Wednesday, January 26, 2022

From disparity to prosperity

Moshupa Study Group is a highly transformational project that has turned over 100 formerly stranded youth into tertiary going students. From being a Pilot Project that was meant to assist out of school youth in Moshupa to get back to their feet, it has started paying more dividends than envisioned.

Not only academic participants got the opportunity to enrol on the project. Some in the creative genre-dress making, horticulture, pottery, electronics and others are also studying for Diplomas while others are even attempting entrepreneurship. With mysterious results that saw participants elevated from grade D to A* the project attracted even government employees in the village to retake some subjects to improve their grades.

According to its initiator, Dr Setumile Morapedi, the idea to come with it struck her mind during Moshupa talent show. She discovered that many talents existed there that needed boosting and nurturing. After presenting her hypothesis to the University’s office of research and development and carried out the research she was granted facilities at Moshupa Senior Secondary and Diratsame Junior High school.

Regarding strategies she and her team applied for such sterling results, Dr Morapedi said “The first strategy we found viable was that of portfolio. Participants had to work as a team. Each participant in a given group would be given the task to perform for the assignment to be successful. In case five students have assignments they would team up for research, reading and presentation. The absence of a member at presentation time means something lacked.”

She said that this forces other members to search and bring the member on board. A sample form was even introduced on how the group work was marked. It worked. They also encouraged teachers to always scrutinize the participants so as to provide counseling in case they deemed it necessary.

She is even impressed by the fact there are some 14, among her participants who have been enrolled to study sign language with the Wits University. For cost cutting, Dr Morapedi said, they are going to be taught here in Botswana by the Wits University lecturers. Another reason for this is that sign language also has first language. That is, the sign language the deaf people within a locality use. That is why, she said deaf people in Botswana have shown that they do not understand signs used by sign language users in Botswana who were taught in South Africa-they are different. There is even variation in signs in a single country like Botswana. She is also optimistic that of the 60 participants who registered for the 2012 examinations, 40 will get admitted, given the 35 points and above ceiling the Students Placement department has set for sponsorship.

The challenges of the project cited are negative political interference. Since the project’s patron is the Minister of Presidential Affairs, Mokgweetsi Masisi, some of his critics once derailed some students. They told students to quit saying the project won’t take them anywhere as it was just a political strategy. She had to follow the students to bring them back on track. It has even took a different trend when even people who originally knew the project decided to spoil it; an issue that forced her to reshuffle her staff at the project at some point.

Thereafter she advertised positions of tutors and the structure for the project was set up: Overseer, Deputy Overseer, Assistant overseer; Four Senior Tutors and tutors. The project started in 2011 and this is its third and last year.

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