The pioneering batch of Back to School learners were amongst the worst performers, with average grades ranging from E to U, in the 2014 Junior Certificate Examinations (JCE) whose results were released on Friday.
The Back to School project is aimed at giving young people a second chance to enrol back into the school system and is open to all Batswana children who have, for a variety of reasons, failed to complete their basic path of education or training.
At least 28.1 percent of the Back to School learners scored grade E in the JCE, compared to 14.8 percent among ordinary learners, while another 29 percent of the Back to School group received grade U compared to 15.2 percent of the Non-Back to School students.
According to the results summary published in the Botswana Examinations Council (BEC) website, Back to School candidates increased the proportion of grade E performances by 0.5 percent, grade U by 0.6 percent and candidates not meeting the requirement of the qualification by 0.7 percent.
While the national performance was such that the majority of candidates obtained grade D, the results indicate that without Back to School, there could have been an increase in the overall picture, with candidates receiving grade B up by 0.3 percent, grade C by 0.8 percent and grade D by 0.5 percent.
Meanwhile, government centres (conventional junior schools) were the only ones that obtained a merit grade, also boasting the highest proportions in the grades A to D.
Conversely, the Botswana College of Distance and Open Learning (BOCODOL) had the highest proportion of candidates with grade U, followed by private centres.
Unveiling the Back to School initiative in his 2012 State of the Nation Address, President Ian Khama said the project would run for three years and was targeting an estimated 50,000 young people who were out of school and unemployed.
“To date, 1,320 young people have been re-absorbed into the school system,” the President said then. “A further 9,118 students have been enrolled into tertiary institutions to upgrade their qualifications. It is anticipated that 2013 and 2014 intakes will average 20,000.”
Commenting on the overall results, Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU) publicity secretary, Solomon Batsietswe, said the prevailing conditions of work for teachers were non-conducive for effective and quality learning.
“Students are still attending classes without textbooks and this affects the quality of learning and teaching,” he said.
“We still have a problem of overflowing students, where teacher students ratios surpass the stipulated figures.” Batsietswe said the ongoing issue of hours of work versus the cancellation of monetary overtime remuneration, had curtailed students’ engagement in extra-curricular activities and would continue to haunt the nation.