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TROUBLED PLACE OF LEARNING: Lempu Junior Secondary School continues to be haunted by a mysterious disease and parents want their children out of the school. Meanwhile, Kweneng Regional Director Benson Rauwe (right) confirms they are facing serious problems but continue to engage parents in order to find a lasting solution.

Kweneng Regional Education Director Benson Rauwe has admitted that they are running helter skelter trying to find solutions to an uproar unfolding in his region.Parents residing in the catchment areas of Salajwe village are said to be furious and demanding that authorities should not dare place their children at Lempu Junior Secondary School for the next academic year of 2020.

Lempu is a secondary school that was hit by a condition known as ‘Mass Hysteria’ early this year. More than 100 students were admitted at Scottish Livingstone Hospital in Molepolole said to be suffering from the bizarre condition. The condition made children wobbly while others could not walk. Doctors are yet to establish the cause of the condition or find anything that can lead them to a cure. Meanwhile students are reported to be battling with the condition to this day.

Parents are not ready to gamble with their children’s future and are suggesting that while the government is busy establishing the cause their children should be sent elsewhere. Others have even gone an extra mile by transferring their children from the school with the intention of distancing them entirely from the mass hysteria scourge.The Midweek Sun visited the regional director in Molepolole this week, who openly admitted that they are in a painful situation as more than 90 percent of parents have instructed them to place their children in neighbouring villages of Letlhakeng or Takatokwane.

“Lempu has been admitting students from the villages of Monwane, Khudumelapye, Malwelwe, Kaudwane and Sorilatholo however parents are no longer comfortable with their children schooling there. “This means that only the people of Salajwe are left to deal with the condition,” Rauwe said.He said the school had 622 pupils and more than 50 teachers but as of this past Tuesday, information gathered was that since the school reopened last month, 95 students had not returned to school. “30 of those are in Form 3, 27 in Form 2 classes while 35 are Form 1s and it should be noted that they are all girls,” he said. Rauwe said that according to a personal investigation he carried out, it does not seem like the students will return to school anytime soon.

Their health he said is seemingly deteriorating and their hands seemingly stiff now. It was under such circumstances that they took a decision that the affected students will be readmitted next year. Nevertheless he is worried that Lempu School could become a white elephant since everybody wants out. “We are expecting a worst case scenario because I do no see parents easily having a change of heart. “However we are busy refurbishing the school and hoping that parents will let their children school in Salajwe,” he said. He said they have no answers yet about the condition but myths thrown around are that ghosts are haunting the school while others believe the school is cursed. He said the affected students told them that they saw small looking creatures described as Thokolosi while others said that donkeys and goats appear at the windows at night.

“Those are all myths and we cannot really know if there are some truths to the stories because nobody can corroborate their claims,” Rauwe said.

The Midweek Sun understands that Lempu School Head Barulaganye Moseki has been redeployed and the government is waiting to bring a new headmaster at the school. It is said that the parents were not in a negotiating mood as they requested that Moseki be removed from the school. They were dead serious about it and the ministry had to act quickly. Two other officials at the school are said to have also walked out. However, Rauwe remained cagey saying the matter was at management level and could not comment on it.

Meanwhile the Kweneng region might as well prepare for the worst as the condition has allegedly spread to Mphuthe School in Letlhakeng. According to reliable sources at the school, two students recently showed signs of the bizarre condition. However, the headmaster Meshack Sechele and his team are said to have dealt with the matter swiftly and there are no signs of the condition spreading. Sources at the school said that the headmaster has been talking to the children and it remains a mystery what he said to them that made the condition not to spread like in Lempu. Some even wonder if all the children are affected or some of them are just attention seekers.

The affected pupils are said to have recently transferred from Lempu School. When visited at his school, Sechele and his deputy Kedumetse Mokganele said that they could not comment on the matter. They admitted that they have been seeing many parents coming to them asking that their children come to school in Mphuthe. “It will mean admitting a large number here but we do not have facilities to accommodate a large number in Mphuthe and we are hopeful that the region will find a solution,” Sechele said.

In Khudumelapye, a village just 22 km away from Letlhakeng and said to have a high number of parents wanting nothing to do with Lempu School, The Midweek Sun crew was chased away by the leaders, led by Kgosi Othusitse Mosimane.Kgosi and his advisors accompanied by Khudumelapye Primary School Head and other officers said to be from the clinic said that they do not want to speak to the media without the involvement of the government.

“Please leave our village, nobody informed us of your visit and if you stubbornly do interviews here and you are attacked or something, don’t come back here crying,” they said. Interestingly, this publication learnt that the village leaders are allegedly the ones hellbent on ensuring that their children be removed from Lempu. Which could only suggest that they have also turned their backs on Lempu School.

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Youth lament slow pace towards ICPD commitments



Young people representing Botswana at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD25) in Nairobi, Kenya last week have expressed disappointment at the slow pace at which governments are moving towards achieving ICPD25 ideals.

