Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Productivity should be taught in schools

The analysis of a Botswana Public Employees Union official with a background in education is that in order for Botswana work places to be productive, the right work ethic would have to inculcated in future workers while they are still young and in school.
“The problem with work ethic is that we see it primarily as a workplace issue. But I think it is a socialisation issue and much of the values and behaviours are formed at home, during school-going stages, training institutions and then transferred and reinforced at work. But there is a bigger role played in the pre-employment stage,” says Edward Tswaipe who is BOPEU’s head of education, training and research.
He adds that in an Africa untainted with western influence, parents reinforced the right work ethic in their children, linking it to productive activities.
“They immediately understood the link but our school system delinked production, home and school. We must re-establish the link in the school-to-work transition,” Tswaipe says.
What he asserts hews close to the core tenet of the Education with Production model that was developed by Patrick van Rensburg, the founder of Swaneng Secondary School in Serowe and the Botswana brigades movement. Education with production is basically about incorporating productive work into the curriculum of educational institutions. In one of the less-talked-about dark chapters of Botswana, the government sabotaged this initiative because of Van Rensburg’s political affiliation with the opposition Botswana National Front. Speaking as the chairman of the Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency decades later, former minister, David Magang, said that what the government did with regard to this issue was a grave mistake. In 1981, van Rensburg was honoured with the Right Livelihood Award (the so-called “Alternative Nobel Prize”) “for developing replicable educational models for the Third World majority.”
Useful though Tswaipe’s suggestion may be, there is the question of how such inculcation is to be done. Tswaipe says that this issue was raised at a workshop he attended last year while he was still a lecturer at the Botswana Public Service College.
“Most people said that the curriculum and teacher education are key to achieving that. It means mainstreaming productivity ethos throughout the curriculum. For example, time management as a compulsory module under personal development or career guidance and then reinforced in all learning. The supporting methods would be continuous workshops and the so-called vocationalisation of the curriculum – which is Education with Production expressed in liberal terms,” he says.
The bigger question though is who will do the inculcation because those who manage and work within the education system have acculturated into a work ethic that doesn’t place a high premium on productivity. Even Tswaipe recognises this challenge.
“Yes, the teachers in their current state would be like pouring new wine into old wine skins. The Ministry of Education and Skills Development would first have to deal with the resistance,” he says.

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