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Monkge must resign

The Botswana National Front (BNF) strongly condemns the uncouth, demeaning and abusive language allegedly used recently by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Basic Education (MoBE), Dr Collie Monkge when he addressed some teachers at a formal gathering.

Monkge has to unconditionally withdraw his rancid remarks, tender an apology to the teaching fraternity, the albinism community, the labour movement and Batswana in general and ultimately resign. If he is still on tour, this should be stopped immediately to protect him and the education system.

The BNF is aware of the countless challenges bedevilling our education system and has on several occasions proffered solutions to the now moribund Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) government.

Appointments in the public service should not be done on partisan or nepotism grounds but through intensive and transparent selection system so that deserving candidates are identified.

A good quality education system needs a sound policy framework which includes a strong and solid national curriculum. The 1994 Revised National Policy on Education is not monitored, evaluated and is selectively implemented. The European Union has also generously sponsored an Education and Training Sector Strategic Plan to try to improve the poor education system. Meanwhile, thousands of unproductive students are thrown into the streets year in and out, a clear indication of a sick system. And the fault does not lie with the teachers as Monkge seems to suggest.

The BNF has also long called on the BDP government to prioritise education so that funds are availed to pay teachers decent salaries and improve their working and living conditions. It is a

fact that teachers have to always embark on an industrial action or seek court redress to get their dues. The general teacher morale is at its lowest and Monkge’s conduct has worsened it. It should be noted that depending on how teachers are treated, they can make or break the system.

Schools should be adequately resourced as there is acute shortage of resources in our public schools including books. While there are thousands of unemployed teacher graduates, the student-teacher ratio is very high, making teaching a nightmare. The schools are generally in serious disrepair while funds are directed elsewhere and some siphoned away through corrupt practices.

There should be continuous refresher courses /workshops for teachers and their qualifications should be upgraded to a minimum Masters degree level. The world’s best education system is Finland. They have three teachers per class and Masters degree for all teachers is a pre-requisite.

Education is a very important commodity for socio-economic development and therefore should be adequately funded and well managed. The current circumstances in our schools are not conducive for a productive and quality education system. Together with other strategies from the professionals themselves, the above have to be put in place first before fingers can be pointed.

*Justin Hunyepa is the Botswana National Front Publicity Secretary and Umbrella for Democratic Change (DC) Labour Secretary

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