Tuesday, January 18, 2022

UB task force recommends supplementary examinations

A task force has recommended that University of Botswana (UB) reinstate the terminated supplementary examinations in order to improve student’s academic standing.

The task force spearheaded by Prof. Gabatshwane Tsayang has submitted its findings to the UB Senate for endorsement in the upcoming meeting whose date is yet to be confirmed.

The 74-page report leaked to Sunday-Standard reads, “The Task-Force concluded that it is beneficial to have supplementary examinations in a semesterised system. Therefore the Task-Force recommends that supplementary examinations be introduced.”

According to the task-force report, the main question that the commission needed to address was to find out the views of the UB stakeholders on supplementary exams. The terms of reference which guided them included; to conduct an inclusive consultation with all faculties, academic and administrative support departments, academic advisory committees and students regarding their views on supplementary exams.

Central to those terms of reference was to determine the practical logistical advantages and disadvantages of introducing supplementary examinations in an academic system based on semester-long course offerings at UB. The commission was also tasked with assessing the impact of introducing supplementary exams in all operations and activities of UB throughout all seasons of the academic calendar.

This included but not limited to; the Almanac, maintenance of classrooms, attachments, internships, teaching practice, research and publications, staffing, budget, timetables etc.

In so doing the report explains that it had to benchmark, collect and review information regarding supplementary exams policies of other universities which use semesterization system in Africa, America, Europe and many more.

Hence benchmarking was done in Birmingham, Bristol and Lancaster (UK); Missori State University and UCLA (USA); Bond University, University of New Castle, Monash (Australia); University of Cape Town, Pretoria, KwaZulu Natal, Witwatersrand and Johannesburg (South- Africa); University of Zimbabwe, University of Namibia and University of Swaziland.

The research was a result of the furore that erupted last year between the students and UB Management following the termination of such a dispensation of exams. The result was temporary closure of the university.

But the task force warned that, “It should, however be taken into consideration that supplementary exams should not be seen as the only solution to the problem of poor academic performance by students. Improved student work ethics have an important role to play in the improvement of success rates.”

It was on that basis that the Task-force recommended that the introduction of supplementary examinations must not be a free hand-out but be subject to certain conditions which among others include: qualification of a 50% Continuous Assessment (CA) score mark; a minimum of 80% in a particular course to reduce truancy and last but not least, to allow the student to only supplement a maximum of two courses per semester.

Reached for comment, the Director of Public Affairs, Mhitshane Reetsang said “The appointment of the task-force by Senate depicts and confirms UB’s unparalleled commitment to addressing student’s academic affairs.”

She revealed that the report will be discussed fully in a formally constituted senate meeting soon after graduation.

Reetsang added that “If the report is successfully endorsed, it is advisable for students to do their part: studying instead of reluctantly basking in the glory of re-sits. The problem of failure rate must be addressed in its totality.”

What would perhaps be unpleasant news to students is the recommendation which calls students to pay for the exams. “The cost of supplementary examinations should be borne by the student and staff should be remunerated for marking examinations,” the report states categorically in its 8th recommendation.

THE UB SRC minister of academics, Larona Selala says, though they are uncomfortable with paying for exams, they are generally happy with the outcome of the survey. “We are generally happy with the findings, they suits well with our desires. We are over the moon and humbled by the UB’s decision to bow down to pressure and accede to our uncompromising demands. We boldly applaud them for the gesture. This is what we call inclusive governance,” said Selala.

The UBSRC Vice-President, Tiro Diepo, said, “we hope that the UB will not repeat its hostile tendency of setting aside, manipulating or reversing the findings to suit their preferences. Mind you, they did that with the 411 student bar findings.”

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