Sunday, February 5, 2023

We need to overhaul the national curriculum

We are approaching that time of the year when there will be an expression of collective revolt and disgust at the quality of results that the country’s education system continues to produce.

This will start with the Primary School Leaving Examination due out in weeks culminating with what used to be called Cambridge O’levels.

The truth of the matter is that such disgusting results extend all the way to tertiary education.

At that level, it is the employers who have to bear the brunt of what they have to deal with on a daily basis as they try to train many of the young graduates who are effectively untrainable.

To get the necessary overhaul of our education system, Batswana should not limit their anger to a short period following the publishing of the results.

Batswana should all along demand a change in the way their children are taught.

That demand should extend to the way students are examined, graded and or assessed.

The kind of reforms that are needed to turn Botswana education system around will be expensive.

They will also take time.

More than anything they will need all hands on the deck for such reform to bear fruitful results.

It goes without saying that there will also have to be political goodwill and a buy in from such diverse interests like students, teachers, trade unions and ministry leadership.

As a start, our schools cannot start the way they did prior to the pandemic. The pandemic was a life changing experience. It was a disruptor. And above all it taught us to do things differently.

The pandemic has inflicted a lot of damage in our schools.

Going forward that damage should be repaired.

And repairing it could very easily become an integral part of the much needed reforms.

As currently constituted, much of the curriculum taught in much of government schools do not prepare students of the harsh realities of life after school, much less of demands that workplace will later on place on them.

Botswana’s education system has for too long now emphasized on academic qualifications.

This has been done at a costly neglect of Vocational education.

That should be corrected as a matter of urgency.

This neglect has damaged the lives of too many young Batswana who were forced by societal pressures to follow subjects they did not like.

Or even if they  liked, many young people joined the ranks of unemployment because of the courses they took when there were other better options out there.

Funding for Vocational education should be increased.

Technical education is the future.

We need to start thinking of producing more engineers and less lawyers, for example.

Government should consider introducing more technical; subjects at secondary school.

Funding of Vocational education is of utmost importance because Government needs to immediately deal with an overhang of esteem disparity between Vocational and Academic education from the past.

Whether we like it or not, the world is far ahead on the road of digitization.

Botswana cannot wait any longer.

The best way to catchup is to equip all our schools, starting from pre-schools with computers and related digital gadgets for student use.

At the moment Botswana government is doing pretty well with connecting broadband across the country.

That process should be fast-tracked.

Not only that, the speed of the internet should be enhanced.

The country still has too many schools that are not connected to the grid.

Government should seriously consider the option of using solar for some of these schools.

There is simply no way Botswana Government can seriously talk of a knowledge based economy unless we have a world class education system that produces competitive graduates that are ready to compete globally.

It is all well and good to be disgusted by school results.

But we should as a people channel that anger towards long term fixing of the broken system.

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