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Govt reforms the tertiary education funding

Ministry of Tertiary Education, Research Science and Technology is reforming its tertiary education funding, with new draft policy placing emphasis on funding students who pursue technical and vocational training.

Minister of Tertiary Education, Research and Technology Dr Alfred Madigele has this week, in an exclusive interview revealed that the current funding model, the Grant Loan Scheme which was introduced in 1995 is going under review. “The 1995 Grant Loan Scheme was mainly catering for government jobs. It was responding to white-collar jobs only. It was looking at teaching carers and social sciences programmes, which are essentially white-collar jobs,” said Dr Madigele.

“Those sectors which were catered for are now saturated such that there are fewer and fewer vacancies in those sectors. Essentially, we need to re-invent the Grant Loach Scheme for tertiary education financing to respond [to today’s needs].” Dr Madigele, who is also legislator for Molapowabojang-Mmathethe constituency said currently the government is reviewing the tertiary education financing policy to respond to the challenges the country faces now.

“There are a lot of educated people with Diplomas, Degrees, Masters or even PhDs but they do not have jobs. It does not necessarily mean there are no jobs in Botswana. It means those particular sectors are saturated,” observed Dr Madigele. He said, sectors such as tourism, mining, construction present a wide range of opportunities for other careers but the sectors are dominated by foreign nationals. Dr Madigele is of the view that the country has not done enough to produce enough artisans, hence the jobs are taken by people from outside.

“If you walk around town, or go to CBD [Central Business District] you would find that most of construction employees, plumbers and others are done by our neighbours from Zimbabwe, Chinese and other foreign nationals. These are jobs which actually should be going to Batswana,” he stated.

The former Assistant Minister of Health noted that in the review that his ministry is undertaking, they are taking into consideration these careers which are in demand, by offering variety of options for pursuing them, including up-skilling citizens as well are re-tolling them to be able to deliver the desired results. “Within the draft policy, we want to put more emphasis on the TVET (Technical and Vocational Education Training) sector which we believe it will help us to reduce unemployment,” he said.

A report released by Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) in 2016 titled “Tertiary Education at a Glance” indicated that enrolment by government technical colleges is very low and is not rising in any significant way.  “This means that Technician level training in Botswana has a very low share of tertiary enrolments. Given that a growing economy needs all kinds of technicians in the critical skill areas like Electrical/Electronics, Construction/Building, computer engineering, Instrumentation and mechanical engineering this trend is worrying,” reads the report.

“The technical colleges seem to have good infrastructure that is comparable to others. So this trend shows us anecdotally that there may well be low utilisation of existing resources in the technical Colleges.” The report further indicates that data from government technical colleges shows an inconsistent and erratic trend over the years with some courses done one year and then seemingly abandoned the next enrolment.

“It would appear that technician level training across the colleges could benefit from a better coordination and policy guidance given that the demand for training places is very high nevertheless.” In a recent interview with WeekendPost, Minister of Basic Education Dr Unity Dow contended that part of the problem regarding technical colleges’ enrolment was the perception formed on them. She is said there is a need to brand them so that they become attractive.

FUTURE OF TERTIARY EDUCATION FUNDING

In 2016, Madigele told the Tertiary Education Pitso organised by the Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) that Botswana, like many other countries faced the challenge of tertiary education financing occasioned in part by what he called “massification”: a massive increase in tertiary education enrolment; ever increasing costs; equally important competing priorities and dwindling financial resources.

The minister indicated that although government had in recent years talked about cost sharing at tertiary education, it is not a decision his ministry has taken yet. Madigele said currently the government avails sponsorship to 10 000 students on average out of a possible 25 000 who graduate from Botswana General Certificate for Secondary Education (BGCSE). He said, because government wants to increase access to tertiary education, it means other measures have to be put in place to make it sustainable.

“This format of sponsorship alone cannot be able to sponsor all the students. One option is income contingent loans, which means students will start paying the loans once they start working after graduation,” he said. “This will be a form of cost-sharing because the students will be able to pay back the money once they start working.” The government is also considering doing away with the grant loan scheme, which means they should be other options for financing other programmes which are not necessarily part of the one considered to be seriously in demand.

“You will find out that sometimes a student has passion for music or dancing, and they have not scored good marks but want to pursue their passion. We are thinking of introducing government guaranteed loans in partnership with private banks to be able to provide these kinds of loans to these individuals, which is allowing people to diversify what they want to do,” he said.

Dr Madigele hinted on engaging other stakeholders, including Ministry of Finance about the possibility of using Government Employee Motor Vehicle and Residential Property Advance Guaranteed Scheme (GEMVAS) to also include education financing as part of the scheme.
Government has admitted to failing to recover sponsorship loans from employees who benefited from the government grant loan scheme. It is estimated that government is owed billions of pula in unrecovered loans. Due to failure by government to put mechanism in place, Dr Madigele said, government is currently recovering about P20 million annually.    