Trevor Oahile, a youth advocate and student at the University of Botswana participated at the Nairobi Summit to highlight on Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) of men and boys.
Oahile hosts a radio show sponsored by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Don’t Get It Twisted on Yarona FM. The show deals with issues that affect boys and men. Oahile participated in a panel discussion at the Summit on the involvement of men and boys in accelerating the ICPD promise.

He is of the view that countries needs to work together to end violence that is perpetuated by harmful gender norms that are antagonistic to progress towards the ideals of the ICPD agenda. “Botswana government and private sector are still challenged to invest a lot of money into implementing their commitments,” Oahile said, adding that Comprehensive Sexual Education on the other hand has to be rolled out to every school in the country.

“We also acknowledge that it is important to avoid stereotypes that impact decisions that people make. Men and boys often avoid certain services because they are known to be for girls and women,” Oahile said. Millicent Sethaile was at the Summit as a youth ambassador from an organisation called Her Voice, which funds and offers grants to smaller organisations that advocate for SRHR in communities. In her view the summit was significant because it was an opportunity for countries including Botswana to make commitments to fulfill the unfinished business of the ICPD made 25 years ago.

“What struck me the most is that I realised that Botswana has a long way to go to achieve the commitments she set for herself.”Sethaile also observed that the four commitments including to strengthen access to family planning, the reduction of maternal deaths, reduction of Gender Based Violence, provision of quality, timely and disaggregated data are activities that were already in the pipeline and have been discussed before. “I believe we now have to come up with actionable items that we can work on so that we can effectively deal with current challenges.”
For 18 year old University student Michelle Simon, the Nairobi Summit was a reality check, an opportunity to reflect and map the way forward.

“I realised that there are so many challenges, especially in Africa concerning SRHR,” Simon said. She also realised that Botswana has a lot of catching up to do to implement the commitments of the ICPD. “I also realised that issues including youth in power were left out.” Botho Mahlunge on the other hand comes back from the Summit with a conclusion that there are a lot of predicaments that young people find themseles in across the African continent including GBV and teenage pregnancy.

Programmes need to be intensified to ensure implementation. Mahlunge is also of the view that there is minimum youth engagement on issues that affet them the most. “Young people are tired of always convening about the same issues. It’s time to see the outcomes of Summits and Conferences,” Mahlunge said. She advised the youth to also be willing to engage when the oppotunity avails itself and to take up programmes that have been set to help them. Mahlunge said that failure to educate our young people on sexuality “is the reason so many girls are getting pregnant and infected with HIV.”

She said the continued exclusion of young people in rural areas from sexual and reproductive health and rights discussion is also to blame for the prevailing state of affairs. “Young people in rural areas are completely vulnerable. They are so far removed from the little information and services available to young people in urban areas,” Mahlunge observed.

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Safe communities for our women and girls – Moalosi



Gender Based Violence (GBV) has been identified as one of the critical issues that impede women, girls and men from fully enjoying their human rights and unleashing their potential. Delivering his State of the National Address (SONA) on Monday, President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi said government is concerned about the rising statistics of those affected.

The National Relationship Study of 2018 revealed that 37 percent of women and 21 percent of men have suffered some form of violence in their lifetime, which occurred within Intimate Partner Relationships.

To address this problem, President Masisi says government will intensify the implementation of the National Strategy Towards Ending GBV. The Strategy focuses on the comprehensive care and support of GBV survivors; the Prevention of new GBV incidences; Strengthening national capacity to address GBV; Improving efficiency and effectiveness of the coordination and management of the national GBV response; and Strategic information and knowledge management on GBV.

Just last week, Botswana Non-Governmental Organisations represented at the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25, committed to ensuring that all is done to end GBV.CEO of Botswana Gender Based Violence Prevention and Support Centre, Lorato Moalosi who was presenting on behalf of Botswana NGOs said having reflected on the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) agenda since 1994 and on what has changed on Sexual GBV, they are equally disturbed by increasing levels of SGBV in Botswana communities.

Her desire is to empower communities to come up with their own solutions to end SGBV. Moalosi told participants at the Summit that NGOs in Botswana commit to contracting and ensuring robust community engagement, including starting indigenous and disability movements on SGBV to galvanise and mobilise communities to prevent and respond to SGBV. Their plan is to also develop sustained gender transformative programmes that mainstream HIV and GBV, as well as to expand reach and coverage of services and create community safe spaces for the hard to reach, as well as improve services in urban areas.

“We commit to utilising social contracting and ensure NGOs lead in the prevention of SGBV and in the response to ending SGBV at community level,” Moalosi said, adding that they also commit to mainstreaming gender equality conversations and break the silence on SGBV.

“We can no longer hold back. Our communities have to be safe for our women and girls,” she said. The Nairobi Summit on ICPD25 that concluded hursday last week in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi represents a renewed, re-energised vision and community working together to act and deliver.

“Together, we will make the next ten years a decade of action and results for women and girls, keeping their rights and choices at the centre of everything we do,” said UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem.

Denmark’s Special Envoy for the ICPD25, Ambassador Ib Petersen said there will be no ICPD50 because women and girls around the world have waited long enough to have rights and choices.

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