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Study urges local millionaires to sponsor Education

A recent study titled: “Education financing research report at national level; the case of Botswana”, released this week has recommended that the rich people in Botswana should sponsor the education sector in the country.

Having analysed the Botswana context and based on other experiences in the country the study came up with some innovative options to provide additional resources to the education segment.“Some of these ways are taxing multi-millionaires; putting a levy on the mining sector, as well as increasing Official development assistance (ODA) support, and curbing illicit financial flows in the mining sector to make more resources available as government revenue,” study posits.

According to the study, Botswana has about 5 Multi-Millionaires; Abdul Satar Dada who owns Associated Investment Development Cooperation (AIDC), he is worth US$50 million. There is also Gulaam Husain Abdoola, owner of Turn Star Holdings, worth US$25 million; then Chandrakanth P Chauhun, from Sefalana Group and is worth US$12 million; as well as Ramachandran Ottapathu, Chief Executive Officer of Choppies who owns 19.5% in Choppies valued at US$60 million.

In addition there is Farouk Essop Ismail, Deputy CEO of Choppies who owns Far Properties worth US$35 Million and also 14.6% in Choppies worth US$45 million. Alexander Forbes, one of the Billionaires and philanthropist of the world states that‚ business was originated to produce happiness and not to pile up money.

Therefore, “these 5 rich people in Botswana and any upcoming rich persons could be taxed in a manner that their taxes are made special to meet education needs in the country,” study highlights. The study came with the recommendation after finding that the education financing model in Botswana is heavily dependent on government providing the resources.

Although government has provided resources to education sector above 20% and 6% of Botswana Gross Domestic Products (GDP), the resources are not adequate due to growing needs of the sector; resources to education sector are provided through a number of channels or line ministries creating coordinating challenges. It states that other than financing the sector from pubic resources, the sector does not have other innovative financing models. “Experiences of financing needs at the tertiary level have led to the education sector to begin to search for new innovative financing mechanisms as dependency on public resources is not sustainable,” it stresses.

Study suggests Botswana should also introduce education Levy

In addition to taxing millionaires, the study points out that Botswana is probably the only country in Southern Africa that has an alcohol levy imposed to generate funds for rehabilitation of alcoholics and to meet alcohol related ill health in public hospitals. Introduced in 2008, the levy rates have been increased over the years and over 1.2 billion Pula has been collected. Although the inception, management and its utilization has been a borne of contention in the country, resources have been generated that could go a long way to deal with effects of alcohol consumption in the country.

Borrowing a leaf from this and knowing well the importance of education to the country and that it is amongst the top five government priorities, the study states that “an education levy could be imposed also on certain commodities such as alcohol or fuel just to generate additional resources for education.”

Freezing up some portion of foreign reserves for education

According to the Reserve Bank of Botswana, foreign reserves are assets held by the Bank of Botswana in foreign currencies. The reserves are accumulated mainly through surpluses on the balance of payments together with increases to the value of existing foreign currency investments. The report states: It is important for Botswana to maintain adequate foreign exchange reserves to be able to meet the demand for foreign currency to pay for imports of goods and services on an ongoing basis, as well as meet other international payment obligations, including the costs of servicing international debt.  

“Much as the Botswana government has such reserves aimed at meeting import needs of the country as well as making sure that the country does not suffer from economic shocks, some of the reserves could be used to meet domestic needs such as financing education with the ever growing needs in the sector. The education sector can request special provision from the MFDP so that it could have the education budget increased,” it states.

The bank states that as at the end of 2014, the reserves had increased by 16.7 percent from P67.8 billion recorded a year earlier, due to net foreign exchange inflows and the depreciation of the Pula against major international currencies. The reserves were sufficient to cover approximately 18.5 months of imports of goods and services. As of April 2015, the reserves were P89.4 billion, the equivalent of 20 months of import cover.

