Teacher unions have trashed President Ian Khama’s State of the Nation address as a misdiagnosis of the education fraternity and a failure to present a true picture of the sector or usher in appropriate remedies.
Commenting on Monday’s address, Botswana Sectors of Educators’ Trade Union (BOSETU) secretary general, Tobokani Rari, said Khama failed to address pertinent issues bedevilling the sector.
“It was just a quiet speech. It doesn’t tell people what the milestones and the challenges are,” Rari said. “The address is an opportunity for the President on behalf of the Executive to provide an account on what has been happening during the period under review. Khama did not live up to that moment.”
Rari said government should have seized the opportunity to detail the troubles of the education sector to Batswana.
“Over the past six or seven years we have had a decline in national examinations results across all levels and we at BOSETU believe this was a golden opportunity for the President to assure the nation that government acknowledges the decline.
He could also have communicated the intervention measures,” Rari said.
Rari said though the Education and Training Sector Strategic Plan (ETSSP) – a blue print for the transformation of the system – was mentioned in the presentation, this was inadequate, as Khama did not showcase how it would usher in solutions.
“The plan is a reform strategy for improving the quality of the education sector’s performance. At its core, ETSSP is focused on improving governance through enhanced educational administration to deliver better coordination and resource allocation, as well as strategic planning,” Khama said Monday.
However, Rari said this approach was flawed as it focused on the inspectoral side of education while paying no attention to in-service training, which government abandoned about five years.
Education unionists believe this is the cause of the dwindling national pass rate.
“In our diagnosis that decision contributed immensely to the declining pass rate because before that, teachers were up-skilled on the syllabus as it changes, informed by the dynamics of teaching methodologies based on research,” he said.
Rari also said Khama did not “succinctly and wholesomely” address the thorny issue of youth unemployment, which he said was the “manifestation of a collapsing system”.
He also decried what he said was the lack of commitment towards addressing skills, explaining that this was evident in the absence of updates on what stakeholders such as the Human Resource Development Council are doing to redress the challenge.
“To tell you the truth, unemployment has been orchestrated by the archaic system that trains youths for white collar jobs, whereas the vocational sector is still regarded as a route for academic failures,” he said.
Representatives of the Botswana Teachers Union yesterday said they were still working on a collective position of response to the SONA.