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JCE results: Hands off our teachers!

Joe Brown

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To whom it may concern

The debate on the recently released Junior Certificate Examination results has taken the same pattern as has been the case over the years. The quality of the results themselves has not changed either – if anything, overall performance has continued to decline drastically.

Yet I find it curious and somewhat strange to always hear analysts blame the poor quality of results entirely on shortage of books at schools, prohibitive student-teacher ratio, automatic progression, reduced contact time between teachers and learners and general shortage of human and infrastructural resources. In fact, every year after the release of the results, be it PLSE, JCE or BGCSE results, one is certain to see analysts come up with the same old boring ‘education system’ rhetoric. Poor education system blah blahblah! Never anything else.

I do agree that the education system is PARTLY to blame and needs some revamp as I will share later, but I find it strange that many of us who have achieved academically in life and those of us who blame the education system, have also gone through the same education system to be where we are. And, incidentally, during our times as primary and secondary students, when our colleagues had performed badly in the final exams, analysts of the time still blamed the education system for their failure.

And often, those who blame the education system will never even come up with a solution – some form of advice on what the government can specifically do to change the status quo. They never even elaborate on exactly what area of the education system needs to be changed. Government too, has continued to pour scorn on this widely parroted rhetoric. Strangely, rarely do we ever hear of any analysis that gives insight into the nucleus of the learning process and the attendant dynamics. There is perhaps a serious need to start talking about the issues of behaviour and general conduct with respect to the three important stakeholders in the education web itself – the parent, the student and the teacher.

Do students exert enough effort in their own education? Do these students arrive at school with the right frame of mind desirous of participating in the learning process? Do teachers themselves have full commitment towards their role of imparting knowledge and facilitating learning? Is it all of the teachers who really have the passion to facilitate learning? Are the parents themselves bothered about what happens with their children when both at home and at school? Do parents play the desired role in ensuring their children are ready for learning? There has in the past been a temptation to want to blame teachers for the consistency in these poor results. There is talk of teachers who are lazy and do not even give feedback to learners for the entire period of their studies.

There are teachers who just do not care about the profession they serve and just go to school for the heck of it while awaiting another pay day. Such cases do exist and are unfortunate, but at the end of it all, it is the student and their parent that have to take more responsibility for their education. The teacher and the school system should be there to facilitate, to guide and to aid learning. You see, Batswana tota rona re loilwe. We are a spoilt nation and without any effort of our own, we always want to point a finger at Government when anything goes wrong.

Kana I was shocked maloba when a farmer blamed the death of his cows on Government after nine of them were razed down by a haulage truck en route to Zambia. Government’s fault here was that the barrier fence along the road is not being maintained and because elephants have floored the fence, his cattle wandered into the highway where they would eventually die.

I mean really?
And this is a guy who only visits the cattlepost twice in a year and has a herd man whose bi-annual pay is a pair of used worn-out trousers, worn-out shirts, worn-out shoes, a 50kg bag of maize meal and cartons of Chibuku. No enclosures or feed bays or any feeds for his cattle whatsoever, and depends on rain to create food for his animals. And such is the mentality that we carry around when things somehow go wrong.

We never look at ourselves and the opportunities we are given to eke out a life. We are quick to blame someone else for our self-inflicted mishaps. Even as Government is spending a considerable amount of money on educating our children, we still can’t do our little bit, even if it is just time to be there for our children when needed. For your information, for the financial year 2012/13, government was spending P17 340 on each Junior Secondary School child per annum. I use these old figures because for now they are the ones available to me. Imagine how much that is today, eight years later. And we were later asked to contribute only 5 percent in cost sharing, which many of us are still not doing. What more do we, parents, want? As I say this, several parents are up in arms protesting their children’s JCE results, yet they never cared one little bit to know how their children were doing at school for the three full years they were there.

Despite the efforts of the teachers to get them to share in the responsibility of educating their own children, the parents just stayed away and carried on with their own lives. Even where the parents were told of the wayward behaviour of their children in schools, they could not be bothered, only labelling the poor teachers ‘lazy’ and failing to do their job! Now the chickens have duly come home to roost. What should be the shock now? Those who blame the education system are coming out now after the results are released as usual, to vent their ‘frustrations’ when they never bothered to educate parents on the role they need to play in the education of their own children. And it baffles me why these analysts and activists blame the same education system that has seen them become

who they are today. And why be selective when we blame the education system? Is the education system only bad when analysing results of those who failed and there is nothing to say about the same education system when looking at the results of those who have done well? Why do other children do well under the same education system? And this is where I believe we need to be going in our analysis of the results – not just to keep saying ‘poor education system’ without really pointing to the real issues.

