The Ministry of Basic Education’s choice to appoint two Zimbabwean nationals to senior management positions has been met with mixed reactions.
The two, Bona Gutu and Buhle Siziba, were appointed director at the Department of Curriculum Development and Evaluation and director at the Department of Educational Planning and Research Services respectively. The duo was serving as deputy divisional directors in Zimbabwe.
While some highly placed education officers were irked that the duo holds no special qualifications, others believe that ever since government localised the positions, the country’s education has deteriorated.
Botswana Sector of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU) wants the appointments revoked while education’s assistant minister, Naniki Makwinja says the duo has expertise that would help develop the country.
“We have learnt with great shock and deep seated disappointment of the appointment by the government of Botswana of the two directors. Our shock and disappointment emanates from the fact that the individuals that have been appointed are foreign nationals who are Zimbabwean citizens. We should, however, be upfront to point out that we do not have anything against the Zimbabwean nationals or any national of any country for that matter, nor do we harbour any xenophobic tendencies,” BOSETU secretary-general Tobokani Rari said.
“Our gripe with this appointment is that they run contrary to the principle and policy of localisation that Botswana as a country has always advocated (for). The positions are very low and ordinary positions that have been manned by locals before and did very well. In fact, we have gone through the qualifications and competencies of the two appointed foreign nationals and we realised that they do not have any special skills that could be superior to some of the citizens of this country.”
Rari added that the appointments would only serve to frustrate and dampen the moral of a number of the deserving working force within the education sector. He said there are many Batswana who have what it takes in terms of skills and competencies to lead these two departments and as such there is no need to shop outside the country.
“In fact, government has, in recruiting these foreign nationals, unashamedly participated in the process of delocalising jobs and exporting employment opportunities for Botswana. The recruitment of the two foreign nationals is a serious indictment on the relevance of the education system of this country. After 55 years of independence, by these appointments, government is crisply making a public pronouncement that we have failed to produce the human resource that can lead the education ministry departments. As BOSETU we call upon government to, with immediate effect, revoke the appointment of the two foreign nationals with a view to appoint deserving citizens to drive these departments,” he added.
One senior education officer who did not want to be named said: “I personally think that since the localisation of posts started in the ministry, there was been a sharp decline of student results and staff performance in schools probably due to so many factors. And I believe that our foreign counterparts did help the country a lot in many policy issues then, including aligning the curriculum to assessment. The two run parallel nowadays and there is no way results can improve. Let more foreigners come including those coming to teach.”
He argues that in the past before the localisation of posts, foreigners were good with teaching practicals which led to schools doing very well.
While education minister Fidelis Molao’s phone rang unanswered, his assistant Makwinja would not go into details. “Your questions should be forwarded to the Public Relations department. What I can share is that this is part of an effort to address the situation of dwindling education performance in the country. They possess skills that will help us achieve our turnaround strategy,” she said.