Mmegi Blogs :: Education is more than a right, it should be central to human rights!
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Last Updated
Friday 16 November 2018, 13:42 pm.
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Education is more than a right, it should be central to human rights!

I listened enchanted to Wednesday’s ‘Breakfast with Reg’, the topic being Honourable Bagalatia Arone’s motion rejected by Parliament recently on quality education in private tertiary institutions. Panelists, Hon Arone and Dr Elmond Tafa lecturer in Foundations of Education Department at UB were good and concise in analysing the importance of keeping tabs on these institutions to deliver quality education: Government pours lots of money into these institutions, but are returns on investment good for Batswana? Why do graduates from these institutions still roam the streets while expatriates lap up available vacancies in the market?
By Michael Dingake Tue 09 Dec 2014, 17:49 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Blogs :: Education is more than a right, it should be central to human rights!








Reggie, the programme’s presenter, as usual was strict with callers who were digressing from the topic by negatively commenting on what other callers said. I generally commend Reggie for keeping panelists and callers on a strict and narrow path to avoid snide remarks which risk derailing from the topic. Reggie occasionally overshoots his target. Take this morning when one of the BDP regular cynical callers veered from topic to attack Dr Tafa, alleging he was responsible (as University lecturer) for producing these ‘under-qualified’ graduates. When a caller tried to respond to the unfair insinuation, Reggie, cut him short. I thought, “unfair”! Without self-contradiction, allowing cross-comments from callers can take a subject out of context. But still it’s fair that after allowing an insinuation from one caller, another caller or the person disparaged should rebut without prolonging the asides. Again, during the Gabz FM constituency political debates, some members of the audience at a number of constituencies tried to ask questions about the unity of opposition parties, which Reggie disallowed, promising it’d be discussed at the Presidential Debates. Unfortunately, time was not available at the Presidential debates; to make matters worse the UDC President, as the last to make the closing remarks, used the ‘unity issue’ as a sneaky knockout punch! The moderator had by over-control, denied the public the privilege to look at the issue from both angles.

I acquired a penchant for education early: When I grew up, father was a seasonal worker shuttling between South African mines and his Mosalakwane ploughing fields. Plough time meant he was home tilling his fields, then he was off on contract to the South African mines or white farms in Tuli Block. At the mines he noted those with a modicum of education did lighter jobs above ground and received higher pay than those working down the mine shafts, risking rock-fall and death but paid  peanuts. On the farms, the importance of farming as a means of producing food was not lost to Pa. For son, to avoid backbreaking underground work, being paid peanuts; son had to be educated. He sent me to school at the tender age of eight- in those days defying extended family objections.

A dedicated farmer, he wanted me to attend Fort Cox Agriculture school to study agriculture. No, I preferred to study medicine. Why? I didn’t fancy working in the blistering heat for days on end. What did I want to do, then? I wanted to be doctor! Apparently when I was a kid, grandpa, a popular herbalist, used to take me around digging roots,

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tumors etc to cure the sick. He had lots of cattle, lived well and was popular with the villagers. Precocious bambino? Why I ended up a mass agitation politician is a long story for another day. But it would be amiss not to mention a contemporary Kgosi Tshekedi of Bangwato under whose jurisdiction Babirwa fell.  Some people know TK is my hero, they don’t know why. He is my hero not only because I met him at Palapye railway-station as a starry-eyed school kid on my travel to Pax College Pietersburg, (Polokwane). He engaged me in conversation: “O ya kae ngwanaka? O ithuta eng? O ithute thata! (Where are you to my son? What are you learning at school? Study hard, my son ). TK was accompanied by Monametsi Chiepe another talked-about Motswana educationist.

My father didn’t like TK and said why: He alleged TK had mistreated Bakalaka baga Mhapswa (Nswazi). I didn’t know the full story and couldn’t argue, but having met him with Chiepe, Mokalaka, I was quizzical; Pa also hated the fact that TK made Bangwato regiments, of which he was a part, labour gratis constructing Moeng College in Tswapong. In my little mind, TK was right because the school was for future generations and the older generation had an obligation to contribute to its progeny, instead of depending on outsiders. Precocity? But here is one of the gems why Tshekedi was an African prodigy and legend: TK started a pilot project of mobile schools to cater for Basarwa herdsmen at cattle-posts in Bangwato reserve, I know it for a fact because my parents’ Mokoswane cattle-post was one of the areas where I witnessed TK’s mobile schools in operation! TK recognised education was a basic and universal right long before the conception of UNESCO! Imagine, had TK’s project succeeded how our generation would have bypassed the current curse of Basarwa discrimination, for Basarwa culture would have dovetailed into so-called ‘civilised’ society since the role of education is to prepare humans of whatever, creed, colour or culture to participate equally in economic life!  The passion for education generally, shouldn’t exclude passion for quality of education. We have too many youth, dedicated abusers of alcohol and drugs roaming the streets! Van Rensburg’s seminal idea of ‘Education with production,’ remains acutely relevant.

Hats off to Honourable Arone for pledging to retable the motion ;  Dr Tafa’s recommendation to show support by mass demonstration when motion is re-tabled must be welcomed for it isn’t just Arone’s, but a popular demand, underlining education as a basic right squared!

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