As we may all be aware, Botswana College of Distance and Open Learning (BOCODOL) gives students who did not successfully complete their Junior Certificate (JC) and Botswana General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) a second chance to sit for the examinations of the subjects they did not do well in.
The college also accords an opportunity to students who have never sat for any of the examinations of the certificates mentioned above to do so.
Enrolment is not free; they pay the enrolment/registration fee (P20), subject fee (P45 per subject) and examination fees (P75 to register for examinations + P10 local fee.
It does not end there; they then pay P245 for each subject they are going to sit for an examination). These students enroll because they want to better their grades for further education and that is what is going to give them quality lifestyle.
BOCODOL should, then, through its offices have these students' academic interests at heart. They should be offered the best service for they are the people who created employment for the occupants of these offices.
Let me make this painful proclamation to the public that at the moment, what we see on the ground is a complete picture of betrayal to those who are are seeing the need to cultivate a better future for themselves, paid their hard-earned money to enroll at BOCODOL.
The materials given to students for revision and assignments are sub-standard compared to examination papers from Botswana Examinations Council. I will focus more on BGCSE English Language materials to illustrate my argument, but I have heard tutors of other subjects voicing the same concern. Even Junior Certificate tutors have also expressed their displeasure to that effect. Some of the questions from the comprehension passages in the BGCSE English Language Paper 2 assignments do not have answers.
For the four years that I have been a tutor at BOCODOL, I have been trying to work out answers for those questions but failed. Unfortunately, tutors are never provided with marking keys for these assignments. The tutor who is paid peanuts by BOCODOL has to make their own marking key. If one looks at the summary question in Assignment 2, there are only four if not five summary points.
But according to my understanding, there should be 15 or more points. In the last year's Mock Exams, most of the questions in English Paper 2 were not anywhere near the BGCSE standards. They were not as challenging as the BGCSE questions should. Sadly for the students, they are in the final examinations going to get much more challenging stuff than the one in their revision and assignment materials. It appears like materials given to students are never reviewed because they have been receiving the same sub-standard materials since time immemorial.
I understand the college has Examination Officers as well as those who should review these materials, but the question is: What are they doing in those offices?
These students are not only betrayed through the materials they are given, but through the infinitesimal salaries that their tutors are paid.
The tutors are very much willing to help their students, but are often demoralised by the abnormally low payments.
This was totally an abhorrent. This 'guy' should know that the tutors worked hard for knowledge that they are selling in the tutorials they have with BOCODOL students.
They also sacrifice their time to go and help these students. Some of them go an extra mile to get the standard materials for these students which the college itself fails to provide. BOCODOL can only make a sober review of the salaries by not forgetting that these tutors were not employed 3by Teaching Service Management (government organ) but by BOCODOL (parastatal).
I think there is also an element of a low opinion of teachers here, coupled by jealousy. Jealousy is one of the things that work against advancement in our country because when it comes to payments, jealous top officials in the government, organisations and institutions always make sure that they keep the remuneration gap as wide as possible. They seem to forget that such kind of decisions have a domino effect. They end up affecting productivity in that some workers are not happy.
Going back to the issue of materials, the college should have specialists in all the subjects they offer so that they can set exams and prepare assignments. It should not just be one person doing it, but a chain of people working on the same subject. Some of the Mock Exams brought for students to write are full of errors.
This is often a clear indication that there is no editing done and may also be a pointer that they do not care. BOCODOL can also use the tutors to set these examination papers.
They are better placed to do a wonderful job because they are well conversant with the nature of BGCSE papers written in the final examinations. Some of them are examiners with Botswana Examination Council. BOCODOL officials should be concerned about quality and stop giving innocent students shoddily prepared materials.
I believe that some end up failing because they are ill-prepared for the examinations due to sub-standard materials they used to prepare themselves.
Most of these students work at low paying jobs, but because they so badly want to go up the education ladder, they pay to register for subjects and examinations at the college. Unfortunately, they do not get value for their money.
I call upon this institution to clean its house and help our beloved country to build one of the most important assets for economic growth; human resource. The institution should have the interests of the student at heart and do all that is humanly possible to align BOCODOL with other 21st Century distance learning institutions.