The World Bank has recommended a large-scale in-service teacher training and support programme to help the country’s public education sector to become more student-focused.
The recommendations are contained in a new report on critical education reforms in Botswana launched yesterday. The report, entitled ‘Job-ready Graduates of Secondary Education in Botswana, Lesotho and Zambia’, states that by shifting the responsibility for learning to students, teachers can significantly improve their students’ acquisition of 21st century skills.
The report notes that Botswana ought to substantially revive the in-service teacher training programme as part of the implementation of a competency-based curriculum.
“It appears that the current programme is not sufficiently coordinated, funded and managed,” the report says.
Further suggestions include the need to work with school inspectors, regional offices and school principals to conduct classroom observations using standardised protocol aligned with training and curriculum.
The experts recommend that the training could be informed by analytical reports from the Botswana Examinations Council on learners’ shortcomings as observed in examinations.
Moreover, the experts have proposed reform-responsible staff in each school to guide teachers, parents and students in the changes required, thus creating school-based change agents.
Another crucial intervention suggested by the report is the substantial acceleration of preparing and approving a competency-based curriculum, which should include school-based elements.
“Botswana is on the right way with the draft National Curriculum Assessment Framework and the Sector
The reform of the curriculum of senior secondary education should include an increase in instructional hours devoted to core subjects such as English, Setswana, Maths and Science and a reduction of the share of less relevant subjects. There should also be an increase in contact hours, possibly through a reduction of the share of less relevant subjects, the report urges.
“An investment of substantial funding in communicating to the general public and discussing with teachers and education officials the goals of the competency-based curriculum (is required) to lay the foundation for a mindset change towards the competencies, not passive reproduction of knowledge,” states the report.
Another intervention proposed by the report is the introduction of professional education pathways in senior secondary education, which echoes reforms espoused in government’s Education and Training Sector Strategic Plan.
The report says both pathways should lead to a qualification that is accepted for further studies at the tertiary level. Currently, only seven percent of local senior secondary learners make it to tertiary education, explained World Bank senior education specialist, Xiaonan Cao. At least 87,000 Batswana with secondary education in Botswana are unemployed, the specialist said.