Unfortunately the trends in the modern school are those of unruly students who themselves seem to lack self-motivation and who do not seem to know why they are in school in the first place.
And I again blame the parents. History has shown that the performance results of a motivated and committed student are not always dependent on the conduct of their teacher or the situation in the school they attend.

In the recent past, Kagiso Senior Secondary School produced the best student in the country when the school was itself the last in the perking order. And this kid, because I know, did not come from a wealthy family – just committed parents to the child’s education. In 2018, Moeding College was ranked Number 20 in line but had a student with 10 A-stars. Such students bear testimony to the fact that with the right motivation and support from parents the status of a school or the character of a teacher counts for nothing. In the end, the behaviour of students and their attitudes towards learning count for more than just the issue of the system or resources.

An effort is therefore needed from the child, and there is no better place to cultivate such attitudes than at home. The parents should be the frontline of everything; they should set the right tone and give their child a proper atmosphere to perform. When the child returns from school, they should seek to know what it is the child learnt and set out to assist in the learning at every opportunity.
Unfortunately not many parents care – which is why we have had cases of students who would skip school for weeks and the parent would not even be aware.

Parental involvement as well as self-motivation and personal responsibility on the part of the students are sadly lacking in our schools today, leading many students towards not turning in assignments and blowing off tests. Learning involves give and take from both the teacher and student, and as it is, the focus cannot always be on blaming the teacher and not acknowledging the other issues precedent.Such issues could be motivation, study habits, academic preparedness, external factors, attitudes and relevance among others. And all these require an interested parent.
Analysts and activists who solely attack the education system should note that even if the system can be changed, as long as parents do not come to the party, and children remain wayward, we are wasting our time.

It is criminal for teachers to be expected to put aside their core roles so that they do for students what their parents should have done in the first place. May the parents therefore please stand up and be counted, so that we can now discuss the education system – as I begin to do now. Nna tota I think it is high time Government considered that inequalities in our society are innate and we cannot ignore them as we craft our education curriculum. A generic curriculum especially at primary school level is the downfall of many of our children even later at secondary school level.

I mean why should a Mosarwa child born and raised in abject poverty deep in the dry and desolate sands of the Kalahari be expected to understand books that depict skyscrapers, ships, aeroplanes and dams among other things so remote to him? As much as it may be costly, can’t we give such communities the type of education that will make sense to them, and allow only those who show signs of superior comprehension to proceed with components of a generic curriculum?

Besides, a lot of money is already being spent in education but with no meaningful results. Why not formulate a curriculum that allows children from early childhood education to identify their areas of strength and be slotted in schools that cater for their various talents? We cannot run away from the fact that the poor JCE results are a consequence of how we enrolled the children at primary school level. Vocationalise education from an early age and allow problem solvers, critical thinkers and innovators to progress parallel with one another. (TO BE CONTINUED NEXT WEEK)

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Congratulations on your appointment Nchadinyana!

Joe Brown

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Dear Tebogo LebotseSebego

My dear friend Tebbie, I send my heartiest greetings to you and your bosom buddy Tebbie in the hope that you are both at your healthiest state considering all things past in your otherwise eventful lives.

But more than anything else, I write to congratulate you on your recent ascendance to the position of Vice Chairperson at the BNSC. Ke gore golo fa you are at the very apex of this country’s sport administrative pyramid and I am quite sure even Tebbie must be wondering how you made it past him.

With the new position, I bet things are now awkward between you two given that somehow the man now has to listen to you for a change. Ke gore when he wears the head of family hat to try and armtwist you into submission, you can equally change topics and talk about sport administration issues, where he would have to submit to your authority. Should he return to lead that beleaguered Botswana Football Association, you can use your position to order that he be suspended so that he goes back home to take care of the family without external interference.

