Teachers’ unions have welcomed last Friday’s adoption by Parliament of a motion establishing a Commission of Enquiry into the recent decline of results across the public education system, saying the move was ‘long overdue’.
Gaborone Central legislator, Phenyo Butale successfully moved the motion, which Parliament passed by consensus on Friday.
Yesterday, Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU) spokesperson, Edwin Maitshoko said teacher movements had always expressed deep concern over the deteriorating quality of education as evidenced by poor results across most levels.
“We have been talking about declining results and as teachers and unions in the education sector, this affects us on a daily basis. An inquiry would reveal to the authorities and highlight issues that we talk about daily,” he said. Maitshoko added that a host of factors were likely behind the drop in results, chief among them being the categorisation of teaching under the Public Service Act of 2008 whose operationalisation in 2010 saw the teaching cadre working eight hours.
“That has severely limited contact time between teachers and learners as well as activities such as morning studies, remedial, marking time and others,” he said. “All these are no longer there and sporting activities are squeezed in the timetable during weekdays, which also eat into instructional time.” Botswana Teachers Union (BTU), secretary for publicity and information, Zweli Tupane said the Commission of Enquiry would enable the nation to know what was hindering the education system.
Tupane said in as much as individual schools undertake results’ analyses at the end of every term, the approach ought to be adopted at national level where results are analysed annually to ensure
During debate on the motion on Friday, authorities in education insisted that an independent body called Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Education Quality (SACMEQ) headquartered at the University of Botswana had “undertaken this very task that we are debating about”.
According to the Tertiary Education, Research, Science, and Technology minister, Alfred Madigele the bodyhad thus done three studies so far. “Last time when I interacted with them they were presenting findings for SACMEQ (III). The latest study of SACMEQ (III) was done in 2013. The SACMEQ (II) was done in 2011, I think SACMEQ (I) was done around 2008,” he said.
However, not only were legislators surprised to learn about SACMEQ, but teacher unions expressed ignorance about the organisation’s work in Botswana. Both BOSETU and BTU said they were not made aware of any of the three studies, their members were not engaged and whatever findings produced were never made public. Presenting the motion, Butale said teachers’ conditions of service needed to be investigated.
“We need to look at them thoroughly and see whether they contribute to this thing. There are challenges around our capacitation, our equipping of our schools. As I speak right now, in this winter, it is so painful. “If I give Maoka Junior Secondary School as an example, there are no doors in almost all of the classrooms,” he said.