A confidential report leaked to The Botswana Gazette from The Botswana Education and Training Sector Strategic Plan (ETSSP 2015-2020) admits that the poor examination results in schools have been a result of the outdated curriculum, lack of quality of trained teachers and poor strategic governance.
The Ministry is embarking on plans to spend over P12.3 billion implementing the yet to be revealed ETSSP strategic plan which will run for five years. Of this amount, P2.5 billion is going to be needed for short-term interventions, P7.9 billion for the medium term while 1.8 billion is needed for the long term, the report says.
The ETSSP is a project that seeks to refocus national education and training curricula towards the fulfillment of social and economic aspirations identified in the Revised National Policy on Education (RNPE), the National Development Plan, Vision 2016 and as well as the Millennium Development Goals. It is intended to strengthen the match between qualifications and labor market requirements, thereby ensuring that education outputs are more closely aligned to future employment needs. It also facilitates improved outcomes for all learners by addressing issues of quality, relevance, access, equity and accountability across the entire sector, from Pre-Primary school to Tertiary level.
The report states that there are a number of critical challenges that have been identified through the situational analysis in the Botswana education system which need urgent attention. It noted that there is a challenge of poor quality teachers, as practicing teachers do not get equitable treatment when it comes to teacher training and professional development. The report advocated for an urgent need for review of the 2010 framework to be adhered to through strong leadership at the school base.
The report also noted that there is lack of clear policy on postings, transfers and recruitment, stating that there are a number of instances where teaching staff are posted in ‘an ad hoc fashion’ and transfer made in non-transparent ways.
“At the macro level, teacher administration and human resource management need to be urgently improved so that teaching staff become more than just ‘a number on a sheet’ and consideration is given to getting the ‘right person for/ to the right job.”
The United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization UNESCO’s review of Botswana’s Basic Education system (2013) notes that results show that students comparatively perform below par compared to international students of the same age group. And they also perform below the international benchmarks.
According to the report, the quality of Secondary Education has remained considerably below that of the high and middle-income countries with whom Botswana must compete, “especially in the subject areas of Science and Mathematics that will be the basis for the ‘selling of marketable skills’ in the coming decades.”
“A recent study on declining standards at senior secondary schools commissioned by MoESD found that in the sampled schools the BGCSE curriculum is overloaded and the content of the various syllabi leaves very little room for the development of quality learning. The method and practice used by teachers is severely outdated,” states the report, adding that overcrowding in schools/classrooms and high pupil-teacher ratio, poses a major challenge that impacts on all of the other areas.
There are also concerns about the content and relevance of the exiting syllabi. The curriculum is seen to be too content heavy, making it taxing for teachers to complete and with little time for more innovative professional work with learners.
Further, the report noted that there is not sufficient consultation with and involvement of teachers, especially primary school teachers in the process of developing the curriculum. This, the report indicates is compounded by inadequate provision of teacher training related to the new curriculum resulting in teachers often not being in a good position to implement the curriculum properly.
ETSSP says without substantial improvements in learning outcomes at all levels, the future development of Botswana will be seriously compromised.
In the recent budget speech Minister of Finance and Development Planing Kenneth Matambo mentioned that the education ministry accounts for the biggest share at P10.31 billion (28.1%) which is P512.49 million more that the current final year’s revised budget.