The past few weeks have been described by intense political campaigns this country has never seen before.
The ‘election bug’ had affected a good number of Batswana. One could sense the tenacity that came with the electioneering ambiance.
At times, the situations became so tense that very close friends or relatives could be seen to be in no-talking terms because of their different political views.
Husbands and wives could barely reach a common ground on whom to send to council or parliament as their representatives. Whether or not these differences in various relationships will have devastating long term implications is a topic for another day, the good thing is that democracy came to play and a new Government has been ushered in through the electoral process. Once again, Botswana remains the beacon of democracy.
Today more than ever, our country is faced with unemployment especially of the youth which is rated at just around 17.6 percent.
Several studies reveal that a singular dominated education pathway system is one contributing factor to this undesirable condition. The reasoning is that the single pathway leads to a mismatch between the acquired skills and those that are much needed in the world of work.
Therefore, there is need for introduction of a flexible curriculum that will be fully responsive to the demands of the industries. Thus the Ministry of Basic Education (MoBE) has introduced a Multiple Pathways education system with the hope of addressing the unfortunate situation. The system will incorporate subjects in the curriculum which are directly linked to the realities in our environment.
Listening to your immediate first press briefing after His Excellency election on the 26th of October 2019, I picked several points which were made with regard to educational development.
Important to note was your emphasis for teacher welfare. His Excellency stated that a motivated teacher is capable of doing wonders in as far as improving teaching and learning is concerned.
Teacher motivation can also be enhanced by professional development. Not only does professional development motivate teachers, but does also improve their quality and relevance to modern trends in the education fraternity.
This means that it is critical that we revive the inspectorate and In-service departments so that they up their game.
The other important idea that The President made was decentralisation of processes within the education system. In my view, this is the most important management step that can enhance efficiency and effectiveness in learning institutions.
The current setup does not allow for much innovation and creativity from the school authorities. Empowering school leaderships as well as regional leaderships can actually do the magic.
If we take a leaf from the privately run education providers, we can agree in principle that they have better processes which are more efficient because of the enormous autonomy that these learning institutions have. In the same vein, the newly elected President emphasised the need to transform our ways of assessing and evaluating.
It has always been my view that school based assessments can allow us to develop other 21st century skills that we currently do not assess. Summing up the address by His Excellency, I would confidently say that he was reiterating that which is clearly described in the education and training sector strategic plan.
This he said, will form part of what his government will strive to deliver as they receive the new mandate.
I must hasten to say that this election season has brought a lot of excitement through robust debates which have fine-tuned many ideas.
As an educator, I feel proud because education featured as one of the important areas that needed urgent addressing. To hear His Excellency, talk about education with so much passion, can only bring about excitement and hope to many of us.
Now that the election season has come to an end, we look forward to what I believe is going to be a productive five years of educational transformation. I wish you well Mr President.