“We need to put in place legislative framework that will facilitate Department of Tertiary Education Financing (DTEF) to be able to recover loans. As of now the system is not in place; DTEF does not have the necessary legal instruments, for instance, there is no law that forces employers to declare employees who were government sponsored and how much they earn,” he said. “We also need to create a one-stop centre like Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) to be able to collect data and be able to track those who are working and paying taxes.”

He said it is not easy to change the government machinery as it takes a long time because changing one law may result in other laws being changed as well. Following the creation of HRDC, the mandate of tertiary education funding was transferred from DTEF to the HRDC, which was known previously as Tertiary Education Council (TEC).

Madigele has also dismissed any possibility of free education in Botswana at tertiary level as well as possibility of allowance increment due to government’s desire to increase access to tertiary education. He also noted that the economy is not performing well, which makes it difficult for government to consider allowance increment for tertiary students.

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The curtain came down at the PAP session with pomp and FUNFAIR

23rd March 2023

It was pomp and funfair at the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) on March 18 as the African Cultural Music and Dance Association (ACUMDA) brought the curtains down on the PAP session with a musical performance. 

 

The occasion was the celebration of the Pan-African Parliament Day (PAP Day) which commemorated the inauguration of the first Parliament of the PAP on 18 March 2004 at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

 

The celebrations took place at the seat of the Parliament in Midrand to “reflect on the journey” as the institution turns 19. The event sought to retrace the origin and context of the establishment of the PAP.

 

The celebrations included musical performances by ACUMDA and a presentation by Prof. Motshekga Mathole of the Kara Heritage Institute on “Whither Pan-Africanism, African Culture, and Heritage.”

 

The PAP Day was officially launched in 2021 to educate citizens about the Continental Parliament and ignite conversations about its future in line with its mandate.

 

The establishment of the PAP among the AU organs signalled a historical milestone and the most important development in the strengthening of the AU institutional architecture. It laid solid groundwork for democratic governance and oversight within the African Union system and provided a formal “platform for the peoples of Africa to get involved in discussions and decision-making on issues affecting the continent.”

 

The genesis of the PAP can be legally traced back to 1991 with the adoption of the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community, adopted on June 3, 1991, in Abuja (also known as the Abuja Treaty). This treaty defined the pillars and grounds for realizing economic development and integration in Africa and called for the creation of a continental parliament, among a set of other organs, as tools for the realization of African integration and economic development. This call was reemphasized in the Sirte Declaration of 1999, which called for the accelerated implementation of the provisions of the Abuja Treaty.

 

PAP celebrated its ten years of existence in March 2014, a year which coincided with the adoption, on June 27, 2014, in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, of the Protocol to the Constitutive Act of the African Union relating to the Pan-African Parliament (PAP Malabo Protocol), which, once in force, will transform the PAP into a legislative body of the AU. It requires a minimum of 28 countries to ratify it before it comes into force.

 

Therefore, the commemoration of PAP Day serves as a reminder to the decision-makers around the continent to fulfil their commitment to the PAP by ratifying its Protocol, 19 years after sanctioning its establishment. 14 AU member states have so far ratified the Malabo Protocol.

 

The celebrations of PAP Day coincided with the closing ceremony of the sitting of the PAP Permanent Committees and other organs. The Sitting took place in Midrand, South Africa under the AU theme for 2023, “Accelerating the implementation of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)” from 6 to 17 March 2023.

 

PAP President, H.E. Chief Fortune Charumbira, expressed appreciation to members for their commitment during the two-week engagement.

 

“We have come to the end of our program, and it is appropriate that we end on a high note with the PAP Day celebrations. 

“We will, upon your return to your respective countries, ensure that the work achieved over the past two weeks is transmitted to the national level for the benefit of our citizens,” concluded H.E. Chief Charumbira.

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PAP needs to priorities land issues-Prof Mathole

23rd March 2023

Prof Motshekga Mathole of the Kara Heritage Institute has advised the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) to prioritise the land issue in the continent if they are to remain relevant.

He said this while addressing the Plenary during the commemoration of PAP Day held at the PAP Chambers in Midrand, South Africa

The PAP Day was officially launched in 2021 to commemorate the inauguration of the first Parliament on 18 March 2004 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Intended as a platform for people of all African states to be involved in discussions and decision-making on problems and challenges facing the continent.

In a speech titled “Whither Pan-Africanism, African Culture, and Heritage,” Prof Mathole stated that for PAP to remain relevant, it must address the continent’s key land dilemma, which he feels is the core cause of all problems plaguing the continent

“If this Parliament is to be taken seriously, ownership of land and natural resources must be prioritized at the national and continental levels. Africans are not poor; they are impoverished by imperialist nations that continue to hold African land and natural resources,” said Prof Mathole.

