Thursday, February 9, 2023

‘Schools don’t prepare students for business world’

Millions of pula are going to waste as students who study Commerce and Accounting at both junior and senior secondary schools leave school completely unprepared for the business world.

That is the suggestion of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor on the basis of information provided by its Botswana team at the University of Botswana.

For some two decades now, schools have been offering Commerce and Accounting but the GEM report says that, “Experts felt that education and training were not good enough to support entrepreneurship development in Botswana.”

Those experts interpret this to mean that, “the education system in Botswana, from primary to secondary schools, failed to give necessary attention to entrepreneurship and new firm creation.”

A Commerce and Accounting teacher at a junior secondary school said that while the syllabus covers entrepreneurship, the total time allotted to it is only two weeks.

While the teacher said that students are required to do a project in which they identify a real-life problem in their community and apply a workable solution to it, she did not know of any student who became an entrepreneur after leaving school.

Two academics, Burman Sithole of UB and Mutendwahothe Lumadi of the University of South Africa, have considered “pedagogical challengesbesetting Business Studies teachers” in Botswana secondary schools and made grim findings.

They found that while the use of ICT in teaching is fairly common in the teaching of Business Studies in Botswana’s junior secondary schools, the use of the internet is hampered by the shortage of ICT facilities, particularly computer laboratories and that “unsurprisingly, internet connections are available in only a limited number of places in many schools.”

Four teachers said that the lack of resources such as computers meant that they could not provide their students with concrete experiences of the business concepts and practices used in the real world.

Some other respondents said that as a result of this, they were unable to incorporate new trends in the business world such as e-commerce into what they taught.

Sithole and Lumadi found that teachers were also unable to strike a balance between theory and practice.

Five respondents said that even when computers are available in schools, they are not enough to go round and Business Studies teachers are forced to “fight” over these computers with their colleagues who teach Computer Awareness.

Six interviewees said that students perceived Business Studies, especially the Accounting component, to be “difficult.”

As a result, most students opted to do Commerce and Office Procedures rather than Commerce and Bookkeeping/Accounting.

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