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Honey Befalls Teachers As BOTECO Emanates

IGNATIOUS NJOBVU
With practice, all things can come to perfection. And indeed taking an initiative will surely land you to greatness. Perhaps we need to note that the opposite is also true that without trying out new initiatives, one will always swim in the ordinary.

I am yet to hear sweeter news than what is currently trending in education circles about the incoming Botswana Teaching Council (BOTECO). This is one exciting development proving hard to believe.

A BOTECO draft bill presented to stakeholders in April 2017 together with the recommendations of the Education and Training sector Strategic Plan (ETSSP, 2015) are some of the real positive signs that something good is in the offing. Lawyers have a society, Nurses have an association, Accountants and Bankers have their own institutions, and it can only make sense that teachers should have their council as well.

The importance of a teacher is not fully recognised in many societies. Education may be highly valued but teachers sometimes less so. Of the many reasons for the non-recognition is the lack of an established professional regulatory body that monitors the teaching profession.

Effectiveness of teachers, continuous professional development of teachers, teaching standards and work ethics should form part of what should be regulated and reviewed by the council. Without these professional standards, we are likely to experience a devalued teaching standards characterised by poor work ethics, non-adherence to set standards, obsoleteness of facilitators and entrance of non-qualified personnel into the profession.

What even pains more is the perception that every person can be a teacher. Depending of the context, the statement might be true. But I am yet to be convinced that all teachers can effectively teach and mould a learner to fit in the 21st century world. This is because we lack the quality controlling measures that must be met in order to enter the teaching preparation programs.

To borrow a leaf from the Finland’s Education System, teaching should be the most admired profession and most sort after career. High quality teachers are the hallmark of the Finnish education system. Finland has moved education teaching to research universities conferring prestige on young people who go into teaching.

It is because of such professional standards that Finland has a

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very high retention rate for teachers, with a 2013 survey showing that about 90% of trained teachers remain in the profession for the duration of their careers. These investments in the Finnish education system together with their established standards are what make the teaching profession attractive.

If the council is to become a reality, teachers remain the most beneficiaries of such an establishment in many ways. The professional standards will protect the reputation and status of the profession. The mandatory registration with the council will provide teachers with statutory recognition of their professional status and verification of their educational qualifications.

Through a code of professional conduct, the council will provide teachers with clear professional guidance and protect the profession of teaching through the establishment of a formal complaints mechanism. And most importantly the council will provide support in the transition from college/university to classroom through induction and probation. With a body like Botswana Teaching Council enacted by an Act of parliament, it will be to the advantage of a Botswana teacher as they seek recognition and greener pastures beyond our borders.

Finally may I express my heart felt gratitude to all stakeholders who are working tirelessly to bring this product together. Special thank you to the teachers Unions involved and Government of Botswana through the Ministry of Basic Education. As teachers we should not get worried about the impending change. As they say, ‘growth is never found in comfort’ and therefore there is no point in clinging to comfortability.

We must be excited at the thought of implementing such a noble gesture. A gesture that will protect the nobleness and sanctity of the teaching profession, ensure quality control within the profession and probably increase the marketability of our teachers beyond borders. Let us all embrace the incoming Botswana teaching Council and hope for its speedy implementation.   

*Ignatious Njobvu is a Performance Improvement Coordinator at Maun Senior Secondary School & OBE Task Team Four Core Member.



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