Teaching Students to be Morally Responsible Citizens
“Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraints and run wild… But happy are they whose God is the Lord.” (Proverbs 29: 18, Psalms 144: 15).
Dear friends, greeting from the Republic of Botswana!
I have been on assignment for the past year at Kgolagano College in Gaborone Botswana. When I was looking for a scripture that best depicts the state of affairs in the nation’s capital, the above scripture bellowed Gaborone. Let me begin by providing the following introduction. The Republic of Botswana is situated toward the southern tip of Africa. Gaborone is the largest city in Botswana and is also its capital. The last census (June, 2018), estimates the residency in Gaborone at approximately 232,000. The country is topographically flat, with up to 70 percent of its territory being the Kalahari Desert. It is bordered by South Africa to the south and southeast, Namibia to the west and north, and Zimbabwe to the northeast.
Although the country is best known for its exclusive safari destinations (Okavango Delta, the Kalahari Desert and Chobe National Park), it is also proud of its manufacturing, textile and mining industries. Remarkably, the processing of diamonds has become the focal industry, and today Botswana is the world’s largest producer of gem diamonds. The success of the diamond industry has been the main impetus in transforming Botswana into a middle-income nation.
Whilst Botswana has maintained a progressive democracy over several decades, in recent history (essentially the last seven years) the moral and ethical composition, particularly in Gaborone, continues to deteriorate. The following example of both extremes (success and deterioration) comes to mind. Botswana made significant advancement in areas of health, including life expectancy and in infant and child mortality. The fertility rate fell from more than 5 children per woman in the mid-1980’s to approximately 2.4 by 2013. This reduction was attributed to a host of factors: higher education among women, greater participation of women in the workforce, and a strong national family planning program, just to name a few.
Dissimilar to its successes, the country became devastated by HIV/AIDS in the 1990’s and today, Botswana has the third highest rate of HIV/AIDS in the world at approximately 22%. Moreover, and regrettably so, the people here in Gaborone have become targets of petty street crimes and rape largely due to an increase in unemployment, drug trafficking, and the near collapse of the nuclear and extended family structures. In other words, the concept of Botho seems to be fading! It is my view, that countries who knowingly disobey God and further do not have sound moral structures in place will cease to remain on the cutting-edge. To this end, Kgolagano College has become a reformist by taking a progressive stand for the “Word of God and the demonstration of Agape love.” I will say more about that below.
As part of my responsibilities at Kgolagano, I visit churches for the purpose of seeking new students and accordingly, have opportunity to talk with the pastors as well as leaders within Gaborone. And with collective voices they concur (as do I) that the moral decline in Gaborone is solvable. The residents echo loudly, “Although we are pleased that more residents at the grassroots level are receiving better educational opportunities, what we really desire is for schools and churches to work together to train our youth and young adults principles of integrity, and to know and love God.
Friends, Kgolagano college is one of the few institutions that continues to work alongside our churches to provide spiritual and theological direction, which is necessary to strengthen the integrity and mores of its citizenry. And although our focus will always remain biblical and theological in its orientation, our programs prepare it students for many careers. Not only do our students become pastors and mission co-workers, but they also serve as educators, counselors, lawyers, and entrepreneurs and many hold responsible positions within parliament. For example, the minister of Tertiary Education is a graduate of Kgolagano College and the keynote speaker for Kgolagano 2018 graduation is also a graduate who serves in parliament. It is to this end that I am convinced that our College, is contributing significantly to Botswana, by not only providing excellent erudition, but are taking the right steps in teaching its students to be morally responsible citizens.
In recent months, members of our management staff have had meaningful conversations with the relevant people in parliament and people within the Botswana Quality Assurance office (BQA). The BQA ensures that the educational institutions meet the highest standards.
Therefore, we are asking the government to provide us with additional subsidizations so that we can add more eligible students to our enrollment. The city’s desire is that Kgolagano will continue to be a beacon shining ever so brightly that it will cause other institutions to realize the need for our younger generations to be morally and ethically prepared and that Botswana can continue to move forward.
Please pray that:
- The government will be sympathetic to our requests by providing more government funding for eligible students to attend Kgolagano because at the moment they only provide funding for 25 students per year and those students must be between the ages of 18 and 25 years. The majority of our students, however, are between the ages of 30 and 60 years.
- Parliament will provide greater job opportunities within the government and that corporations will hire our graduates.
- Pray that our overall student population and staff will seek to honor our God in word and in deed. This we ask in the name of our Lord, Jesus the Christ!
“Thy word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path” Psalms 119: 105
Victoria Peagler serves with Kgolagano Theological College in Botswana. Her appointment is made possible by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund, Our Church’s Wider Mission, and your special gifts.