The case of the Botswana education system
We sent our kids to school for the real world which is changing very fast, but our schools haven’t changed for hundreds of years. An education system for ages is still being used now. The current education system was designed for industrial age i.e. mainly to train factory workers. This industrial age mentality of mass production and mass control still runs deep in schools today.
INDUSTRIAL AGE VALUE
We educate our children by batches and govern their life’s by ringing the bells. All day long student do nothing but follow instructions “sit down, take out your text books, turn to page 3, solve problem number 4, stop talking”. Where do we see our children’s creativity and self-control in their lives? Nowhere, because the system is designed to be the master of their lives, it controls them. And from then as a parent you are told that your child is dumb, he is not reading and fails to take simple instructions.
In school you are awarded for doing exactly what you are told. For example, questions like “In your view, explain why you think this is…”, as a student you do explain what you think according to your own view. Then a teacher marks you wrong for not understanding your view and tells you that, “I wanted you to answer this way not your own way.” These are industrial age values for factory workers as their success is based on following instructions and doing exactly what they are told. But in today’s world, how far you can get can’t be reached by simply following instructions.
The modern world values people who can become creative and communicate their ideas and collaborate with others. But our children do not have a chance to develop such skills in a system designed for industrial age.
LACK OF TIME CONTROL
At school our children experience a complete lack of autonomy and control as their time is controlled by the system. In today’s world if you are doing your own work, you are managing and controlling your own time, and controlling your own decisions and choices on what to do and when to do it. But at school life is different as the system is sending a dangerous message to our children that they are not in charge if their own lives. E.g. they just have to follow whatever is laid down, instead of taking charge of their lives. Looking at our children now they are all demotivated by school. Just imagine you being told what to do every minute of your life and how to do it. School is not interesting and challenging anymore, this system had been used on our grandparents and is still used in the present day on us. We are taught the same stuff as our forefathers, so people this system is not applicable today and in future. And our governments will say ‘Sometimes I think school is a prison with decorations and few hours of freedom’ but when a new day starts you are back to be controlled and monitored.
Most learning happening in school today is not authentic as it relays more in memorization and road learning. The system measures the intelligence of kids based on facts learning and monthly administered tests. Most of what the children learn is often gone a day after the exam as it has been memorized and crammed just for a student to pass the exams. Our examination measures how much our children can memorise rather than how much our children understand and solve problems.
Even in colleges and universities there is a lot of theory AND most of it will not be applied at the field of work. So our children need more practical than theory as it is hard to forget something that you practice every day. For many years university students had pleaded for more practical than theory, the system still denies them.
There is no room for passion and interest. We have an extremely standardized system in which each child must learn the same thing, the same time, in the same way as everyone else. This does not respect the basic fact that we are human; each of us is unique and different in our own way. We all have different interests and passions. Others want to be, lawyers, managers, doctors etc. And the key to fulfilment in life is to find your own passion.
The key question here is “Does our current education system help our children develop their passion”? They seem to have no room in the current education for the most important question in the child’s life. WHAT AM I GOOD AT? WHAT DO I WANT IN LIFE and HOW DO I FIT IN THIS WORLD? The system does not seem to care.
There are so many great intelligent people who failed in the traditional education system; fortunately, they were able to overcome this system failure. In Botswana we have VEE as a good example. A man with a passion for music and am sure the system never catered for his talent and passion. The system failed him and he passed in life.
In the current system, children are lectured for more than five hours a day. But there is a big problem as in any given classroom different students are at different levels of understanding. Whatever teachers teach there are either students who are bored because they are ahead or bored because they are behind. Because of internet and social media networks our children have all the information they need at their fingertips. Technology has made it possible for everyone who wants to learn anything in sites like Wikipedia, Google, Yahoo, and YouTube. But for fear of losing control, the system is not leveraging this incredible resource.
Our education system which involves, industrial age values, lack of autonomy and inauthentic learning has become outdated and ineffective. But if we want to prepare our children for the modern world, if we want learning to be effective and engaging, there is no doubt that we need to change our system of education. School policies need to be reviewed and changed to be in line with the modern and future world. Students need to be taught more in computer technologies and business because in today’s world, for an individual to be successful he or she needs to understand these majors. From the roots level, computers need to be introduced in primary school syllabus so that children start to learn how to operate it from a young age and master it as they grow. Business studies is very important to all individual as it needs to be a core subject as most goes to school so that tomorrow they can earn something or run some business. Children need to be taught financial subjects. How to use money and make money is very important in an individual’s life. These are the factors that the state should amend in the school curriculum so that they can help solving the current national problem be it, economic, social, political etc. Public libraries opening and closing time needs to be reviewed. They are open from 8am till 1630hours, in these hours most students are in school in classes. It could be better if public libraries would close late at night so that high school children and college students could have time to access them and do their school works late as even the mind concentrate more at that time.
One other factor to remember is the cost of living is very high. So our children in university need the state support as they need more student living allowance than ever. This is because most of our bright children drop out of varsities as they need to hustle money outside so that they can try to sustain themselves. Rent, food, transport and clothing is very expensive, so you will find that students miss most important lessons in disputes with landlords or many are back home asking for money for food and rent while we need them to be in class so that tomorrow they can lead this great country. So if these students won’t get assistance soon, they might not be here tomorrow to lead as their intelligence and studies was disturbed by the hustle to sustain themselves in which it can be avoided by increasing the student living allowance.
As the governing body, start to recognize talent. There are many talented individuals around the country, but due to lack of recognition, their talents die with them. People with innovative ideas, for example, Batshane, that young man who had a dream of building his own car. He tried so hard to make the state recognize his idea and put help to it and be part of his innovation. The painful thing is most Batswana with such ideas, when they saw what that young man went through, they got demotivated and their great ideas dies. One factor we all know is talent can pay more than anything, looking at people in sport from other countries, they get paid more including actors, artiest etc. Sports academies and centres need to be built so that children can get learn; those that are interested in sports and those in dancing, acting etc. There should be studios that are there to help from the roots level. Not only school education can take our students somewhere. We need to look at all angles of education that we think a student can do best in and focus more in.