Cost Sharing arrangement crops again

Most technicians in the study were of the opinion that much as the Botswana government provides 99.1% of financing to basic education services, this is not sustainable in the light that domestic resources are dwindling due to a number of reasons ranging from loss of revenue as some players in the private sector are shutting down operations in Botswana; there is also a growing need for financing to other social sectors such as health.

“It was therefore suggested that a cost-sharing model be introduced whereby parents and guardians who are well-to-do, should be able to meet costs of footing education for their wards and those that are not able to meet such costs can them be taken under government support programme fully,” it posits. Currently parents and guardians do not pay school fees for basic education but only at senior secondary level. Although this came out loud and repeatedly from many technicians, they were also quick to indicate that this will require political will to be implemented.

Botswana’s Key Education Priorities are articulated in the: National Policy on Education; the Revised National Policy on Education; the new Tertiary Education Policy; the National Vocational Training Policy; the National Credit and Qualification Framework; the Maitlamo Information Communications Technology (ICT) Policy, Vision 2016 (now Vision 2036), and the Science and Technology Policy, together with other government policies.

Current funding sources of education in Botswana

Meanwhile, current funding sources to the education sector in Botswana are: public resources through the National Budget; through Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) as grants and technical support from development partners; from the private sector and from parents and guardians of students through school fees and development fund payments.

The study looked at the financing model used for the last 8 years between 2010/2011 and 2017/2018 assessing existing financing documents, policies and their relevance and ability to provide education to persons in the hardest to reach areas of the country as well as to what extent the existing model is able to mobilize resources to adequately finance the sector.

It was conducted for the Botswana Coalition on Education for All (BOCEFA), with support from Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) through Africa Network Campaign on Education for All (ANCEFA) whose broad aim was to determine and suggest the best possible efficient and innovative education financing model for the country looking at the country context. In the study, Government officials were interviewed especially those from the Ministry of Finance Planning and Development; the Ministry of Basic Education (MOBE) Corporate services, the Ministry of Tertiary Education and Research and the Human Resources Development Council.

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Fighting vulture poisoning in KAZA region.

3rd February 2023
As a response to avert vulture poisoning currently going on in Botswana and KAZA region, Birdlife Botswana has collaborated with three other partners (BirdWatch Zambia, BirdLife International & Birdlife Zimbabwe) to tackle wildlife poisoning which by extension negatively affect vulture populations.

The Director of Birdlife Botswana, Motshereganyi Virat Kootshositse has revealed in an interview that the project which is funded by European Union’s main goal is to reduce poisoning related vultures’ death and consequently other wildlife species death within the KAZA region.

He highlighted that Chobe district in Botswana has been selected as a pilot site as it has experienced rampant incidents of vulture poisoning for the past few months. In August this year at least 50 endangered white backed vultures were reported dead at Chobe National Park, Botswana after feeding on a buffalo carcass laced with poison.  In November this year again 43 white backed vultures were found dead and two alive after feeding on a zebra suspected to have poisoned.  Other selected pilots’ sites are Kafue in Zambia and Hwange in Zimbabwe.

Kootshositse further explained they have established a national and regional Wildlife Poisoning Committee. He added that as for the national committee they have engaged various departments such as Crop Productions, Agro Chemicals, Department of Veterinary Services, Department of Wildlife and National Parks and other NGOs such as Raptors Botswana to come together and find a long-lasting solution to address wildlife poisoning in Botswana. ‘Let’s have a strategy or a plan together to tackle wildlife poisoning,’ he stated

He also decried that there is gap in the availability of data about vulture poisoning or wildlife in general. ‘If we have a central point for data, it will help in terms of reporting and advocacy’, he stated

He added that the regional committee comprises of law enforcement officers such as BDF and Botswana police, village leadership such as Village Development Committee and Kgosi. ‘We need to join hand together and protect the wildlife we have as this will increase our profile for conservation and this alone enhances our visitation and boost our local economy,’ he noted

Kootshositse noted that Birdlife together with DWNP also addressed series of meeting in some villages in the Chobe region recently. The purpose of kgotla meetings was to raise awareness on the conservation and protection of vultures in Chobe West communities.

