Education Minister: ICT vital in schools

By John Churu, Gaborone, Botswana

The 5th Annual Excellence Awards for the Botswana Examinations Council (BEC) were held Friday the 11th with the rallying call by the Acting Minister of Education and Skills Development Mokgweetsi Masisi for an increased uptake of Information Technology in all schools in the country.

“As Botswana developed, we witnessed a shift in economic focus and that of the requisite skills and training for our economy in relation to the global village,” said Masisi. He explained further saying “We have progressed into a technological age where information is readily available at the click of a button and coming from traditionally unconventional sources such as internet search engines and more relevant to the youth, social networks. Books, newspapers and the like have in most instances been replaced by Google, Bing, Encarta, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to name just a few.’

He said easy access to information necessitates that learners have access to the technology that drives these in all corners of Botswana. “It is exposure to such that has introduced this afternoon’s awareness to the realm of excellence, thus we embrace technology.”

During a previous National School Heads Conference, Masisi said he had mad emphasis of the need for effective instructional leadership “to ensure that appropriate teaching-learning processes take place.” The minister had told the school heads then that it was imperative that they should manage and improve on the leadership skills with a dose of technology at all times.”

Quoting the UN secretary General Ban Ki Moon, Masisi said; “It is not enough for education to produce individuals who can read, write and count. Education must be transformative, practical and able to promote shared values; we want all children to go to school to learn and to become global citizens.” According to the minister, this statement drives home “our conviction that besides academics, students need to develop the necessary attitudes, behaviours as well as soft skills such as problem solving, communication and so forth to grow into global citizens.”  

He said in teaching, career guidance has traditionally been the preserve of the career guidance educators in schools and a critical one at that, necessitating that the counsellors be well informed  and kept abreast of all matters nationally and internationally. “This requires that the councellor also be technologically savvy, keeping abreast of research, current affairs and generally be on top of the game to motivate, inspire and guide learners to achieve their potential.”

President Ian Khama, who was a guest of honour at the event, said the Botswana Examination Council (BEC) was being transformed so that it would turn into a High Performance National Assessment Authority by 2016. “The transformation will not only see BEC into a high performance organisation, it will also produce a national assessment policy that should assist in monitoring learning at various critical points in general education, through programmes such as national assessment to provide general system level feedback and monitoring of learning achievement of different cohorts of learners at different stages in the schooling system.” 

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