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Incorruptible Modungwa escaped staged DCEC probes

The Botswana Qualifications Authority (BQA) founding CEO, Abel Modungwa leaves the organisation a happy man after maintaining his integrity and frustrating spurious cash chasing entrepreneurs who see the tertiary education sector as a quick buck avenue.

Having transformed the higher education set-up in Botswana despite what he calls “efforts to frustrate me” by some high ranking officials and those with political connections, Modungwa says his successor will roll on clean wheels. In an interview this week, Modungwa did not bar any holds, and in a tell-all way spewed venom, calling out those who had tried to oust him through unorthodox means. The malign of Modungwa’s reputation was attracted, he said, by his role of being a regulator in the tertiary education sector.

 Here is why Modungwa believes he was a targeted man: Botswana’s tertiary education sector has seen unprecedented boom in the last 10 years. During the 2014/15 financial year, of the 60 583 student enrolled in tertiary institutions, 95 per cent were reported to be government sponsored. This has consequently resulted in tuition fees and allowances spent by government on sponsored students averaging P2 billion in the last seven years. Private tertiary institutions which are springing up now and then compete for these government sponsored students. They conjure programmes frequently so that they attract more students, and Modungwa’s BQA has to accredit the programmes.

It is now common knowledge that the Ministry of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology has also drastically reduced the number of students sent to study abroad. During the 2007/08 financial year 2706 students were sent to study abroad compared to only 204 during the 2014/15 financial year.

The fact that Botswana is the highest spender on education in proportion to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the region but remain inferior to countries like South Africa, Namibia and Mauritius in terms of access to tertiary education, is also an attraction to tertiary education entrepreneurs. Modungwa categorically states that whoever is at the helm of a regulatory body like the BQA will face all sorts of challenges. But he had not projected that his name will be marinated with false corruption allegations by tertiary education entrepreneurs who are frustrated by the system of accreditation.

Modungwa, who vacated the BQA top office on the 10th of this month after his two year contract elapsed, said for over 17 years as the leader of the parastatal some individuals’ orchestrated plans to oust him through unconventional means. The outgoing CEO confirms that he has survived a number of trumped up tips to the DCEC.

The ever composed Bobonong born leader also said that the numerous investigations by the Directorate on Corruption Crime and Economic (DCEC) could not unearth any corruption because he was an innocent man. He said the DCEC has not found any link or evidence associating him with corrupt dealings. “That post is tough you need to be vigilant and avoid taking anything that comes your way especially from your customers. I have been investigated by DCEC on numerous occasions but I prevailed because there was nothing to suggest any corruption on my part,” he told this newspaper.

He said the investigations were as a result of allegations levelled against him by institutions and or individuals. “Being a regulator is not an ordinary task if you accredit this one and not the other they report you to DCEC that you could be in some underhand dealings. But I have always reasoned with the law and prevailed.”

But Modungwa has a word or two directed at government. He said he had established a cordial relationship with his former employer, although there were always differing points on some matters. “We had a cordial relationship, but here and there we disagreed but we always found common ground,” he said.

However, the outgoing BQA Chief Executive borrowed from the veteran politician, Daniel Kwelagobe’s script by declaring that those in leadership must go back to the drawing board. Modungwa who will now be a full-time pastor reckons the government should introspect and go back crossroads to realign certain things. He shared that there was need for introspection and crossover, cementing his views with biblical references, especially the book of Mark 4: 35 (“let us cross over to the other side”).

“This verse urges us to cross over to the other side where there is no corruption, injustice, and excessive self-interest. I am concerned about the seeping culture of injustice, unfairness, corruption, and lack of integrity that is taking root in our country.” Although he pleaded not to cite any examples, he says he was worried by the direction this country had taken, especially the growing trend of poor governance.

Before the formation of BQA, that during the days of the Botswana Training Authority (BOTA), Modungwa told this newspaper that it was common practice for private and public institutions to offer practical subjects, yet they had no proper laboratories and equipment for students to carry out such practical training. He said this situation led to graduates who were not job-ready – we had to fix this, he said.

