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Last Updated
Friday 11 June 2021, 13:14 pm.
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Issues In Education

Equality Of Opportunity In Difficult Times
By D. MOLEFE
O. PANSIRI&
S. WEEKS
(GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Issues In Education








The Ministry of Education and Skills Development is re-introducing a schools' fees policy through a directive for tertiary education for new entrants into private institutions beginning the next academic year. The re-introduction of school fees must be worrisome, not only to the affected private tertiary institutions that have already responded to the announcement of the policy, but also to the general members of the public. This Issues will explore some of the implications of this new policy.

Private tertiary educational institutions are in business to make a profit while providing a much needed service. It should be appreciated that their contribution in increasing opportunities for further education is significant and part of the national strategy to expand access and increase the proportion of the age group in higher education.

Prior to the inception of private tertiary educational institutions, Botswana has over many years had limited places for tertiary students locally and depended on institutions in South Africa, Malaysia, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and others for placements.

Guided by Tertiary Education Council policies, regulations and procedures, and in an effort to benchmark their products with other institutions of similar standing locally, regionally and internationally, some of the private tertiary institutions in Botswana have incurred significant amounts of expenditure to upgrade their programmes, infrastructure, and other related resources in the quest to raise quality and standards.

Cooperating and partnering with the government, the upgrades were influenced by the desire of these private institutions to make sure the country and the public get the best quality higher education from them.

Now the world recession has impacted everywhere in the world. Governments are still faced with the challenge to serve the interests of their nations' development. These are diverse and governments are to review their plans and reconsider their priorities. While the initial announcement from the Ministry of Education and Skills Development seems so final-as even dates are set for implementation-consideration of other alternatives should not be overlooked. A critical analysis of who is going to be more affected by this policy is important.

Especially in view of the fact that citizens are

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not all equal as social stratification dictates that there are the rich, elites and middle class who are the 'haves' and workers and lower class - the 'have-nots'. The 'haves' are able to explore all available opportunities within their means to make sure their children gain access to the best basic education in the country. They have the advantage and economic power to exercise some degree of choice.

Where their children need extra educational attention, they facilitate such opportunities through private tutoring and home technologies to boost their children's chances of success. Their motivation for learning is on the rise and their ambitions are clearly established.

Advantaged children are likely to do well in their Form Five examinations and should be ready to advance to public tertiary institutions such as the University of Botswana, Colleges of Education, Institutes of Health Sciences, Technical Colleges, BIUST and so on where they will be supported by the government.

The 'have-nots' do not have the "gift of choice" and are and have been totally dependent on government financial support, but they do not to perform as well on the Botswana General Certificate of School Education (BGCSE). They have no choice, no private tutoring, no extended technology to boost learning in their homes, and research shows they even have a reduced motivation for further learning.

The success of the economically disadvantaged children in basic education schools depends mainly on the effort of their teachers. The chances of a level of performance in the BGCSE that qualifies them for acceptance into public institutions are low.

The majority will not qualify for entrance into the public tertiary institutions, not because they are not intelligent, but because they did not get the opportunity to develop their potential to the maximum.

The current economic recession presents a challenge; it is also a big problem for every one. The decisions and policies related to tertiary education funding in Botswana should be informed by a calculated understanding of social development.

Alternatives need to be sought and explored towards continuing to achieve equality of tertiary educational opportunity for all.

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