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Mopati Mino Polelo [14 March 1965 - 28 February 2010]

Dr Polelo was elected to the executive of Saches at the BGM held at the 2009 Annual Conference in the Winelands. He was a young scholar committed to comparative education with a keen interested in both educational research and building the capacity to learn from each other. He had a particular concern for human rights, social justice and equity. The day before he died in an automobile accident on the Molepolole Road near the new Bokamoso Hospital, he had been elected the new Chairperson of the Botswana Educational Research Association (BERA).

Mopati Mino PoleloThe paper he presented at Saches 2009, “Reforming and re-forming teacher education in Botswana: Signposts of the future”, was re-written for publication. The abstract at Saches 2009 reads, “In 2004, the Botswana government initiated a tertiary education policy reform process that culminated with the adoption of a white paper in 2008. Alongside this policy initiative, a flurry of other macro state policy initiatives emerged, articulated in key texts such as a government commissioned study report on teacher supply and demand. This paper, drawing from interview data of a broad study on tertiary education policy making and recommendations of the teacher supply and demand study, to argue that while these reforms are premised on moving teacher education towards rationality, cost effectiveness, competitiveness and efficiency, notions that leap from the globally diffused neoliberal discourse, they are part of a broad process of reengineering both the Botswana state and teacher education along market principles. The future of Botswana’s teacher education is located within this policy milieu.” It should appear posthumously.

Mino Polelo earned his PhD from the University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia in 2008. It’s title is “The Small State and Education Policy in Botswana: Navigating Access, Equity and Consultative Tertiary Education Policy Making”. It examines consultative tertiary education policymaking in Botswana and determines whose interests it represents. One of the findings established by the study regarding access and equity is “that students from high income backgrounds, middleclass recruiting schools, and metropolitan areas, are more likely to access the higher education sub-sector of Botswana’s tertiary education system”.

He was due for promotion to Senior Lecturer in March 2010. It is not known if the University of Botswana will do this posthumously. His six articles in peer referred journals and his record of research, publication (including conferences, seminars and research reports), and his community service plus his record as a teacher would meet the criteria for promotion.

He liked Karate and was deputy chair of Japanese Karate Association of Botswana. He was a long-time member of the Botswana National Front. He also wrote poetry and had published a book of short stories and a novel in Setswana for use in junior secondary schools.

Mino Polelo was a son of Molepolole who attended both primary and secondary schools there. He earned his BA and PGDE from the University of Botswana in 1988 and 1989. He taught in secondary schools for six years and then became a Staff Development Fellow at the Molepolole College of Education. He earned an MA in 1998 from the University of London. His dissertation was entitled, “Quantitative Educational Development and Inequalities in Botswana’s School System”. He went on to work with a BERA research team studying dropping out in remote area primary schools. He joined the University of Botswana in 2001.

When he died he was involved in seven on-going research projects either as a consultant, principal researcher or a member of a team, including being part of the HSRC-Stanford University-University of Botswana regional study on understanding student achievement in Southern Africa.

Mino Polelo is survived by his mother, three sisters, his wife Ludo from Tonata, and three children.

 

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