Batswana Youth On "Education" - Letlhogonolo Moremi

Interview conducted by Ms. Nozizwe Ntesang, hearing the views of young Batswana on Education in their country (Botswana).

Hi. I'm Letlhogonolo Godsave Christian Moremi. I'm a 21 year old LLB student at the University of Botswana. I'm a debater, blogger, also write and perform spoken word poetry under the pseudonym YanSen.

How would you describe the education system in Botswana?

Being a product of the public education system I cannot say much about private education. The public school system is in my opinion fractured and in need of serious reconstruction. Although the government's efforts to provide free basic education are indeed commendable, the quality of learning material and the environment in public classrooms needs improvement. A greater part of the material is knowledge based and does little to impart skills needed to compete in the global community (seeing as the world has become that much smaller). Teachers are overworked, often working under a teacher:student ratio of about 1:40 per class. (So a chemistry teacher, for example, would teach about 4 classes of 40 students = 160 students needing her attention and that just strains the delivery of material.) You find that some primary schools do not even have enough textbooks/stationery due to Council budget constraints and end up having to rely parents buying reams of printing paper to carry on operations or having to buy textbooks for their children (which ideally, are the mandate of councils to provide). All of these aforementioned problems have come to manifest and are evident in the decline of quality results over the past few years. There is a general lack of inspiration. students are poorly inspired to learn and teachers are demotivated by their working conditions. The curriculum leaves little room for students to develop skills in areas outside the formal education set up. Which is sad because many realise later on that you need more than just straight A's to survive in the world beyond school. The reality is even worse for those who wish to pursue careers in say performing arts for example (especially since there isn't a programme for this in the curriculum.) More needs to be done to build well rounded graduates.

As a young person, how has the aforementioned system benefited you? And if not, please elaborate.

I think the starting point would be that I got to receive 12 years of virtually free basic education. I was fortunate enough to have been the curious, intelligent student. That helped me go beyond just books and take advantage of the extra-curricula activities available, resulting in where I am and what I know today. Hahaha!

If any improvements are needed, what are they? How do you suggest the youth can implement them?

Firstly, the education system on top of a curriculum upgrade needs to become tailored to cater for students with various aspirations. There needs to be carer focused programs from as soon as Junior school. This will do a lot towards producing skilled and world class competitive graduates. Secondly, there's more that needs to be done in bringing basic education to marginalised groups, such as the Basarwa, in a manner and form that is culture conscious and inclusive. It would appear many feel the school system in it's current state is far from ideal for them, resulting in a concerning rate of students often abandoning school or not caring at all about their education. The government needs to solve its issues with teachers and find solutions to problems such as the high workload placed upon teachers because that negatively impacts the delivery of material. Much needs to be done to rouse students' attitude towards education. Much needs to be done in assessing why students behave the way they do towards their education and what can be done to change these attitudes. I think as the youth especially those of who went through the system and excelled, it is easy to forget that many are struggling. We need to use this "excellence" to shine the spotlight on keys areas of fault and pressure those in positions of power to address these issues. These are faults that our younger brothers and sisters will be put through if we do not correct them. We need to go back, work with our former schools and help where we can in raising these issues until they are solved, it's the least we can do.

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