A national education consultative conference to interrogate issues bedevilling the sector will be held in Maun next week. The pitso, which is expected to attract academicians, policy makers, local authorities, government officials and learners promises to come up with “appropriate interventions to mitigate issues dogging the delivery of quality, accessible, equitable and relevant education to Batswana”.
A statement from the Ministry of Basic Education says the forum would discuss in-depth, issues negatively impacting the development and growth of basic education.
Held under the theme, ‘Towards Building Strategic Partnerships to enhance education performance in the 21st Century’, the convention will exploit opportunities offered by stakeholder partnerships to build a strong education sector.
Some of the challenges facing the education system include sex, drugs and rape in schools, class sizes, school management, poor working conditions, unavailability of resources among other issues.
Concerning learners’ behaviour and conduct, a startling report whose findings were released late last year says 13% of students nationwide reported having had sexual intercourse were raped the first time they had sexual intercourse, 9.8 percent of whom were boys and 16.8 percent girls.
The prevalence of self-reported rape at first intercourse was highest in the Gantsi region (70.8%), and the lowest in the North East region. These chilling figures are contained in a recently released survey, the Botswana Youth Risk Behaviour Surveillance Survey (BYRBSS) that was conducted by the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and the Ministry of Education and Skills Development (MoESD).
The survey covered 145 schools in the educational regions countrywide from September to October 2010 among students aged 10-19 years in upper primary and secondary schools in Botswana. The prevalence of self-reported rape at first intercourse was highest among
Critics have repeatedly asked government to look into the issue of overflowing classrooms saying the status quo results in limited contact time between the teachers and learners. Moreover, educationists say teachers are not deployed and capacitated to unleash their best potential.
In an impassioned address on the state of education in 2015, opposition leader Duma Boko asked that the school leadership be strengthened.
“We need to instill empowered leadership among school management to ensure that they impart and inculcate, consistently, to teachers and students alike, a compelling vision for an enriching and exciting learning experience,” Boko appealed.
Often, public schools across the country grapple with a severe shortage of prescribed textbooks as well as notebooks. The crisis hit rock bottom in 2015. At the time teachers and learners said the problem started as far as 2010 when the Junior Certificate Examination (JCE) syllabus was revised.
During that period, some publishers whom government had tendered with for the supply of textbooks in schools (across all the three levels) were taken aback by the decision to withdraw these tenders due to ‘lack of funds’.
Poor working environment for teachers has also been identified as a mammoth problem characterised by complaints around working conditions, working hours, remuneration, housing and other non-monetary incentives remain unresolved.