Updates about the state of the BOTSWANA CLASSROOM coming in from Parliament this morning are disturbing/infuriating. We in Botswana have made a national sport of endangering children’s lives/futures, particularly when the children are in a learning environment. It is an idea from colonial times “education must hurt” mentality.
Learners in Botswana are currently being transported by donkey-cart to school where they learn under trees (just like colonial times), in this frigid Botswana winter in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. And we are meant to genuflect before our paternalistic leadership for this “favor” of hazardous state-funded donkey-cart rides…or, as Permanent Secretary Ministry of Education cluelessly calls it, “maiteko a a mante a puso.” Because Botswana, the world’s largest producer of diamonds (with only a tiny population of 2 million) is in the harsh talons of corruption, coloniality and a leadership vacuum. In all this tragedy, the children and their futures suffer. School-going must NEVER be a dangerous exercise.
Further, Botswana learners will now be forced to repeat grades because gov’t failed to have a comprehensive plan. Our gov’t (our gov’t that is fantastic at dangerously slow decision-making) doesn’t know what to do (SURPRISE-SURPRISE!!!) but as usual, our gov’t would rather risk children’s futures than engage actual experts…(not clueless political appointees). Engaging serious curriculum consultants remains impossible for MINISTRY OF BASIC EDUCATION, BOTSWANA. They would rather put energy into being even more secretive about how dangerous school-going has become in Botswana. This is a gross violation of children’s right to learn in a safe environment that enables, protects and facilitates their futures.
The fuel shortages in Botswana only make it even more difficult for school-going to be anything other than nerve-wracking/dangerous for the learner and their family. The failure of gov’t to provide all schools with plumbing means hand-washing in some schools remains a fantasy. In these COVID-19 times, mind you. Just two months ago, the Minister of Health promised free flu shots for learners. This morning he says he is unable to do it anymore. Why?
The future of the Motswana child/learner is under siege. How sad. And what do we get from our mis-leadership (lips fond of calling children “our future”)?We get silence.