The recent move by President Mokgweetsi Masisi to move the knowledge component to the new Ministry of Communications through rationalization of Government Portfolios has fuelled concerns from trade unions that government is neglecting and undermining the education sector.
Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU) President, Tobokani Rari buttressed the concerns during the 2022 Botswana Teachers’ Day Commemorations held in Maun last week. The outspoken unionist argued that the decision proves that the educators are viewed as unfit to drive a knowledge-based economy which government has promised alongside the digitalised education system.
“When the President took office, he promised the nation that one of the issues that his government would be driving is to have a knowledge-based economy, an endeavour that we appreciated and acknowledged as trade unions for educators. But to achieve this there is an urgent need for a radical transformation of our education system for it to be digitalised and technology driven. We have however seen very little of that on the ground which throws this promise to question,” Rari said.
He stressed that there is a dire need for a drastic and radical transformation of the education system to address the COVID – 19 related challenges. BOSETU President highlighted that there is an urgent need that the schools should be digitalised, fitted with modern technology equipment such as the interactive boards, and enjoy connectivity.
“It is in this era of COVID, and post COVID, that we should see our education system turning to the use of electronic textbooks, students being issued with tablets and both teachers and students assisted with connectivity for remote learning to take place as that would enable a teacher to be reliant amidst COVID – 19,” Rari noted.
Meanwhile Vice President Slumber Tsogwane has acknowledged that their commitment to propel Botswana to a high Income status requires an educator that will impart critical knowledge; promote innovation and creativity amongst learners for the economy to thrive. Tsogwane noted that it is therefore ICT and the digitization of education which will help drive this change.
He revealed that government through the SmartBots connectivity Project is aggressively rolling out the village connectivity initiative to community centres with schools being among primary targets for this Wi-Fi connectivity. He highlighted that as of 9th May 2022, 70.58% installation was completed with further sites representing 10.81% planned to come on-stream by 30th June 2022.
The Wi-Fi connectivity in schools, is expected to expand access to online resources by teachers, instructors, and learners alike. Tsogwane noted that this will build more resilience and adaptability in the conduct of teaching and learning in the schools when faced with disasters. He stressed that government is also committed to ensuring that Botswana moves forward to become a knowledge-based economy.