Making schools count


Perhaps one should pause and join the rest of the world in recognising what is evidently an established culture of academic excellence in Selebi-Phikwe.

The recently published Junior Certificate Examination results show that there is a perfect exchange of baton between kindergarten, primary and secondary schools.

Selebi-Phikwe secondary schools are clearly building on the rock solid base laid at the foundation level. Elsewhere, this harmony between the foundation and secondary levels is conspicuously absent. It is not uncommon in other parts of the country to see a trend where secondary schools literally ‘drop the baton’ by failing students who otherwise achieved good grades at the foundation.

Every time the Botswana Examination Council announces results, the usually quiet and serene town of Selebi-Phikwe comes alive. The 2021 examination cycle just like the previous one has brought so much joy and happiness to parents and residents at large.

Clearly there is a ray of hope after the closure of the town’s economic mainstay - the copper mine. The least performer at primary school is proudly sitting at 77.6 % while 10 out of 11 public primary schools are sitting between 80% and 100%. Not wanting to be left behind, for two consecutive years, four out of six junior secondary schools appear in the top 10 brackets.

This is no mean feat by any standard. What is the secret of Phikwe, one may wonder? Perhaps, there is no clear cut answer as a lot of factors go into the complex task of teaching and learning. But one may appeal to the Ontario School Leadership framework for direction and unpacking of this phenomenon.

“There is a link between school leadership and student outcomes and their well being”. This means behind every high performing school there is a strong and inspirational school principal. Working closely with Phikwe school leadership, I can confidently say the town is endowed with a rare breed of principals and very passionate teachers who distinguish themselves with a total focus on classroom teaching. School principals in this town do not accept mediocrity. The standard set is high and both learners and staff are conscious of the high expectations that the environment demands. Equally exciting and assuring is the rigour and quality instruction teachers in this part of the world continue to show.

There is a clear and unparalleled competition within and between schools. At the same time, schools generously exchange notes in the name of upholding the reputation of the entire town. I have personally witnessed teachers going beyond the call of duty to an extent of increasing student-teacher contact outside normal working hours. This is normally done in the interests of learners without seeking additional remuneration. My Phikwe experience has helped me realise what they mean when they say teaching is a calling. Teaching is indeed a special vocation, which calls for selfless service. I find myself privileged to be working with this rare of breed of teachers who place the child and country at the centre of everything they do. This positive attitude of principals and their charges has made my work as the oversight authority relatively easy.

Editor's Comment
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