“When African leaders took power from colonialists, they had to cope with poverty, unemployment, and other issues, but they ignored land issues. That is why Africa as a whole is poor today. Because our land and minerals are still in the hands of colonizers, Africa must rely on Ukraine for food and Europe for medical.”

Prof Mathole believes that the organization of the masses is critical as cultural revolution is the only solution to Africa’s most problems.

“We need a cultural revolution for Africa, and that revolution can only occur if the masses and people are organized. First, we need a council of African monarchs since they are the keepers of African arts, culture, and heritage. We need an African traditional health practitioners council because there is no ailment on the planet that cannot be healed by Africans; the only problem is that Africans do not harvest and process their own herbs,” he said.

Meanwhile, PAP President, H.E. Hon Chief Fortune Charumbira expressed satisfaction with the commitment displayed throughout the two-week period and said the PAP Day celebrations were befitting curtains down to the august event.

“On this high note of our two-week engagement, it is appropriate that we close our program on a high note with PAP celebrations, and I would like to thank everyone for your commitment, and please continue to be committed,” said H.E Hon Chief Charumbira.

PAP’s purpose as set out in Article 17 of the African Union Constitutive Act, is “to ensure the full participation of African people in the development and economic integration of the continent”. As it stands, the mandate of the Parliament extends to consultation and playing an advisory and oversight role for all AU organs pending the ratification protocol.

Also known as the Malabo Protocol, the Protocol to the consultative act of the AU relating to the PAP was adopted at the Assembly of Heads of State and Government summit in June 2014 and is intended to extend the powers of the PAP into a fully-fledged legislative organ. It requires a minimum of 28 countries to ratify it before it comes into force.

The commemoration of the PAP Day, therefore, serves as a reminder to the decision-makers around the continent to fulfil their commitment to the PAP by ratifying its Protocol, 17 years after sanctioning its establishment. 14 AU member states have so far ratified the Malabo Protocol.

The PAP Day commemoration also aims to educate citizens about the PAP and ignite conversations about the future of the continental Parliament in line with its mandate.

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DPP drops Kably threat to kill case

22nd March 2023

The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Chief Whip and Member of Parliament for Letlhakeng/Lephephe Liakat Kably has welcomed the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP)’s decision not to prosecute BDP councillor, Meshack Tshenyego who allegedly threatened to kill him. However, the legislator has warned that should anything happen to his life, the state and the courts will have to account.

In an interview with this publication, Kablay said he has heard that the DPP has declined to prosecute Tshenyego in a case in which he threatened to kill him adding that the reasons he received are that there was not enough evidence to prosecute. “I am fine and at peace with the decision not to prosecute over evidential deficits but I must warn that should anything happen to my life both the DPP and the Magistrate will have to account,” Kablay said.

Connectedly, Kably said he has made peace with Tshenyego, “we have made peace and he even called me where upon we agreed to work for the party and bury the hatchet”.

The DPP reportedly entered into a Nolle Prosequi in the matter, meaning that no action would be taken against the former Letlhakeng Sub-district council chairperson and currently councillor for Matshwabisi.

According to the charge sheet before the Court, councilor Tshenyego on July 8th, 2022 allegedly threatened MP Kably by indirectly uttering the following words to nominatedcouncilor Anderson Molebogi Mathibe, “Mosadi wa ga Liakat le ban aba gagwe ba tsile go lela, Mosadi wame le banake le bone ba tsile go lela. E tla re re mo meeting, ka re tsena meeting mmogo, ke tla mo tlolela a bo ke mmolaya.”

Loosely translated this means, Liakat’s wife and children are going to shed tears and my wife and kids will shed tears too. I will jump on him and kill him during a meeting.

Mathibe is said to have recorded the meeting and forwarded it to Kably who reported the matter to the police.

In a notice to the Magistrate Court to have the case against Tshenyego, acting director of Public Prosecutions, Wesson Manchwe  cited the nolle prosequi by the director of public prosecution in terms of section 51 A (30) of the Constitution and section 10 of the criminal procedure and evidence act (CAP 08:02) laws of Botswana as reasons for dropping the charges.

A nolle prosequi is a formal notice of abandonment by a plaintiff or prosecutor of all or part of a suit or action.

“In pursuance of my powers under section 51 A (300 of the Constitution and section 10 of the criminal procedure and evidence act (CAP 08:02) laws of Botswana, I do hereby stop and discontinue criminal proceedings against the accused Meshack Tshenyego in the Kweneng Administrative District, CR.No.1077/07/2022 being the case of the State vs Tshenyego,” said Manchwe. The acting director had drafted the notice dropping the charges on 13th day of March 2023.

The case then resumed before the Molepolole Magistrate Solomon Setshedi on the 14th of March 2023. The Magistrate issued an order directing “that matters be withdrawn with prejudice to the State, accused is acquitted and discharged.”

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