Francistown — Ministry of Basic Education intends to see to it that students who excel in sporting activities are supported in creating a path that will lead to success at the international arena. This was said by Assistant Minister of Basic Education, Thato Kwerepe at the start of the 2019 Botswana Intergrated Sports Association (BISA) and Botswana Primary Schools Sports Association (BOPSSA) third national athletics competitions in Francistown.
Sport, he said had created employment, builds partnerships, contributes to the economic standard of living and improved standard of living.
He therefore urged athletes to strike a balance between academics and sport, saying not all of them would have an opportunity at the highest level.
He further highlighted that ministry had adopted the Education and Training Sector Strategic Plan (ETSSP 2015-2020), which aims to transform education in Botswana.
He said the strategy seeks to create platforms for learners to express their talent without being biased towards academic success. "ETSSP recognises learners' skills as well as their capability outside the classroom and there is no doubt that sport benefit learners in ensuring that they live healthy lives and promote wellbeing," he said.
He said Botswana also subscribed towards Sustainable Development Goal No 3, which talks about ensuring healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages. BISA president, Joshua Gaotlhobogwe said the athletics meet served to create a platform for the young boys and girls to showcase their talents in the different disciplines
In their effort to 'mine rough diamonds' in athletics, he said the two associations were faced with challenges as the ministry did not have a budget for the two associations.
"The ministry instead looks for funds from other votes, which may not necessarily be meant for sport and that alone compromise their activities. The ministry continues to remind us of how unsustainable it is to fund school sports. They have further gone on to tell us their primary mandate is academics. We have suddenly seen the cutting of the funds that we used to get to run our activities and there are so many red tapes in," he said.
Gaotlhobogwe said the issue of overtime and subsistence allowances continued to haunt their operations, given that they were never sure of participating at regional competitions.
He said their office bearers were facing challenges from their supervisors as some gave preference to academics over sport adding that they usually face challenges when it comes to being released to attend sport activities.
The safety of the students, lack of ablution facilities in some school, he said were challenges during the competition.
Meanwhile, more than 2 500 athletes from all regions will compete in the national athletics finals, which will also be used as Confederation of School Sports Association of Southern Africa qualifiers.
<i>Source : BOPA</i>