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Teachers headed for good times

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They say new brooms sweep clean. And hopefully, the new minister at Basic Education Bagalatia Arone may be destined to change the fortunes of thousands of the country’s teaching cadres. That is if words were deeds! Arone, a trained teacher by profession who says like Botswana’s second president, the late Sir Ketumile Masire, he is “seconded to politics,” and will go back to teaching, made a bold statement last week at Kgale Hill Junior Secondary in Gaborone that had teachers cheering and whistling in apparent joy. The occasion was the ground breaking ceremony to mark the construction of a special education unit at the school, courtesy of a US$ 77, 488 (P849, 187) grant contract under Japan’s grant scheme – Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects. Speaking at the auspicious occasion graced by Japan’s Ambassador to Botswana Kozo Takeda and deputy permanent secretary at Basic Education including the school’s headmaster Solomon Setswe and PTA chairman Maramba, minister Arone promised teachers that he was working tirelessly to ensure that they get time to rest when schools close. He said he could never understand why teachers don’t go for holidays but are kept in schools when they should be resting and meeting their parents. Under the current dispensation in which teachers are bundled with all other civil servants under the Public Service Act, teachers are required to fill leave days when schools close.

When they were regulated by the Teaching Service Management Act, which has since been tossed into the dustbin, teachers had rest days when schools closed. But ever since the advent of the Public Service Act, teachers have suffered under a heavy yoke. The met result of these working conditions in which teachers are required to supervise students’ extracurricular activities including travelling with them for sports activities, has been poor and dismal academic results every year. Minister Arone said he is going to present his proposals for teachers’ holidays to Cabinet for discussion and possible approval and pleaded with teachers to do “what is within your right” as he assured them of “all support you need” to make the education system a success. Arone said he had already spoken to teachers’ unions about this issue. He also made a revelation that he was President of the Student Representative Council (SRC) at College from the first year until he finished. He said he was thrust into politics by his colleagues that he trained with at College, one of whom is a teacher at Kgale Hill JSS. Arone said he is ready to change teachers’ work conditions provided they do their bit.

“This is the only country that we have, it’s a gift from God and our parents, we must commit to serving our country,” he said. He said the country’s president – Mokgweetsi Masisi – is a teacher as well as the vice president, Slumber Tsogwane and that he too is a teacher responsible for teachers’ welfare, hence there is hope they can set this country on the right path. Speaking at the same occasion, His Excellency Ambassador Takeda said the special education unit being built by local contractor, Singa Joiners and Shop Fitters, is the 51st project among a total of 52 projects that the embassy has assisted under the grant scheme in Botswana since 1997. For his part school headmaster, Setswe promised that school management would adhere to the terms and conditions set under the grant contract as well as committed to finish the construction of the classroom block on September 10, 2018 and within budget. The special education unit will house some 68 special needs students.

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BMC secures beef market in Seychelles

Dikarabo Ramadubu

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Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) will soon start to sell its beef to the Island of Seychelles. Not only will they sell frozen raw meat, but will also send corned beef for trial in the Island.

All this is thanks to last week’s visit by President Mokgweetsi Masisi who included in his delegation executive management of the BMC, led by Chief Executive Officer, Dr Akolang Tombale.
The agreement signed between BMC and two leading Seychelles companies, will see BMC exporting at least 48 tonnes of raw beef to the island possibly from October. The names of the two companies that BMC signed an agreement with are Seychelles Trading Company which is a quasi-government organisation, and Rosebelle Company which is privately owned.

Although both have agreed to trade with each other, BMC cannot start immediately, as they have to wait for the green light from Seychelles companies who still have to apply for import permits in accordance with the law of their republic.

Speaking to The Midweek Sun, Tombale expressed gratitude that they managed to get good business in Seychelles through the assistance of President Masisi. “We are ready to export any time from now. As you know Seychelles is an island surrounded by mountains and cannot produce much if not anything. “They therefore depend much on imports even from as far as Brazil and Europe. Their economy is driven by tourism and they do not differ much with the European market in terms of the demand for beef as most tourists come from Europe and United States.”

Dr. Tombale said they agreed with the two companies that since “we are not sure about the logistics we will start by selling 24tonnes to each company per month, meaning we will be supplying the Island with a total of 48 tonnes per month. The idea is to start small and grow bigger as the people get used to our beef.” BMC has also negotiated to sell small stock meat to Seychelles and successfully negotiated for local chicken farmers to start selling their range chicken to Seychelles as well.

According to Tombale, he negotiated the deal after being approached by local chicken farmers amongst them Kgosi Mosadi Seboko of Balete, who requested that “we should try to find a market for chicken farmers as we go around the world searching for the beef market.” Tombale revealed that for a start both range chickens and small stock will not be supplied in tonnes or large quantities as they will be sold on a trial basis.

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G-west community reunion-walk a resounding success

Keletso Thobega

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Multitudes turned up for the Mosengwaketsi community walk and braai session this past Saturday in Gaborone West. The walk was held in the morning and was preceded by football games and a braai session that went on until late in the evening.

According to the event director Tshenolo Palai, the aim of the community day event was to revive community spirit and address crime and social ills. “The Mosengwaketsi community reunion will be held not only to create a platform to build unity but also address the social ill of passion killings,” he said.

Palai said that they had also invited health stakeholders for a wellness segment because they had realised that there are many health related conditions that affect the quality of people’s lives hence they had joined forces with religious organisations, the business community, neighbourhood outreach policing and other stakeholders in the area to encourage a culture of unity and create dialogue between all the parties.

He noted that they had wanted to create a relaxed environment conducive for different people to engage and strengthen their networks. He said they were also concerned with the high rate of crimes of passion in Botswana and also wanted to create a platform for both men and women to open up on issues that affect them because most people tend to be more relaxed in a social setting.

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