Give refugee children opportunity for tertiary education

Last week I was elated at the news that some refugee children had aced their Botswana General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE). My excitement faded upon learning that we have no provision for the sponsorship of refugee children to access tertiary education.

A quick reference to the Constitution reminded me of a fact I already knew. The Constitution permits discrimination on the basis of citizenship. It does not say that government cannot support refugee children. Nor does it say that those that have fallen upon hard times and have come knocking on our doors for hospitality can only be given shelter from the sun and rain. It simply says that government has an unfettered discretion not to extend the same socio-economic rights enjoyed by citizens to non-citizens. It is not a strange provision. It seems to be a globally accepted that in some respects, discrimination on the basis of citizenship is permissible. In South Africa, their Constitutional Court has ruled that some times of socio-economic rights cannot be denied to the foreigner without doing violence to key constitutional values. I am aware that theirs is a post-liberal dispensation blessed with progressive judges. I am equally aware that our bench is largely rule based and conservative and that progressive thought is viewed generally, as judicial activism. A legal challenge for socio economic rights of a refugee child would almost certainly be treated with scorn and sarcasm. Even derision.

In the deafening noise of the ever growing presidential clash of arms, I hope and indeed wish, that the belligerents may press the pause button and give the welfare of those poor kids a thought. We are a nation that values humanity, and for decades, we have held ourselves out to the world as a just and compassionate nation. Compassion is not about admitting someone to your home and abandoning them to their woes. Nor is it about giving them your bedroom and its comforts and sleeping on the floor in the back-house. It is about going as far as you reasonably can to make sure that their dignity, already in tatters, is as far as circumstances permit, restored and preserved. It is inconsistent with our values to give the stranger the barest minimum of comforts and deny them the opportunity to hope and to dream.

Editor's Comment
Our queen: Bring home the crown

Well-wishers gathered at the Sir Seretse Khama International Airport to bid our queen farewell and wish her success as she joins other beauties from around the globe for the coveted crown. Competing in such events is nerve-wracking, and one needs to be fully prepared to stand a chance of making it as a finalist.It is not just about physical fitness; mental state matters too. Unfortunately, sometimes our queens end up facing such fierce...

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