SA educators to learn from Botswana

A six member delegation of the South African Parliament Portfolio Committee on Basic Education is in Botswana for a five-day visit to learn best education practices. 

Briefing the Ministry of Education and Skills Development management on July 24, the leader of the delegation, Ms Malgas, said though Botswana is a smaller economy, there is a lot that South Africa can learn from Botswana in terms of best education practices.

Ms Malgas said South Africa is a young democracy having gained independence in 1994 and that it is willing to learn how Botswana managed to offer quality education in both primary and secondary schools.

She told the ministry’s management which comprised of deputy permanent secretaries and departmental directors that Botswana has reached a stage of stability earlier than South Africa as its education system dates back to 1966.

The South African delegation, she said has been impressed and would like to establish how the Botswana education system manages to be among the highest in Africa in literacy and numeracy.

According to the African market and analysis rating, Kenya is leading while Botswana is on third position whilst South Africa is ranked ninth especially in subjects such as Science and Mathematics.

Some teachers have a serious knowledge and content gap in the Science and Mathematics subjects, Ms Malgas said, adding that lack of resources in the teaching of those subjects are also a challenge.

She highlighted that South Africa is also faced with a lot of challenges such as school drop outs especially at or before Grade 9, coupled with teenage pregnancy among students.

She said South Africa prioritises basic education as well as teacher welfare and are therefore looking at enhancing the process of development in that area.

South Africa, she said is faced with a challenge of lack of commitment to education among some learners as well as some teachers, hence their visit to Botswana to learn how to create interest among students and teachers as this would improve learner outcomes and achievements.

For his part, deputy permanent secretary for Regional Operations in the Ministry of Education and Skills Development,  Mr David Ratsatsi said though Botswana has a matured education system from the times of independence, it still faces some turbulence yet still strong.

Mr Ratsasi said, instead of dividing the ministry into two, like in South Africa where they have the Ministry of Basic Education and Higher Education, they rather enlarged portfolios of management and have four deputy permanent secretaries responsible for managing various departments under the same ministry.

To develop interest among students and teachers on numeracy and literacy, Mr Ratsatsi said the ministry has long resolved to have Mathematics, Science as well as English and Setswana Languages as core subjects.

This, he said has led to students’ compulsorily taking these subjects from primary to secondary education and thus raising the level of knowledge on numeracy and literacy among Batswana students.

With regards to the challenge of school drop outs, Mr Ratsatsi highlighted that the situation is largely experienced in rural areas and the ministry has built hostels in these primary schools.

He said the ministry does not only provide accommodation for the children but it also introduced a Hostel mother system, where they bring in an elderly person to take care of the children.

The delegation will also learn how to improve the quality of education, investigate the alignment of Education Acts and departmental policies with the success of their education system.

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