It would seem that Batswana have now come to terms with the reality that when Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE), Junior Certificate (JC) and Botswana General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) results are officially released, they would range between very poor and deplorable.
Due to the scenario, It is almost 10 years now since the nation has witnessed any significant improvement in students’ performance in the examination results. What is abundantly clear is that, there is a mismatch between such poor students’ academic outcomes and the global perspective about Botswana’s status as one of the very few upper-middle income African countries. The country has a relatively small population and adequate resources in comparison not just to almost all other African countries, but also to many others in different parts of the world. One would be forgiven for harbouring a legitimate expectation about the country that should boast of very high standards of public education that should only match those of the best in the world. Ironically, the students’ academic attainment over the years has consistently depicted a picture of an education system that is in shambles and only comparable to the poorest of the poor countries.
Every year, Botswana Examinations Council (BEC) provisional summary of results paints a very bleak future for the youths of this country.
These extremely low academic standards as reflected in students’ awful results at all levels of our education are a manifestation of a public education system that has no direction, in crisis and therefore needs special and urgent attention. However, while the decline in students’ performance has continued unabated for so many years, and to a point where it has now turned into a permanent crisis, the tragedy is that the Ministry of Basic Education seems to be lacking ideas and capacity to be able come up with any permanent solution to the totally unacceptable and catastrophic situation. Unless the government comes to appreciate and accepts that our education is at tipping point, it could ultimately implode at any time when it would be too late to reverse the situation.
While government may want to hide behind the Education and Training Sector Strategic Plan (ETSSP), as a panacea to challenges currently contributing to students ‘poor results, the experience is that we have had such policy documents before, one of them being the Revised National Policy on Education (RNPE). On paper it was a very good policy. But it never achieved its intended purpose of among others, transforming the education system in light of the country’s changing and complex economy. It’ a fact that implementation of the RNPE turned out to be a nightmare, and there is no guarantee that this one will be different. It is clear that currently we have many immediate challenges outside ETSSP that need to be addressed now than rely on a comprehensive policy that may not necessarily address such critical problems as awful academic results.
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”
- Mark Twain