Why Is The Upper Middle Class In Botswana Oblivious To Their Privilege?

This weekend,after the incumbent president posted this tweet which i addressed on my open letter to him,Botswana Twitter was split into two factions,the topic being privilege.

One side was arguing that the president,looking at the conditions of his upbringing which include being the son of a minister and having went through basic education in private schools,was what one would call privileged if you compare that livelihood to that of the average Motswana.

The antagonists,on the other hand,were arguing that going through a private education system was not necessarily a sign of privilege but a result of effort put in by parents which lead to the posterity having access to better opportunities. In short,it was of their opinion that,their parents prioritizing their education was the result they had access to private school education and not their privilege.

The Cambridge English Dictionary defines privilege as "a right or advantage that only a small number of people have".According to Statistics Botswana,of the 181 826 students who pursued their secondary education in 2014,164 561 were admitted in government schools whilst only 7 751 were admitted in private schools.Comparing those statistics with the aforementioned dictionary definition of "privilege",it would be logical to assert that indeed private schooling in Botswana is a privilege.

Looking at the fact that the country's unemployment rate is at 18%,30% of its population live at or close to the poverty line and its GINI Coeffiecient,a measure of income equality in a country, stands at 0.52 (one of the worst in the world),with a GINI of 0 representing perfect equality and 1 represent absolute inequality,it would be safe to assume that the parents of most of the 90% of students in government schools have put them there not because they do not care about their children getting high quality education but simply because they cannot afford to pay for private schooling.So why was the antagonizing group so against this fact?Why is it so hard for them to accept that inequality in the country exists and that they are in the "good side" of that inequality,also known as privilege?

There is nothing wrong with being privileged because most of the time,an individual is born into that situation and not their own doing. What is the privileged individual's responsibility,however,is acknowledging their privilege and refraining from adopting the mindset that other people who did not find themselves with that privilege at their disposal do not have the right to complain and call out the apparent inequality.

The fact of the matter is that privilege most of the time gives the individual a comparative advantage over their peers who did not have access to that privilege, a concept i touched on when i was discussing male privilege on this post.

Private education,which i have already shown how it is a privilege in Botswana, also falls under this bracket,giving the individual access to better education,a fact supported by the disparity in quality of results of students in IGCSE and BGCSE examinations.Because of these better results of IGCSE students,a higher percentage of them,relative to those who sat for BGCSE examinations, are most likely to get into better tertiary institutions and consequently have access to better opportunities in the job market.

Acknowledging one's privilege does not equate to conceding to needing a push to be at some place in life. Even if you had went through your basic education in private schools and still find yourself in university or same jobs with people who went through the public school system,the fact still remains that compared to them,you still had a comparative advantage.

Although in Botswana it will take a long time to completely bridge the huge gap that currently persists between private and public education system,the upper middle class who can afford access to private education admitting that their privilege allows them to afford better quality education can go along way in nudging the government to work towards improving the structure of the public education system,something they have been dragging their feet to do for a long time.

A collective voice,which is only possible when both the upper and lower middle classes both advocate for improvement of public services,is what is needed to improve the citizens' quality of life,not just in education. Just because one can afford private schooling and health services does not mean that the humane conditions of public school and hospitals does not concern them.

Most private schooled students,despite a higher quality primary and secondary education,still end up in a government run tertiary education system which also needs a serious review. It is therefore imperative that even when they are in the private education system for their basic education level,upper middle classes still partake in addressing issues of a defunct public education system because they are also eventually going to be apart of it when they proceed to tertiary education.