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GIRLS SEXED AT BOOT CAMPS

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Boot camps are for academic excellence and discipline of students, not sexual entertainment spots with young girls, cautions boot camp operator and counsellor, Boyson Mokone also known as G’Word in musical circles. Mokone said reports that soldiers get intimately involved with female students during boot camps are disturbing, saying as the ‘shield of the nation’ and ‘disciplined’ cadres, the army men are expected to be the ones to protect the girls. Such liaisons deserve the strongest condemnation especially that they are done under the cloak of trying to develop a young person. He said when done properly, boot camps mould students.

Mokone recalled the seven-day boot camp they had recently at Montshiwa CJSS, which had been requested by parents because they wanted to enforce discipline in their young. At that boot camp they shared the task with other organisations like Alpha Outreach-Botswana, and Walk of Hope as well as his own organisation Youth Of Hope Safe Haven (YOSHO). The ex-drug user maintained that children need boot camps while they are still young but that if their mentors make sexual advances on them they would soon refuse to go for boot camps.

He said drug usage by students is real and boot camps could help rectify the problem. They offer Drug Abuse Resistant Education (D.A.R.E), which most of the teachers really appreciate. Mokone said that the welfare of the children is very important and urged those conducting boot camps to desist from using the girl children as sex toys in their environment of learning. “We can’t win the battles we are fighting if we in turn are the ones exploiting, destroying and blackmailing the same people we are to protect. Those are our children,” said Mokone.

YOSHO intends to cover 60 schools through boot camps in two years. They have talent search and development programmes as well as life skills covering alcohol abuse, substance abuse and sexual morality talks among students. Montshiwa CJSS awarded Mokone and his co-worker Phemelo Segale with certificates for the impressive work they did in their school. Principal Education Officer1 for Guidance and Counselling in the Department of Special Support Services-Ministry of Basic Education, Marumuagae Bonang also indicated that boot camps are meant to enhance and supplement what the schools do in terms of moulding students.

He noted that the ministry is committed to the welfare and holistic development of the students hence they do not expect such issues of abuse. He said that although there are such allegations they haven’t received them at their office. He said they do not just choose anyone to do boot camp with the students and they usually engage teachers as well, to guarantee proper care for the students. “Boot camps should actually compliment what happens in schools on a regular basis as well as physical, emotional, spiritual aspects and team building amongst these young people,” said Bonang.

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BATTLE FOR MMADIKOLO

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University of Botswana students are bracing themselves for the Student Representative Council (SRC) elections. Contenders are fighting tooth and nail to appease the electorate. Three camps are in contention to fill the 13 council positions.

Umbrella for Democratic Change’s (UDC) Moono-wa-Baithuti has the onerous task of defending all the 13 seats which they hauled at the last elections of 2018. “As Moono wa Baithuti, we have lots of achievements. We are on the verge of getting the student bar open, so we need to go back and fix what we started,” said UDC’s Tumelo Legase who is vying for the position of Vice President.

He said they have advocated for student empowerment policies and are also proposing a third arm of student representation. “We have the SRC and the Judiciary, what we need is the student Parliament so that we have a large number of leaders who can independently attend to problems across the university.” The dark horse in this race is the University of Botswana’s Alliance for Progressive (AP) which will take another leap of faith despite their loss in the previous election.

They are rejuvenated and redefined. Candidate for Vice President Karabo Bokwe said central to their mandate is making the welfare of the student community a priority. “We want to help eradicate school policies that border on oppression, and through new polices call for initiatives that come with enterprenuership benefits to students.”

AP candidate for Information and Publicity, a first year Criminal Justice student Gracious Selelo said they are more united than other parties even at national level. “We don’t have internal squabbles within our party, we are more focused and can deliver our mandate easily,” she noted.

However the ruling party’s BDP GS-26 will come with all guns blazing after an embarrassing defeat in the previous elections. Preparations have been made and the GS-26 is looking to take the elections by storm.

According to their Presidential Candidate Boniface Seane, they come with the message of hope that addresses the current status quo at the University.“The university is not functioning so we drew three policies that embrace inclusiveness. We want to lead collectively with the students, through the student body meetings which the previous SRCs have failed to do. “We will consult with the students with no discrimination.”

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Healthcare system to improve

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The Health ministry has developed a seven-point programme to guide the country in improving the healthcare system, says Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Alfred Rabashemi Madigele.

“The seven priority areas will serve as a roadmap and a guardian angel towards improving the overall healthcare system and increasing access to health care while fighting the burden of disease that confronts us,” said Madigele at Masa Square Hotel on Tuesday.

The focal areas include decentralisation; Universal Health Coverage, Tertiary Care, Strategic leveraging on the Private sector; Supply Chain; Research as well as Staff welfare and accountability.
Point-one of the seven priority areas according to Dr Madigele is about empowering the District Health Management Teams (DHMTs) and transforming them into fully fledged Regional Health Authorities.

“In this case, they will be rationalised from 27 to 18 and have the authority to hire A and B Scales, promote up to C1 and manage micro procurement,” he said. Point two is about improving the quality of healthcare services. “The main causes of mortality and their risk factors in Botswana are Primary Health Care issues,” Dr Madigele said.

He added that “Our efforts for the attainment of Universal Health Coverage should thus focus on: Prevention; Comprehensive screening; Early treatment; and Surveillance at the community.”
This he said, would require revamped grassroots efforts in which adequate numbers of community health workers through partnerships with the non-governmental sector will be deployed as necessary.

According to Dr Madigele, the top five causes of death in Botswana in 2017 were HIV/AIDS, Ischemic heart disease, stroke, lower respiratory infections and Diabetes. He said compared to 2007, NCDs among these had increased in burden by an average of 34%. The top five risk factors related to these causes of mortality were unsafe sex; poor diet; high blood pressure; alcohol abuse and tobacco use.

Improving the quality of care, Madigele said will also include the safety and security of patients; attitudes of staff as experienced by patients; time taken in queues either before seeing a health worker or receiving medication and the availability of drugs.

Meanwhile, the health minister revealed that the commissioning of Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital (SKMTH) is ongoing with the facility scheduled for opening on April 24th. “This will be a phased approach commencing with some services including paediatric oncology, internal medicine, rheumatology and endocrinology, diagnostic radiology, laboratory services and pharmacy”.

A phased commissioning of SKMTH will reduce overdependence on South Africa for referrals, reduce costs and also institutionalise provision of super specialist services within Botswana.

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