‘After realizing that vulture poisoning in the Chobe areas become frequent, we realise that we need to do something about it.  ‘We did a public awareness by addressing several kgotla meetings in some villages in the Chobe west,’ he stated

He noted that next year they are going to have another round of consultations around the Chobe areas and the approach is to engage the community into planning process. ‘Residents should be part of the plan of actions and we are working with farmers committee in the areas to address vulture poisoning in the area, ‘he added

He added that they have found out that some common reasons for poisoning wildlife are farmers targeting predators such as lions in retaliation to killing of their livestock. Another common incident cross border poaching in the Chobe area as poachers will kills an elephant and poison its carcass targeting vultures because of their aerial circling alerting authorities about poaching activities.

Kootshositse noted that in the last cases it was disheartening the incidents occurred three months apart. He added that for the first time they found that some of the body parts of some vultures were missing. He added harvesting of body parts of vultures is not a common practice in Botswana, although it is used in some parts of Africa. ‘We suspect that someone took advantage of the availability of carcasses and started harvesting their body parts,’

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Giant in the making: Everton Mlalazi

3rd February 2023

The music industry is at a point where artists are jostling for space because there are so many aspirants trying to get their big break, thus creating stiff competition.

In the music business it’s about talent and positioning. You need to be at the right place at the right time with the right people around you to propel you forward.
Against all odds, Everton Mlalazi has managed to takeover the gospel scene effortlessly.
To him, it’s more than just a breakthrough to stardom, but a passion as well as mission directly appointed by the Lord.

Within a short space of 2 years after having decided to persue a solo career, Mlalazi has already made it into international music scene, with his music receiving considerable play on several gospel television and radio stations in Botswana including other regional stations like Trace Africa, One Gospel, Metro FM in South Africa, Hope FM in Kenya and literally all broadcast stations in Zimbabwe.

It doesn’t only stop there, as the musician has already been nominated 2 times and 2 awards which are Bulawayo Arts Awards (BAA) best Male artists 2022, StarFM listerners Choice Award, Best Newcomer 2021 and ZIMA Best Contemporary Gospel 2022, MLA awards Best Male artist & Best Gospel Artist 2022.

Everton’s inspiration stems from his ultimate passion and desire to lead people into Godly ways and it seems it’s only getting started.
The man is a gospel artist to put on your radar.

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African countries call on WHO to increase funding

2nd February 2023

Minister of Health Dr Edwin Dikoloti says Africa member states call on World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure equitable resource allocation for 2024-2025. Dr Dikoloti was speaking this week at the WHO Executive Board Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

He said countries agreed that there is need to address the budget and funding imbalances by increasing the programme budget share of countries and regions to 75% for the next year.

“The proposed budget for 2024-2025 marks an important milestone as it is the first in Programme Budget in which country offices will be allocated more than half of the total budget for the biennium. We highly welcome this approach which will enable the organization to deliver on its mandate while fulfilling the expectations for transparency, efficiency and accountability.”

The Botswana Health Minister commended member states on the extension of the General Programme of Work (GPD 13) and the Secretariat work to monitor the progress towards the triple billion targets, and the health-related SDGs.

“We welcome the Director’s general proposed five priorities which have crystalized into the “five Ps” that are aligned with the GPW 13 extension. Impact can only be achieved through close coordination with, and support to national health authorities. As such, the strengthening of country offices is instrumental, with particular focus on strengthening national health systems and on promoting more equitable access to health services.”

According to Dr Dikoloti, the majority of countries with UHC index that is below the global median are in the WHO Africa region. “For that, we call on the WHO to enhance capacity at the regional and national levels in order to accelerate progress. Currently, the regional office needs both technical and financial support in order to effectively address and support country needs.”

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