UB wants P703 million budget revised
The Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, Dr Alfred Madigele, on September 11, 2017 met the University of Botswana management where he was briefed on a number of issues pertaining to the status of the university and the challenges it was facing.
The Minister was accompanied by the Assistant Minister, Mr Fidelis Molao and the Permanent Secretary, Dr Theophilus Mooko. Dr Madigele said he was happy to have met with the Management of the University especially that there had not been a formal meeting since the Ministry was reconstituted about 10 months ago. The minister briefed the meeting about the mandate of the ministry part of which he said was to coordinate the policy on education as well as research, science and technology in addition to overseeing eight parastatal organisations including the University of Botswana.
Dr Madigele emphasised the need for collaboration, co-creation and co-consuming among the institutions in his Ministry. He also called for speedy implementation of suggestions from the Ministry retreats to draw their strategic plans. He noted the ministry was concerned about duplication of programmes across institutions of higher learning. As such, the ministry has embarked on a rationalisation of institutions and the plan was to subsume teacher training colleges under the Faculty of Education at the University of Botswana. He said it was the Ministry’s desire for UB to realise its vision to be the leading centre of academic excellence not only in Africa but beyond.
The minister also enjoined the University of Botswana to come up with a programme to assist around 7000 unemployed teachers most of whom were diploma certificate holders. Dr Madigele also took advantage of the meeting to advise training institutions to align their training programmes with industry and the country’s economic needs. In line with this, the minister said the Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) was in the process of finalising a plan that would guide training in the country.
Meanwhile, during presentations the UB Management raised concerns on a number of challenges key amongst them lack of enough funding to run certain programmes as well as to buy new equipment, maintain infrastructure and recruit international students. Another challenge was that UB was losing critical staff to other institutions such as the Botswana International University of Technology which has a better remuneration package.
The Acting Vice Chancellor, Professor Kgomotso Moahi, appealed to the minister to consider revising the budget in that with the current ceiling of P703 million the university was hamstrung to maintain equipment nor train staff because of operational costs which were way above the funds allocated. Professor Moahi said the idea was, however, not to make the university entirely dependent on government since they were working on a plan so that 50 percent of the funds come from government, 25 per cent from tuition and the rest from a third income stream they would put in place.
She said ultimately the aim was to come up with initiatives part of which were to formulate an entrepreneurship strategy that would help the university identify ways and means to generate income. In the process of reviewing strategic plan key among the initiatives was to ensure the university had multiple financial streams.
In addition, Professor Moahi said there was need to review some of the University’s internal processes and structures to help it serve its key stakeholders efficiently. She said UB has a niche in graduate studies hence the need to promote research and internationalisation of the university. Meanwhile, despite all the challenges the university was facing, there has been a number of achievements – especially infrastructural development and information and communication technology – which place it among the best institutions in Africa.
The minister was informed that every lecture room was equipped with the latest technology and lecturers no longer use chalk. The university also has skilled and offers quality programmes and its infrastructure is of global standards with almost 75 per cent of the infrastructure development plan which was developed between 2008 and 2009 having been completed in terms of the Gaborone campus. The university management congratulated the Department of Tertiary Education Financing for issuing sponsorship letters on time.
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Malawi appeals for help over Cyclone Freddy at PAP
As of yesterday evening, the death toll from the Cyclone in Malawi had risen from the initially reported 190 to 225 in a short period of time, over 20 000 people have been displaced, and the worst of fears are yet to come as the fatalities continue to mount. This was reported by a Malawi Member of Parliament attending the Pan African Parliament session in Midrand, South Africa, Hon Steven Mikiya.
Mikiya was giving a statement on behalf of Malawi as the ongoing Pan African Parliament in South Africa.
Mikiya said the Cyclone has wreaked the most havoc in our country’s Southern Region. “The Southern Region, has been hardest hit with widespread heavy rains and strong winds. This caused a rapid rise in water levels and subsequent flooding. Meanwhile, power supply has been disrupted, roads blocked off and rendered impassable and mudslides have also been widely reported,” he said.
He made a special appeal to the PAP: “Where I come from, there is a parable which I would like to share with you which says, “mzako weniweni umamudziwa panthawi ya mavuto.” Simply put, a friend in need is a friend indeed or put loosely, a person who helps at a difficult time is a friend you can rely on.”
Mikiya continued: “Yes! Misfortune has knocked on our door and left in its wake a trail of death and destruction that may take years to fully recover from. However, amidst these difficulties, I have every reason to believe that sometimes when you are in a dark place and think you have been buried, you have actually been planted. My belief, Mr. President, arises out of my faith in this gathering and out of the conviction that it is not coincidental that Cyclone Freddy hit Malawi and Mozambique while the delegations of both countries are here.”
According to Mikiya, the level of destruction, the loss of life, property and the decimation of the entire fabric of established communities has been unprecedented. He noted that all this, is coming at a time when Malawi was starting to show signs of recovery from the deadly COVID-19 pandemic that also came hard on the heels of Cyclone Ana and Cyclone Gombe that left a similar trail of devastation and destruction in Malawi and neighbouring countries.
As of Sunday, this week, from the 12th of March, Malawi and Mozambique have been facing the devastating effects of Cyclone Freddy that made a landfall over Mozambique on Saturday the 11th and reached Malawi by Sunday the 12th of March.
The Malawi legislator said he has absolute faith in the Pan African Parliament, which he described as “a league of nations brought together by a shared ancestry, history, identity as well as our beloved continent which we inhabit”.
Meanwhile, Malawi President, Lazarus Chakwera, has declared a State of Disaster in the affected areas effectively appealing for local and international support for the affected families.
Mikiya appealed to the Pan African Parliament drawing “positive” inspiration from Europe which rallied around Turkey after the destructive earthquakes to bring the much-needed relief and humanitarian aid to the people of Turkey.
He said Africa should demonstrate to the world that the African Union and its Organs are not mere talk shows, but effective institutions which stand up when it matters most.
“Alone, it may take us a lifetime to fully recover, but together, in the Pan-Africanist spirit of Ubuntu, our lives and livelihoods will return to a semblance of normality in record time. This is the time to live by our operative mantra, “One Africa, One Voice.” Mikiya concluded.