednesday Boko said the dismal perfomance of students bespeaks tragedy. He highlighted the fact that consistently  underperforming  schools are in the rural areas in particular regions of the country. This trend he says is exacerbating the gross  income inequalities that has characterized the country for quite some time now. Education, according to Boko, is the most potent vehicle for upward  social mobility in this country and under the current  education system this would prove to be too impossible a task. “The poor and indeed  the whole country, have pinned  their hopes  for a better life  on their children  perfoming  well at school  and ultimately landing  jobs or other opportunities  with a sustainable income. These hopes are being dashed by the poor perfomance of government schools generally and the rural based schools in particular. The result of the poor education system  is an ever widening gap  between the better off  urban  and the desperately poor  rural populations,” he said.
Boko observed that  consistently  it is schools  in the western  and north-western parts of the  country that underperform. “Drawing the logic  of education  as a means of  unlocking people’s potentialities , it stands to reason that  residents  of these regions are  marginalized  economically relative  to their counterparts in the eastern  parts of the country  where overall  school perfomance  is far much better," he said.
Boko challenged government  to confront the ‘cynical crisis’ in the education system   aggressively and systematically. He said a number of key issues that currently need to be  addressed include; the less than satisfactory  management at school level, poor working environment for teachers, poor preparation for students for secondary schooling, intellectually  unhealthy  learning  environment  for learners  and their teachers and a disconnect  between  the desired  outcomes and the practice  on the ground, marked by a lack of  compelling  or animating vision at all levels to push  the desired outcomes.
Responding to Boko’statement, The Minister of Education and Skills Development Unity Dow  said government is currently devising a strategic plan geared at addressing the same issues he raised. However, Boko said unless government takes a holistic approach towards addressing the problem by involving all stakeholders then all is bound to fail. He also dismissed Francistown West MP Ignatius Moswaane’s  comment that  the education system was currently in  shambles because teachers abandoned their students and classes to partake in the 2011 public service strike. Moswaane accused the opposition of fueling the strike, saying they are equally to blame for the poor results.
According to Boko the 2011 strike only exposed how bad the situation has become, the BGCSE Results he says have been declining  since 2006. “The  strike was a progressive occurrence and it was triggered by the very same poor conditions  we are talking about,” he said. 

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