Saturday, January 22, 2022

Gov’t sidelines teachers in exam crisis probe

The recently commissioned committee of inquiry into the 2010 examinations crisis has already caused an uproar, with teachers’ unions crying foul that they were sidelined when the inquiry’s terms of reference were set.

The inquiry was enacted after Francistown South Member of Parliament, Wynter Mmolotsi, called for a commission of inquiry to investigate what led to the exams crisis.

Teachers boycotted invigilation duties after negotiations with the Ministry of Education and Skills Development and Botswana Examinations Council, over invigilation fees, broke down.

Education Minister Pelonomi Venson ÔÇôMoitoi balked at the idea of a commission of inquiry, insisting that she would conduct internal investigations.

She recently instituted a committee of inquiry, led by former Permanent Secretary, Keetla Masogo, to investigate the exams scandal.

“The inquiry must establish the events leading to the conduct of the 2010 examinations, determine the extent to which the different stakeholders contributed towards the impasse, establish the appropriateness of their actions and recommend a sustainable solution to avoid a repeat of the debacle,” reads part of the committee’s terms of reference.

The committee will achieve their assignment through kgotla meetings, interviews, public presentations and document analysis.

Sunday Standard is informed that the committee has started operating, and has since held kgotla meetings in Serowe and Ramotswa.

In both meetings, they neither consulted teachers nor sought their input. Teachers had to attend the Serowe and Ramotswa kgotla meetings incognito as they wanted to make substantive submissions.

“This inquiry is just a dress rehearsal exercise meant to hoodwink Batswana into thinking that government is doing something about this crisis,” said BOSETU National Organizing Secretary, Ompatile Modise.

He said teachers were never consulted when the inquiry’s terms of reference were set. It is even more surprising, he said, that the committee would, instead of consulting the three major players in the exams crisis (teachers MoESD and BEC), rush to seek advice from parents in kgotla meetings.

Modise said the terms of reference are ambiguous and not instructive as they only seek to establish what transpired and for the committee to make recommendations on what should be done in future to avoid a repeat of the exams crisis.

Modise also accused Venson-Moitoi of protecting herself and BEC officers, as the inquiry does not seek to identify who the culprits are.

“Students’ futures have been destroyed irretrievably. Some people slept on the job and they have to be taken to task. But the inquiry does not seek to establish who the culprits are and what action should be taken against them. Who is Venson-Moitoi protecting?” asked Modise.

He pointed an accusing finger at Venson-Moitoi, saying she is the one who precipitated the crisis in September 2010 when she ordered that talks between unions and BEC should be halted as they were not bearing fruit.

“We warned that a crisis is looming and they ignored us. Now the very people who should be under investigation are controlling the committee of enquiry. They are protecting themselves,” he said.
He expressed concern at government’s tendency to abuse the kgotla to drive their agenda and push through ill-fated policies that do not have the interests of Batswana at heart.

Political pundits have opined that the inquiry is a slap in the face for President Ian Khama’s government, as they all along maintained that there was no problem in the 2010 exams.

MoESD spokesperson Nomsa Zuze had not responded to the Sunday Standard questionnaire by the time of going to press, while Venson-Moitoi’s number rang unanswered.

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