Saturday, August 13, 2022

Gov’t urged to ensure RADS participation in decision making

High crime, school drop-outs, unemployment, poverty, HIV/AIDS infection rates and poor agricultural production common in Botswana’s remote area dwellers (RADS) will hinder Basarwa buy-in and ownership of Vision 2016 goals, says the Council Secretary Mpho Makhema.

Addressing San delegates attending a two-day workshop in Kumakwane on ‘How Communities can Embrace Vision 2016 Pillars’, Makhema said based on a 2009 progress report on the vision’s goals, in addition to outstanding challenges, the key argument was to ensure RADS participate in decisions involving their own future in the formation of institutions governing their roles with the Government’s blessing.

Makhema explained that to promote and ensure the buy-in and ownership of the vision goals amongst the San communities, calls for the development of smart partnership strategies, bringing about a new culture and change of attitudes to ensure attainment of quality life through successful implementation of the different programs established by the Government.

“According to the report, under the pillars of an Educated & Informed Nation, the major challenges in RADS with significant populations of Basarwa, were high drop-out rates, low quality of education, use of language medium other than the San mother tongues. Under the pillar of Prosperous, Productive and Innovation Nation, the drawback was that the economy had yet to fully diversify as economic growth was below target. There was also limited arable land, decline in agricultural production and unemployment. The pillar of a Compassionate, Just and Caring Nation was mired by frantic efforts to eradicate poverty and prevent new HIV/AIDS infections. Likewise, failure to eliminate serious and violent crime interrogated the creation of a Safe and Secure Nation.”

She said the biggest challenge, however, was getting Basarwa to agree on a course of action to be taken.

For instance, UB researchers on Government initiated Remote Area Development Programmes argued that most Basarwa were extremely reluctant to become leaders or members of committees for fear of arousing jealousies and resentments in other members of the community. Based on the assumptions of this theory, the strategy deemed reasonably successful has involved efforts to bring Basarwa groups to Land Board meetings and the Tribal Grazing Land Programme allocation, where they were allowed to observe proceedings, listen to ideas and contribute to debates.

Referring to study conducted by UB researcher, Keitseope Nthomang, Makhema said the challenges of high drop-out rates in San communities to ensure capacity-building amongst RADS and that they finish secondary education is that the school curriculum must therefore aim towards effectively helping the youth to achieve university entrance requirements.

The pilot project conducted by the UB and the Scandinavians is the step in the right direction as it began by recruiting non-San students interested in San-related issues. This has to be combined with affirmative action to recruit San students so that after completion of their studies, they may become leaders in their respective communities.

The Southern African San Education forum (SASEF) 2009 report points out some the challenges faces by the Department of Curriculum Development and Evaluation include: “Lack of mother tongue education; lack of third language option, relevance of curriculum, teacher reluctance to teach in remote areas, sacred cultural practices laying dead hands of change on the introduction of new thinking, insurmountable taboos and access to curriculum, low self-esteem and bullying.
Furthermore, exclusion of San culture in recent curriculum and the missing of school by San learners in pursuit of cultural practices and rituals, hammers nails into the coffin of change. Unofficial sources estimate Basarwa has more than 50 dialects hampering effective inter-community networking and dialogue.”

The way forward in the wake of these anomalies involve the introduction of mother tongue-based education to allow for a conducive curriculum. The development of San languages to allow for curriculum development in these languages, applied research to current problems and sharing of research outputs amongst stakeholders as well as the introduction of mobile schools, development of a website and database for information sharing form part of the integral process.

“The smart partnership dialogue approach will help indentify ways of solving challenges encountered and contribute to the development of innovative strategies responding to identified problems. This would enable Government to develop and adopt meaningful appropriate policies and programmes within which the experiences of RADS and their aspirations for development can be followed up so as to increase the likelihood of achieving the ultimate aim of development and attainment of Vision 2016 goals,” she said.


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