Ke gore his position as President of Notwane Sporting Club is no longer anything to brag about around you. You are her boss now and while he bleeds thousands to serve in his inferior position as President, wena you will be paid some handsome allowances to make decisions for him o le Vice Chairperson. And let’s say for whatever reason that Morule guy is incapacitated and you take over as the ultimate boss, you can either use or abuse your powers to make or break this poor Tebbie guy shem. In fact, you should use maemo ao to ensure he does not go back to that bewitched BFA position.

He is just fine where he is as Notwane President. See how much peace there is around you and your family ever since he quit the position albeit unceremoniously? Le go nona o nonne. I guess even your family and business finances improved for the better as he was now able to focus on what ideally should be dearer to him than anything else. Kana rre yoo o kile a batla go go bolaisa baloi ba bolo! Remember how his football enemies, seeking to topple him from that BFA top post, sought the intervention of traditional doctors, witches and wizards to eliminate him! And because you both used the same name and surname, the wizardry missiles got confused on their intended target, not able to distinguish between Tebogo Sebego and Tebogo Sebego.

You got inexplicably ill for some time during that period of heightened tensions between him and his sworn enemies. And remember the people who wanted to eliminate him were the very same who had once claimed allegiance to him, and once his use for them had expired, they connived to stab him in the back. Where are they now? It looks like the gods have turned on them as well. Nothing has gone right for them and suddenly no one wants to associate with them anymore. I guess a new crop of pretenders has now emerged and they will again use your darling Tebbie to ascend to the summit of the ill-fated sport body only to disown him again once their mission is accomplished.

I tell you even he would be a fool to return to that fire again. But you would be the bigger one to advise and make him believe he still has something to offer up there. If any chance my dear, abuse your new position in any how you can, to block his path back there. Use a weakness of him that you know too well, to enact a new law into the election process of BNSC affiliate bodies, that will disqualify him from standing. Kana ke gore I keep seeing flashes of information that suggest he wants to return there. Don’t let that happen. He is more appreciated where he is now than he will be where he wants to go. I know the guy, just as you are, is made of sterner stuff and can parry away any negativity bedeviling the so-called beautiful game, but I am scared for him – that this time the wizardry missiles might just hit him where it hurts the most – and surely you can’t survive that!

It seems to me there is just something to eat within the BFA leadership that people will kill or die for. Yet when they are up there they never have peace. Imagine the strain on your family when he is restless as a BFA President and you on the other hand have to deal with a new wave of evil pretenders who will be jealous to see where you are now in the hierarchy of Botswana sport.
I hope you have not fooled yourself into thinking that everybody is happy for you.

There are those within your circle right now who are already concocting a cauldron of witchery against you. People who ask in hushed tones what exactly you are being thanked for while they claim ‘happy-for-you’ and ‘proud-of-you’ in the public space. The angels who publicly sing your name on social media but are the same devils who under the cover of darkness ask what your electors see in you after failing the local netball association. Batho ba! Tlhe mma rona we see and hear them. Nna mme ga ke moloi ga ke bue ope ka leina – but be careful who has the most flowery words for your epic rise. There are serpents beneath that innocent looking flower. Mme kana le wena you know gore this our Botswana is infested with people who are never happy to see others do good for our sport. If you do anything progressive, you are the enemy.

So I hope as you sit up there and plan things out with Morule, you are aware there will be those on counter-attack mode – invalidators who will always be looking for any wrong in any right you do. And they will make sure to amplify the wrong such that the right even looks insignificant. Baloi! But I know you all too well to know and understand what your ascendance could be coming with. Forewarned, they say, is forearmed. Get down to business with this knowledge that you have three sets of people to appease – those who genuinely want to see our sport grow; those who want to thrive in the chaos that is besieging our sport; and those who just hate you and would want to see you fail just for the heck of it.

Your starting point should be to work and serve with all the three in mind. That way you will go about setting up your strategies of growing the sport industry with the right ammunition to thwart any such negative energy as to dampen your spirit. I know they say the higher you go the cooler it becomes – I hope wena you will not disappoint those who believe in you. Whatever you do up there, remember at some point you were down there crying for this and that, and blaming those with the powers for not helping you achieve your goals.

Do not suddenly forget what is going on ko tlase mma. Be the fiery fighter you have always been and let your documented love for local sport energise you even further to fight fire with fire. Even if you have to step on the toes of the minister who put you in the board; and even if you have to be a pain in the necks of your board colleagues who then elected you Vice Chairperson, as long as it is for the good of the sport you love, then just do it.

