Tuesday, October 26, 2021

BQA rot affecting Botswana’s education standard

A leaked confidential report reveals how the Botswana Qualification Authority (BQA) leadership allegedly used the organisation for personal gains at the expense of the nation and the education system.

The report further reveals that to date, BQO’s apparent efforts to strengthen education at all levels in order to build a sustainable knowledge based economy and improve the quality of education have been minimal to non-existent due to perceived leadership failure.

Falling short of accusing the BQA management of beingresponsible for the decline in Botswana’s education standards, the report notes that “BQA leadership is tired and self serving, the nation is not a priority and now officers a (are) learning and doing the same. Leaders must be more results-oriented and decisive for effective strategy execution.” 

The report is dated November 2017, a month before former Chief Executive Officer Abel Modungwa severed ties with the organisation in December amid claims that he was pushed out. He has since refuted claims that he was fired. He told the media at a farewell party that he didn’t find it necessary to renew his two year contract.

This week, immediate comment from Modungwa was not available as he was reported to have left his mobile phone at home.

Asked if BQA takes responsibility for the findings of the report, the organisation’s Public Relations Communications Manager Selwana Pilatwe said “Botswana Qualifications Authority had been deliberate about conducting the climate survey as one of the initiatives under the 2016-21 BQA Strategy. The Authority therefore take(s) responsibility for the findings and is committed to implement recommendations.”

The report says that there is apparent deviation from strategic goals, or little attention to prioritised goals.

“No clear direction appears to be followed, seems to be subjectively influenced by the Ministry of Education,” the report states.

It found that execution of the strategy is lacking, leaders are not inspiring and motivational. It states that leaders are reactive and not proactive in addressing issues affecting the organisation.

It further states that there is no clear succession plan and most leaders have overstayed.

“Leadership has consistently failed to take decisions when there was an urgent need, until the situation is desperate, leadership is rather weak and disorganised and No evidence of planning for succession, no emphasis on living the values of the organisation, clear deviation from the organisational strategy and objectives,” the report states.

It further states that the leadership is “part of destructive tendencies like favouritism and petty gossip and  leaders (are) not held accountable for non-performance” adding that “The leaders are more reactive than they are proactive, this causes the organization to always be on the run putting out fires that could had been avoided.”

The report also found that the level of confidence in the organisation has plummeted to an all-time low.

The report says “Long outstanding issues have gone unresolved creating a negative climate; unclear management of change in driving execution of the organisational mandate and systems and weak leadership and management practises making the organisation ineffective and unsustainable.” 

On integrity and ethics, the report reveals that “there is too much perceived favouritism in the organisation; decisions and treatment seems unfair and non consistent, leaders demonstrate behaviours that are self serving and lack of requisite support for staff welfare issues and training.”

 Some departments within BQA do not want to share information or knowledge with other individuals in the same organization.

“Organisation still works in silos, there is limited cross team engagement and delivery happening.  Some departments seem to have resources that lie idle whilst others have constraints, lack of balanced delivery (and) slow decision making hampering effective execution of the mandate and strategy,” the report found.

The report further found that managers are ill-equipped at managing change and anticipating issues that may impact work in the future.

“Managers are not promoting cross functional activities and behaviours further extending silo behaviour. Some departmental meetings and engagements are occurring however seem not to be addressing issues relating to welfare and change. Managers are not applying Performance Management practices consistently and having crucial conversations to ensure successful accomplishment of goals,” the report says.

Managers are not providing clear expectations with regards to standards and behaviours required in the organisation.

On performance and recognition, the report says fair treatment and management of performance appear to be weak adding that performance assessments appear to be subjective, do not consider a full year history of performance.

Some respondents indicated lack of clarity on how Performance Management is done in the organisation.

“The slow implementation of the salary structure transition has impacted negatively on staff morale further fuelling suspicions of favouritism. There seems to be lack of clarity on incentive structures and benefits,” observes the report.

It noted that perceptions of favouritism, lack of clear career development, fair

treatment in performance management are impacting individual people confidence in the organisation. The report says the Leadership has not acted in accordance with the requisite behaviours expected by the respondents, giving rise to misalignment and low

levels of commitment.

“The organisational culture is riddled with behaviours of anticipated suspicious intentions (lack of trust), inconsistency in treatment, slow decision making and execution, and management who appear to act on self interests only,” the report says.

Pilatwe said in 2017, BQA engaged LEAD Consulting (the company that compiled the report) to conduct the survey, with the following objectives: to assess the level of employee motivation, to assess the level of employee engagement, productivity and customer

Service and to gauge employee commitment and to determine organizational culture (leadership style, Process of decision making, accountability, openness, work ethics, employee beliefs, behaviors, relationships and team spirit).

She said the survey was also to identify critical gaps in communications that would undermine effective Management of the organization’s core business and the extent to which Communications Systems support employee feedback to their superiors or management and to recommend a plan of action and strategies for the identified gaps.

“This was to assess the current climate, identify actual or perceived challenges. The findings are therefore considered a valuable baseline to establish the level of BQA staff engagement against the desired High Performance Organisation,” she said. 

She said the organisation which took over from Botswana Training Authority and Tertiary Education Council was still in transition.

“It had a challenge to clear backlog from the old systems which to some extent may be perceived to have been a deviation from its published strategic plan. This exercise to a large extent improved quality of education and training as it concluded pending applications and improved access, relevance and quality,” she said.

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