The value of education to this country cannot, and should not be underestimated, Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, Edwin Batshu told parents and students at this year’s silver jubilee and prize giving ceremony of Goldmine Junior Secondary School in Francistown.
He said that the ministry of education was awarded the largest percentage of 28.1 percent of this year’s national budget, or P10.3 billion which is an increase from P9.8 billion and P8.6 billion in the previous successive years.With the theme of the ceremony being, “stakeholder involvement: the key to sustainable academic excellence,” Batshu said it is almost unimaginable how the event could have been a success without the collaboration and cooperation between the parents, school alumni, business community and the city council. He encouraged parents to take responsibility for both their children and the education of the nation.
The minister encouraged the students of Goldmine JSS to overcome whatever shortfalls they may be faced with as he quoted the great Nelson Mandela who once said, “Education is the great engine of human development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, the son of a mine worker can become the head of a mine, and a child of farm worker can become a president of a great nation.” Batshu added that it has been the government’s objective since independence to ensure that Batswana get education.
He cited efforts made by the government such as Non-Formal Education which later became known as Out of School education, which catered for those who missed their chance of primary education. And the Back to school programme that catered for school drop outs. As well as distance learning which catered for those already in formal employment.
The minister pointed out that education has indeed grown, from a literacy rate of below 30percent at independence to now a literacy rate of 83 per cent. Batshu commended teachers in the country saying they have remained the pillars of the nation. “The commitment they have shown over time is immeasurable, they have dedicated their time and skill and even life to the education of this country,” he said. And despite all the good work, Batshu acknowledges that there are indeed challenges teachers face and are forced to work with in their profession.
He noted that he is aware of the critical shortage of staff houses whereby unmarried and married staff are forced to share houses. And classrooms, in the case where 6 classrooms have been condemned and are vacant because of poor conditions, some lessons take place outside. Furniture and other critical resources such as books, computers and equipment for practical subjects are in shortage.
Member of Parliament for Francistown South, Wynter Mmolotsi added that parents should certainly partake in their children’s education saying some children’s priorities are misplaced which leads them to failing. He gave a brief history of one of America’s greatest president, Abraham Lincoln saying he had failed many times. But eventually through perseverance and never giving up became the president of America. He told the story to the gathered students as a way of motivating them to persevere, “Dream Big,” he said. Mmolotsi also highlighted the dwindling pass rate the country has experienced over the past eight years.
He said every year the pass rate declines and it has become a national crisis. He also highlighted the bad working conditions teachers have to work with, and said it negatively affects the pass rate as an unhappy teacher leads to unhappy students and poor results.