Gaborone — Basic education is the foundation upon which all efforts aimed at establishing a knowledge-based society should be anchored, Vice President Mr Slumber Tsogwane has said.
Speaking on behalf of President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi at the Botswana Examinations Council (BEC) 10th annual excellence awards, Mr Tsogwane said the awards therefore provided an opportunity for the nation to dialogue as a nation on all aspects of general education.
In addition, he said the awards enabled the nation to more specifically to discuss the sector's contribution to government's agenda of creating a knowledge-based society.
"They have a direct motivational effect on the performance of those students who are still in the school system," he said, adding that the awards contributed to the improvement of education in the country. He government would continue to support the awards as they were one of the critical ways of uplifting the lives of Batswana.
Mr Tsogwane pointed out that for the past two years quality grades at both junior certificate and Botswana General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) levels had assumed slight upward trajectories.
"I am hopeful that this trend, however modest, will grow steadily into the future," he said.
He said another positive change was that candidates were now striving to perform better than previous awardees and viewed this as an encouraging development that reflected on efforts of government, parents, teachers and learners.
The vice president, however, urged schools, parents and teachers to note and correct the performance dynamics where girls consistently outperformed boys.
He said government did not wish for a situation where certain subjects were the domain of one gender.
Mr Tsogwane stressed the need to balance factors that led to girls outperforming boys, particularly in the humanities subjects while boys' domain remained sciences and technical subjects.
"For us to attain equity as espoused in the current education strategy we need parity in subject performance. This calls for researchers to look deeper into this issue of girls consistently outperforming boys in order to inform interventions at the systems level," he said
Speaking to the 2018 stars, Mr Tsogwane said they deserved the honour and recognition given to them. "My humble advice to you is that you should receive the honour and recognition with humility," he said. He said it was important to bear in mind that success came with responsibility.
"Your temperament, ability to stay focused, commitment to work even harder and choice of appropriate careers are critical elements for the future development of this country," said Mr Tsogwane.
He said the 2018 high achievers had a golden opportunity to be part of the critical human capital that would transform Botswana into a knowledge-based economy which justified the huge investment in them by taxpayers.
Mr Tsogwane expressed government's appreciation to the private sector for its continued support towards the BEC excellence awards.
Presenting the 2018 Golden Star prize to BGCSE top performer Anthony Adam of St. Joseph's College, Mr Tsogwane said he out-performed over 38 000 other candidates across the country. He pocketed P20 000.
Pego Letebele (Letlhakane Senior Secondary School) and Lebalwaemang Gabete ( Tutume McConnel Senior Secondary school) got positions two and three respectively, each pocketing P10 000 and P5 000 respectively.
For his part, BEC executive secretary Prof. Brian Mokopakgosi said this year BEC was recognising 39 candidates; 13 at PSLE and 10 each at JCE and BGCSE level.
"The additional three at PSLE are as a result of a tie at the 10th spot. Six of the recipients are students with special needs, two at each level," he said adding that the quality of performance overall showed slight improvement over previous years. Prof. Mokopakgosi however expressed concern that urban and semi-urban schools continued to dominate the awards.
"St. Josephs College, in particular, continues to be a powerhouse when it comes to BGCSE performance and maybe the ministry of basic education should very carefully study what it is that the school is doing and integrate it into its school turnaround strategy," he said.
He said schools around the country must benchmark at St. Joseph's.
Prof Mokopakgosi paid tribute to teachers who continued to do a fantastic job in moulding students into disciplined and future responsible citizens.
"The quality of curriculum delivery and of formative assessment by teachers; inputs in terms of policies and resources by government; and the quality and credibility of summative assessment by the BEC; all go towards producing the right candidates for tertiary education and training, and therefore contribute directly to the realisation of a knowledge-based society which we aspire for," he said.
<i>Source : BOPA</i>