Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU) have called for a ‘National Educational Pitso’ to address issues that lead to poor final examination results in the country. BOSETU blames the declining performance results of Botswana General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) on government and the ministry of Basic Education.
For more than five years now, BGCSE and Junior Certificate (JC) results have been registering poor performance. BGCSE results released last week show St Joseph’s College as the only school that has scored above 40 percent of candidates attaining 5C’s or better for the past two years. It performed better among other schools in 2018 exams with the top record of 47.75 percent, while the lowest performing school is Goodhope Senior Secondary School with a pass mark of 10.92 percent which places it as the last performing school of the 34 senior secondary schools in Botswana.
Botswana Examinations Council (BEC) Executive Secretary, said at the media briefing that a total number of 32 470 candidates wrote the 2018 examination showing a decrease of 12.8 percent in candidature compared to the 2017 cohort of 37251. He said that the results marked a very slight improvement of 0.5 percent based on 5Cs or better pass rate. In 2017 it was 24.1 percent while this year, it is 24.6 percent. Deputy President of BOSETU, Mogomotsi Motshegwe says the declining results for the past years are not healthy for a country that aspires to become a knowledge-based economy. He says while the budget allocates a large share of funds to the education ministry, the results do not correspond.
The union blames this on misplaced priorities. He cites the imbalance in teacher-student ratio as one factor that impinges on the teacher’s ability to observe all the students and give them attention to help them excel. “A class of students can be occupied by up to 52 students!”This further hinders the opportunity for tutorials and remedial teaching that could help improve students’ results. “During practical subjects like Home Economics and Design and Technology, where students are expected to be hands-on to learn the skills, even the time can just pass out without all the students doing their practicals due to the larger number in class because it is just too much for the teacher to demonstrate for each of them,” said Motshegwe.
Automatic promotion of students to another level is another factor leading to poor final exams results. “This causes such situations like those in which students are at junior school yet they cannot write their own names. “Standard four attainment tests used to be taken into consideration but nowadays students just proceed despite their pass mark,” he said. He also mentioned lack of resources in schools as a cause of poor performance because students cannot learn efficiently.
“There are no books in schools and this forces students to share at school which means they can’t carry textbooks home where their parents can also take part in their school work,” Motshegwe said emphasising that this compromises the quality of education in the country. “There is no way students can be ready for work when our education system is mostly based on theory than practicality. This is why graduates can’t get jobs. This should be worked on from primary level to tertiary level,” he said.
He also lamented the absence of syllabus for brigade institutions where a lot of students apply to when they do not do well in BGCSE. “The Ministry should scrutinise issues like this one,” he said. BOSETU suggests that there should be a ‘National Educational Pitso’ to enable all relevant stakeholders to help with research and serious recommendations.