The Botswana Examinations Council is paying private institutions used for marking examinations a staggering P4 million annually for use of their facilities for marking, said the BEC Public Relations Officer, Charles Keikotlhae.
Asked why they opt to use private institutions instead of government institutions, which would cost less, Keikotlhae said that the arrangement to use private institutions was started in 2007 following wide spread complaints almost leading to a strike by examiners who were marking in government schools. They complained about conditions of service provided by the then Examinations, Testing and Research Division.
He said the complaints raised included poor ablutions, ventilation, furniture and security during marking at government institutions, adding that the cost of P4m is justified because marking exercises are very sensitive and are labour intensive which demand high levels of mental concentration hence should be conducted under conducive environment.
There are complaints that the BEC is wasting money by paying private institutions instead of using the money to increase the amount teachers are paid for marking examinations. Besides that they say it is not clear how institutions that are being used for the exercise are selected as there has been no tendering process for that.
Another complaint related to the issue is that the same facilities are used every year.
“I have been marking in one school for the past five years; I wonder if this is the only school that has the necessary facilities or the school is just being given preference by those responsible,” said a secondary school teacher who declined to be named.