It is better to fall and die for the truth than to live and thrive on the dishonesty of sycophancy. I know you to be brutal in your thoughts and such should be the trait that was key to your initial appointment into the board by an honest minister who truly wanted to see things change for the good. The minister put you there without fear of hate nor to seek any favours, and therefore prove to him and those who entrusted you with the VC position that you are just what was needed to help turn around the fortunes of our sport. The problem with the past leaders was the tendency to be ‘too nice’ with the ultimate leadership that appointed them.

They were often afraid to upset those who ‘made them who they are,’ forgetting that actually, it was who they were that put them in that position in the first place – never a favour! How many times have we celebrated the appointments of certain individuals because we knew what they could offer, only for them to cool down and offer nothing once they are up there? Don’t be that kind of person. If you have to resign because for whatever reason you are not allowed to do what you think is best for local sport, then do so. And be public about it. Otherwise what would be the purpose of the appointment in the first place? And don’t hide behind existing laws. Don’t hide behind Morule and say kana wena o Vice fela.

Rona we see you as THE LEADERSHIP. Gore o Vice or eng we don’t give a hoot. O nne s’thulaphoko and make us remember you and your mates as the sport leadership that changed Botswana sport for good. Just do about anything at whatever cost – be it reputational or monetary. Sometimes as a leader you have to be unpopular for doing what is right. Seek no favours, fear no hate. Afterall the haters ba tlaa ba strong! And while at it, again do about anything – anything at whatever cost – to ensure the BNSC affiliate bodies are led by people who deserve to be there.

We are tired of sport codes that are on autopilot led by people who are only in it for themselves. And remind Chillyboy that I have since asked him to see to it that mass national sport bodies like volleyball, netball and basketball receive funds – just P1 million per sport code per season – to run national leagues. That is little money that won’t hurt government coffers. And le wena, together with your colleagues, should push for that. But more importantly, congratulations on your rise Nchadinyana!

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Diligent people

Yvonne Mooka

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I was listening to the late Dr. Myles Munroe’s podcast on Diligence recently. I should admit it left me challenged to revisit the way I do things.

He says that diligent people get up early enough to arrive on time to appointments and to complete chores prior to arrival. He advises that appearing punctually shows others that the person is dependable. In addition, a diligent person takes initiative to complete tasks rather than waiting to be told what to do.

Therefore diligence is simply giving your best on anything set before you. Munroe states that diligence requires continuing on a task that is unpleasant. Even if a task is difficult to complete, a diligent person does his best. If the work is physical and the person is out of shape, a diligent person finds ways to improve his physical fitness or health in order to complete the task.

The book of Proverbs in the Bible talks extensively about the different traits of a lazy person versus a diligent person. If you desire to grow in diligence, the book of Proverbs offers timeless wisdom on how to do so. Without further ado, here are five must-have traits of a diligent person.
A diligent person is an excellent planner

“The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.” Proverbs 21:5 Achieving a goal requires a detailed plan with a deadline. A friend of mine, who is studying Mechanical Engineering, has wisely exclaimed many times, “Plan your work and work your plan!” Diligent people give themselves directions and then follow through on their plans. A diligent person will both plan well and pace themselves, thus finishing assignments without getting burned out.

Produces excellent work
“Do you see the man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before unknown men.” Proverbs 22:29
Excellent work attracts the attention of excellent people. A diligent person not only works hard, but does his or her best work every time. When you are a diligent, excellent worker, you will be offered opportunities that you never could have orchestrated on your own. Excellent work is truly the best promoter.

Is faithful in everyday tasks
“He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows frivolity will have poverty enough!” Proverbs 28:19
The diligent person in this verse is faithfully tending to their daily responsibilities. In other words, a diligent person will take their everyday work seriously. Instead of wasting time on things that bring no reward, a diligent person will focus their energy on productive activities, even if that work is not particularly exciting. Thankfully, even boring work will reap a harvest if we remain faithful.

Is self-motivated
“Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which, having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest.” Proverbs 6:6-8

A diligent person stays on top of their work without their leader constantly cracking the whip! They refuse to procrastinate, instead choosing to fulfill their duties in a timely manner.
Facebook/Instagram: Yvonne Tshepang Mooka
LinkedIn: Yvonne Mooka
Twitter: @yvonnemooka
Email: yvonnequeen2003@gmail.com

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