In Botswana there is a great division between the goals of the education system and the goals of producing democratically active citizens. The school is an extension of the home environment, organized to encourage specific intellectual and social goals. If children are treated differently at home and school then improvement of the results would be a nightmare.
For any nation to be seen to be having a relevant and quality education, its education should be seen to be addressing the principles of democracy in a more direct and robust way. It is true that learners should be given freedom to learn in order to be responsible for their education. I am primarily concerned with the democratic ideal and its realization in every sphere of life. All learning comes from experience; if learners do not have experience or their environment is not well prepared then learning cannot take place. Socratic methods of teaching should be discouraged and student centered teaching strategies emphasized. The background of some children may predispose them to school failure because the children have not been prepared to understand or made comfortable in the classroom.
Botswana children from poor families start falling behind even before their first day at school because government does not have early childhood development programs to give a head start. Given the opportunity, one must concentrate on establishing early childhood programs such as in pre primary school and participation in other learning and school readiness activities that help children to develop and to perform well when they enter primary school. If we see this as a solution, why do we wait for other people to come and impose on us what should be done when we have the solution? This then calls for early childhood programs that should be free.
School failure has caused a lot of concern for the affected children; teachers and students’ parents must also be concerned. It affects not only the students, parents are affected and the community itself could have its share as a result of frustration created by the failure. It is true that the public is concerned about the results declining because they have a vital role to play in the education system. If they are not involved when making the curriculum then who is to blame because maybe we are teaching learners what they are not interested in or maybe what we teach learners is totally different from what they learn at home.
It is also very important to move from archaic school system structures to modern ones. In one-dimensional classrooms, all students are engaged in similar academic tasks most of the time and social comparisons appear common while the concept of ability is also narrowed compared to a multidimensional classroom. It is evident enough that a multidimensional class structure allows different kinds of ability to be seen or observed which not the case in Botswana is thereby leading to poor performance or results declining. The teachers should not be the main source of social control in the school.
Ideally, the curriculum should be based on a child’s experience and interests and prepare the child for life’s affairs. In Botswana learners are not enjoying the power of open, free and meaningful learning. It is through the provision of open education resources that could help learners acquire new information and communications technologies. This could make it possible to provide large quantities of free, multimedia content that are highly effective for acquiring basic knowledge and skills. Our classrooms and schools work in isolation with little knowledge about what is going on next door. Almost no data concerning student or teacher responses to the educational resources they use is available to the creators of those resources. Provision of network is extraordinarily valuable both for identifying the strengths and weaknesses of learning resources and improving them. This would enable even the most remote community to receive up to date information that is relevant to their needs. Curriculum should be in a way that addresses the learners need.
Traditionally education would imposition from the side of the teacher and reception and absorption from the side of the public, something which the famous writer John Dewey once wrote ‘may be compared to inscribing records upon a passive phonographic disc to result in giving back what has been inscribed when the proper button is pressed in recitation or examination.’ It is thus very important for the Ministry of Education and Skills Development to intensify the war for improvement.
Given the responsibility of improving the quality and standards of education one must consider the following: National Education Inspectorate- an independent body accountable to the minister, responsible for inspection of schools and regional operations and providing education and high quality advice for decision making by the ministry, cabinet and parliament. This brings us back to the consensus of the collective society.
Therefore, there is need to upgrade teachers skills so that they can effectively deliver the curriculum as well as to boost their moral in order to reduce teacher turnover. Adequate supply of human resource graduates from tertiary institutions who are competent with relevant and diversified skills and enhanced innovation and creativity ought to be insured. Also, teachers and learners must work together to make learning a contribution to their community……..BOTSWANA WA RONA
Kabelo Masvingo Mhuriro
FORMER BACSRC MINISTER UB-UDC PUBLICITY SECRETARY
EDITOR’S NOTE: THIS LETTER HAS BEEN EDITED FOR LENGTH