Shape Shifter in Education by
It is not students’ passing through the education system that is paramount, but the quality of what they learn and how they translate it into tangible skills and knowledge. The poor quality of results from local schools has urged Minister of Education, Dr. Unity Dow to find new ways of ensuring quality in education. The Ministry has continued to benchmark with countries from the African region and beyond that show a progressive and upward tilt in academic performance and overall learned student population, that will contribute to a strong workforce competent enough to participate on an international scale. Offering quality education, the Ministry has acknowledged it will ensure that graduates have a smooth transition into the workforce, contribute to the country’s GDP through their skills and knowledge, and are globally competent to spread their wings across the world.
While the spotlight remains on education pass rates that continue to decline and a poorly skilled and educated youth graduate population, African countries have realised that working together is inevitable to collectively find practical solutions to these challenges.
The chairperson of Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SACMEQ) managing committee, Minister of Education in South Africa, Angelina Motshekga met with Dr. Dow in Gaborone last year. The two exchanged notes on key information of 16 governments, which could be used for research, benchmarking, policy development and budgetary purposes.
Minister Dow noted that, “without research, you cannot budget; you cannot know if your curriculum needs review or whether you need policy and legislative review.” The hosting of the SACMEQ conference consolidates a four-year period of capacity-building programmes in educational planning undertaken, as co-operative activities by the International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP) and Ministries of Education and Culture in Southern Africa.
Policies for decision makers
The role of SACMEQ is to provide policy advice to key decision makers on educational quality issues considered as high priority by their respective ministries of education. The project is mainly designed to provide opportunities for educational planners in southern Africa to work together, as well as share expertise and experiences. According to a report compiled by SACMEQ, if education is not based on research and evidence, it runs the risk of being dogged by dogma, theory, ideology and prejudice.
The SACMEQ assembly, which was held in Botswana in 2016, attracted ministers and education experts from the 16- member countries: Botswana, Angola, Kenya, Lesotho, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Malawi, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The SACMEQ offices were moved to Botswana, which is another effort to ensure it is a hub of education in the region. In its continued efforts to improve the education system in the country, Botswana has decided to not only benchmark on the country, but also establish partnerships with the country through local institutions, to ensure skills exchange and sharing among education facilitators, educators and students. Botswana has cemented education ties with another country known for its excellent education system, the Seychelles.
Also see – The BIG INTERVIEW