FRANCISTOWN: The Botswana Teachers Union (BTU) deputy secretary general Keorapetse Rebobonye has condemned the Minister of Basic Education (MoBE) Bagalatia Arone’s statement about scraping Religious and Moral Education off the schools’ curriculum.
Arone was speaking during the COPA Coca Cola football tournament launch recently where he said that it did not make sense to teach children about religion and morals at schools since they can be taught the same at their homes.
Arone was quoted by a local publication saying, “the ministry is busy making changes and I instructed them that the curriculum should be trimmed. I do not see the reason why Religious Education should be a subject; they are just family values issues (sic)”.
When responding to Arone’s utterances, Rebobonye said that it is very unfortunate for the minister to consider taking such a decision under the current moral decay that Botswana is currently experiencing.
“If indeed the minister said he would scrap religious and moral education off the syllabus, it would be a total setback,” Rebobonye said.
Rebobonye said that Arone’s intention would be a slap in the face of children’s moral development and the teachers’ welfare.
He explained that some students are exhibiting immoral behaviour at schools to the extent of bringing dangerous weapons like knives at schools, which is a clear sign of lack of proper manners, tolerance, culture and religious principles.
He added that religious and moral education subjects are intended to mould children into responsible citizens therefore; the cancellation of subjects from the school curriculum would be a great disservice to the proper development of children.
Rebobonye further stated that the minister is totally out of sync with the truth because religious and moral education subjects also complement
He expressed fear that the government would be scoring an own goal should it go ahead to remove the subjects from the school curriculum because they are part of many factors that contribute to the raising of responsible citizens.
“Teaching children religious and moral education imparts personal skills development, which in the long run would make them work with people of different backgrounds and races at the workplace,” he reiterated.
Rebobonye decried the fact that should government execute its plan, a lot of teachers are going to lose their jobs, which would add to the already high unemployment rate contrary to the state’s dream of creating more employment for its people.
“When President Mokgweetsi Masisi was inaugurated, one of his main priorities was to create many jobs for the unemployed, especially the youth who are qualified, but are not employed. Henceforth, if government carries out its plan, this would be contrary to Masisi’s dream,” bemoaned Rebobonye.
The educator also cried out that government has not consulted with its major stakeholders in the education fraternity before deciding to carry out its ill-advised plan.
To map the way forward, Rebobonye said that BTU formally ask Arone to fully explain his stance and thereafter take appropriate action.
“We would follow up the matter even with Masisi because he promised us that his doors are open to trade unions for any type of consultations after he assumed the presidency,” a worried Rebobonye said.