Botswana a better place to teach by
Clay Mazvabo believes that Botswana is a better place to teach, in comparison to other countries. He has spent 12 years teaching in Botswana, and only four years teaching in his home country, Zimbabwe.
“Zimbabwe has too much content compared to Botswana. Much of the teaching is done by one teacher. One teacher can teach 11 subjects. Hence I think Botswana is better. Here I take four subjects, which gives me time to do other education- related activities like sports,” said Mazvabo. Teaching fewer subjects also gives him time to pay more attention to learners who struggle academically.
However, with reference to lesson planning, he said Botswana could adopt strategies from Zimbabwe. “General good lesson planning means a lesson is going to be interesting. Botswana needs to invest more time in this. A good teacher is also seen by a good record kept of class activities and students’ performance, among other records a good teacher should keep,” he said.
Teaching a calling
Mazvabo joined Botswana’s teaching environment in 2003, having taught at Chidodo Primary School for two years and Chiriseri Primary School for another two years. His first school in Botswana was Phakalane English Medium Primary School, where he taught from 2003 to 2004. “For me teaching was what I had always wanted to do as a child. So from 1996 to 1998 I was in a teacher’s college called Morgester where I read for my teaching diploma for three years. After four years of teaching in Zimbabwe I decided I wanted to see new places, experience a new environment as well as seek out greener pastures,” said Mazvabo.
He taught at Al_Nur in Gabarone. “Besides teaching, Al-Nur is special to me because it sharpened my coaching skills like no other school ever had. I coached cricket, soft ball, soccer, volley ball and tennis,” he enthused. While teaching at this school, he enrolled for a Bachelor in Education degree in Zimbabwe.
Finding common ground
Al-Nur being a Muslim school, had its challenges for the Christian- born Maz- vabo, but interacting with parents on a regular basis meant common ground is found in cultural and procedural differences.
At Al-Nur he took a teaching break and pursued his business endeavours. In 2014, he taught part- time at Gaborone International School (GIS) while nurturing his transport business. “I had six horse-and-trailer trucks. With these I transported quarry from Gaborone to Jwaneng as well as to major Chinese construction sites,” he explained. But now he is back at GIS teaching full time. “Running a company is demanding, it needs time and patience.”
Mazvabo has enjoyed teaching in Botswana, despite the tedious process of applying for a teaching permit, every two years. “If permit renewals were done every five years I believe it would be better for progress,” he said. He also called on the Botswana government to be proactive when it comes to education; his concern is with the hours teachers are compelled to spend at school.
“Teachers are naturally the kind of people who work 24 hours. They have always taken work home and poured themselves into it. But that dedication is killed by the idea that they should work eight hours,” he said, adding that policy needs to be revised and should be headed by a person with experience in the education system.
Taking advantage of ICT
He also called on the government to take advantage of ICT. Computers and tablets have made information easily accessible to teachers and students.
As a teacher who has taught at private schools in Botswana, Mazvabo said the Botswana government should consider uniformity in schools. “I think there should be a governing system to ensure that all schools, government or private, are following the same syllabus. Uniformity is also needed in the medium of teaching, in terms of language. In Zimbabwe for example all schools are taught in English, but here in Botswana we have Tswana medium and English medium schools. This disadvantages Tswana medium students, as employers usually prefer English medium students,” said Mazvabo.
While his students pass with excellent results, he has coached the zonal winners in athletic competitions and had players selected into the Southern Schools soccer team. In 2002, Mazvabo produced the best grade seven results at provincial level. He believes education does not end: he has taken educational developmental courses on Infant and Child Safety for Schools by the Academy of Emergency and Critical Care; HIV/AIDS by Total Community Mobilisation personnel; and Marking of Letter and Composition by Education Officers from the Ministry of Education and Skills Development.