Saturday, October 25, 2008

Remarks by His Excellency the President Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama at the 10th Anniversary Celebrations of Kaudwane Primary School

source: Republic of Botswana (25/10/08): TAUTONA TIMES no 33 of 2008
The Weekly Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President "Democracy, Development, Dignity and Discipline"


[Salutations]...Ladies and Gentlemen

1. I am delighted to be invited to this occasion that marks the 10th anniversary celebrations of Kaudwane Primary School. As I see it, the event is important, not only for the teachers and pupils of this school, but also the entire community of Kaudwane village.

2. It is important for all of us to know that anniversary celebrations give us an opportunity to take stock of our performance in terms of successes, challenges and future strategies. It is, therefore, my conviction that this occasion provides an opportunity for this school to reflect on past experiences, the present situation and the future of the school with a view to improve the provision and management of primary education.

3. I am reliably informed that Kaudwane Primary School was opened in 1998 with an enrolment of 141 pupils. The school's enrolment has since increased to 257 pupils. At its inception, the classes of the school ranged from standard one to standard five, and later increased to standard six and standard seven.

4. I wish to note that since your school participated in the Primary School Leaving Examination in 2000, its performance in the ABC category of pass rates shows a worrying trend of decline. A look at the trend in the performance of the school in the past 8 years (2000 - 2007) shows that you achieved a 100% ABC pass rate in 2000, obtaining position one in the inspectoral area out of 27 schools. In 2001 you recorded 80% at position 10. In 2002, 84% position 11, 2003, 75% position 14, 2004, 68% position 15, 2005, 75% position 1, 2006, 96%, position 1 and 2007, 50% position 13. As I have indicated, the results show inconsistencies and decline in performance, something that I suppose you are also concerned about. However, you need to be commended for the outstanding performance you have recorded especially in the good years.

5. Let me hasten to say that there is a very close relationship between schools' pass rates and celebrations of this type. Pass rates at any level of education are an important yardstick of progress towards achieving quality in education. Achievements in learning are the most important measures of success or failure of an education system because they inform us as a nation of the impact our schools are making in terms of desired knowledge, skills and attitudes.

6. The Kaudwane community is also reported to be active in the affairs of their children at school. Examples of these initiatives include your community's involvement in a number of school-based projects aimed at supplementing what the school is doing to achieve access, equity and quality in education. I want to take this opportunity to encourage parents and the community at large to continue to take education of their children seriously because "education is the key to the future" in any society.

7. Some of your interventions I am told include the dropout follow-up projects, construction of sports grounds, installation of standpipes in the school garden and the planting of trees in the school. I wish to commend you and indeed the community for this co-operation.

8. I am also delighted to learn that this occasion also celebrates the spirit of partnership that exists in your school. I am told that you have mobilized and partnered with some notable local and international donors and agencies in pursuit of some of these projects. These include the World Challenge Expeditions, the Leopard Ecology and Permaculture Botswana all of which assisted your schools with poultry and environment related projects. Your children's engagement in these projects through their school environment helps them to practice what they learn and serves to augment what they are taught in school and also instil a sense of accountability.

9. I wish to take this opportunity to share with you some of the new initiatives aimed at improving the performance of the sub-sector of primary education in Botswana. The Ministry of Education and Skills Development has introduced initiatives like subject specialization and other strategies aimed at improving results of Primary School Leaving Examinations. Subject specialization will enable teachers to teach subjects which they are most proficient in and produce better results. Currently, 273 Primary Schools are implementing subject specialization from Standard Four and the Ministry aims at rolling out the innovation to all schools, in a phased manner taking into account the resource requirements.

10. The second quality improvement initiative is a School Capacity Building Programme aimed at improving instructional leadership at senior management level of schools. This is done through a management training programme targeting the School Heads, Deputies, Heads of Department and Senior Teachers.

11. Last but equally important is the effort by the Ministry to enhance inspection and supervision as a way to improve quality and discipline. You will recall that inspection and supervision of schools used to be a routine expectation of schools, with emphasis on the number of schools inspected per year. This practice has since stopped with the introduction of a more targeted approach to address inspection and supervision.

12. Under this arrangement, the inspection and supervision targets the under-performing schools. The approach encourages your Principal Education Officers to visit these schools more often than other schools.

13. I am aware of some of the challenges that your school is facing, such as the incidence of students dropping out of school. The Ministry of Education and Skills Development is currently engaged in a study to determine the causes of dropouts. While the Ministry is busy with this study, it remains your responsibility as students to stay focused and dedicated to your school work. You need to discipline yourselves and stay away from bad practices like alcohol consumption and smoking. It is also a responsibility of parents to instil discipline in their children. No responsible society can sit back and watch their children go astray and lose direction. As for other challenges, like communications, school supplies and vacancies, I can promise that I will direct the relevant authorities to act with speed and provide feedback.

14. Let me conclude by once more thanking you for this invitation; it has been a pleasure for me to share this occasion with you and the Kaudwane community. I thank you and wish you a fruitful and joyous day. Pula!

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