- P11 million debt cleared
- New school head and council key in resurgence
- Westwood recorded best results in 5 years last year
Over a year ago, this publication unearthed and reported on Westwood International School’s dire financial state in which they were in an P11 million deficit owing to mismanagement of funds by the previous school administration.
The Botswana Gazette has now established that the school has undergone a major transformation that has seen them make a remarkable recovery. Westwood International School has managed to balance their books and wipe out the P11 million debt that threatened to end the school’s existence.
Robert Jones, the Head of School who joined Westwood in 2019, along with a newly appointed School Council, was at the forefront of discovering the problem and dealing with it. “I came to Westwood in September 2019,” Jones began to explain. “I soon discovered, unfortunately, that we were in fact in debt up to the tune of up to P11 million.
“I had to take drastic action. We had to, through disciplinary action, remove all the people who were responsible. We had to rebuild trust because I consider parents’ money as public money and it was my job and responsibility to fix that. Parents needed to know that the money they were paying in school fees would be channelled into the right places.”
However, as Jones noted, the school underwent additional problems due to COVID-19. In spite of that, the students managed to record the school’s best end of year IB Diploma exam results in five years last year. Key to the success of the pass rate was a virtual learning initiative that produced excellent results. “The school is now back in a good place,” Jones continued.
“The first step in their recovery path was financing the debt through a bank loan. Once that process was set in motion, COVID-19 presented yet another setback and the school had to make accommodations for parents who were facing hardships as a result of the pandemic. But the morale is now good, staff know that the school has a bright future. Our teachers made many sacrifices to get us through those tough times.”
Nurturing tomorrow’s leaders
Westwood prides itself in taking a holistic approach to education. “Our students are well rounded,” said Jones. “They are not just academics. In the past few months, some of the students took on an initiative to give back to the community by undertaking projects such as cycling to Kang to raise funds for shelters that were deeply affected by the pandemic, donating food to families in need in Mochudi and writing letters of appreciation to the frontline workers who have been working tirelessly at Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital. We are raising a generation of confident, socially responsible lifelong learners.”
Through the globally acclaimed International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme, the school offers a continuum of education from Reception to high level Diploma courses that prepare students for higher level learning. The programme develops students who are not such academics but also inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who are motivated to succeed.
“Students of today have to be able to make connections,” said the School Head. “They have to understand the world in which we live and to have very good interpersonal skills and communication skills. We teach our students to be inquirers, to be risk-takers and to challenge us as educators.
“Our goal is to ensure that our students learn in a very respectful way, but they should also have the confidence to ask the right questions and to make the right decisions. Our role is to develop young people who will have the right tools to make smart decisions going forward.”
What the future holds
Not content to rest on their laurels after surviving the pandemic, Jones and the new School Council have set about improving the facilities. “We have ideas as a council,” Jones said. “We are planning to build facilities that will offer our secondary school students 21st century school facilities. Our intention is to begin working on a new, state of the art secondary building. It will give us increased capacity.
“Right now, we have about 600 students. We can grow to about 850 students in the new secondary school facility with the best science labs, art rooms and learning spaces. We want our students to have access to the best technology and learning environments. We want to build these new facilities in the next two years. This will attract new students and retain the students that we have at the school.”