The Botswana Examinations Council (BEC) has partially blamed the continued students’ dismal final examinations performance on the teachers’ low qualification.
Botswana has continually recorded poor performances year in and out in the final national examinations. These include the Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE), Junior Certificate Examination (JCE) and Botswana General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE).
The current education system has for some time been experiencing below par results, with teachers unions and government blaming one another for the failures. The situation has become a national crisis, with many people calling for a reform of the country’s education.
When appearing before the Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Bodies and State Enterprises Wednesday this week, BEC chief executive officer Moreetsi Thobega said they have found that teacher qualifications and training have a bearing on the students’ performance.
Thobega added there are many teachers in public schools who still possess Diploma and lower certificates. However, he noted that there are other factors such as issues of resources, learners’ background and parental support.
“Most of our teachers in primary schools have Diploma and lower. Yes, it affects performance. I’m saying this as we have researched on this. We have been participating in Inter Comparative Studies. This includes trends in Inter Mathematics and Science Studies and progress in literacy and reading studies,” Thobega said.
“We were analysing for impact of teacher qualification on performance. It came out that our teachers mainly at primary certificate are still at Diploma level. The analysis ended up pointing to teacher qualification and training as a factor in learner performance,” Thobega added.
He said compared to other countries where teachers with better qualifications such as Degree and Masters but teach same classes as in Botswana, their students perform better.
Thobega explained that the furthest to be done to improve the situation is to train teachers from a point of improving assessment in classrooms.
“In-service training department at the ministry which we work with should come up with training programmes for outcome-based assessment. We have extended this to our universities so that we enhance teachers. But as to whether qualifications levels will be raised, I think that goes to the larger government policy on in-service training of teachers which has been on-going, but not at the at which we loved to see,” he added.
Thobega also said he is not aware that the ministry does not recognise the Bachelor of Primary education course offered at the University of Botswana (UB).
He said as far as he was aware, students doing early childhood courses at Ba Isago are absorbed by government.
He added BEC is working with curriculum and evaluation department with intention to designing an assessment programme and class measurement input. According to him, performance can only improve if the country adopts an outcome-based teaching. This starts by up-skilling teachers.
On other matters, Thobega denied that there is friction between BEC and teachers’ unions. He said teachers’ unions make up the alleged friction in the way they communicate with their members. He said although it is expected that there could be tensions especially when one is dealing with employees in unionised environment, they have amicably resolved their issues with teachers’ unions.
Thobega’s comments followed questions from members of the committee. Nevah Tshabang and Aubrey Lesaso who are Members of Parliament for Shoshong and Nkange respectively had wanted Thobega to explain the relationship between teachers’ qualifications and the students’ performance in the final examinations.
They also sought an explanation on the alleged impasse between BEC and the teachers’ unions and how the examination body intends to resolve the matter.
He said while teachers’ unions want to be recognised by BEC to bargain for teachers marking and invigilation remunerations, it’s legally not practical. He explained that at the moment they can only work consult through a Memorandum of Understanding.