“There were many fly-by-night institutions. It was common for students to pay fees, and never know what happened to the institution that had promised to be the gateway to their success.” This, he said, forced the authority to develop a database of registered and accredited institutions.

According to Modungwa, who served public institutions for 35 years, employers were not happy because they would employ these seemingly well-trained graduates who, it turned out, could not do the work – and had to be taught practically everything on the job, and yet they had received formal training. “BQA therefore had to ensure compliance to the accreditation requirements and emphasized practical’s for practical courses,” he asserted.

Under the leadership of Modungwa, BQA has sailed through turbulent waters but achieved its mandate. The Authority has a big task – and in that journey the Modungwa led institution has closed down up to 30 non-compliant tertiary education providers. BQA, as a regulatory body was established to improve the quality of teaching and learning through the establishment of the overarching National Credit and Qualifications Framework (NCQF) and a common quality assurance platform for all qualifications. 

This called on the leadership to coordinate the development of a seamless Education and Training System that was robust and meets the needs of learners and of both local and international markets.  Modungwa’s visionary leadership has seen him being the current Secretariat and member of the Interim Board of Southern African Quality Assurance Network (SAQAN). Modungwa leaves BQA when it has almost filly transitioned to a new phase of its mandate. During the recent countrywide tours, BQA took the opportunity to introduce Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL), a new programme the Authority will roll out next year.

The tour was aimed at educating the public about the transitional arrangements that BQA is undergoing. BQA embarked on its second country tour, starting 6th November 2017 to 18th November 2017, following the first one in August. According to Modungwa, RPL is a process by which learning and experience of a candidate, irrespective of how it was obtained, is compared with the learning outcomes or units standards required for a specific qualification.

He said this is critical in an outcome-based education system where a learner accumulates credits through formal, informal and non-formal learning. As a parting shot, Modungwa advised the general public was advised to verify that the education training providers they enrol with are registered by BQA and that their programmes are accredited.

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Inequalities Faced by Individuals with Disabilities

22nd February 2024

The government’s efforts to integrate individuals with disabilities in Botswana society are being hampered by budgetary constraints. Those with disabilities face inequalities in budgetary allocations in the health and education sectors. For instance, it is reported that the government allocates higher budgetary funds to the general health sector, while marginal allocations are proposed for the development and implementation of the National Primary Health Care guidelines and Standards for those with Disabilities. This shows that in terms of budgetary solutions, the government’s proposed initiatives in improving the health and well-being of those with disabilities remain futile as there is not enough money going towards disability-specific health programs. On the other hand, limited budgetary allocations to the Special Education Unit also are a primary contributor to the inequalities faced by children with disabilities. The government only provides for the employment of 15 teachers with qualifications in special education despite the large numbers of children with intellectual disabilities that are in need of special education throughout Botswana. Such disproportional allocation of resources inhibits the capacity to provide affordable and accessible assisted technology and residential support services for those with disabilities. Given the fact that a different amount of resources have been availed to the education and health sectors, the general understanding is that the government is not doing enough to ensure that adequate resources are distributed to disability-specific programs and facilities such as barrier-free environments, residential homes, and special education schools for children with disabilities.

 

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Disability characterized by exclusion

22nd February 2024

Disability in Botswana, like in many other nations, has been characterized by exclusion, discrimination, and stigmatization. Negative attitudes towards individuals with disabilities (IWDs) have led to barriers in education, employment, and access to facilities and information. The lack of disability-specific legislation in Botswana has further perpetuated the exclusion of IWDs from society.

The National Policy on Care for People with Disabilities (NPCPD) in Botswana, established in 1996, aims to recognize and protect the rights and dignity of individuals with disabilities. The policy emphasizes the importance of integration and equal opportunities for IWDs in various sectors such as health, education, employment, and social development. While the policy provides a framework for addressing disability issues, it falls short of enacting disability-specific legislation to protect the rights of IWDs.

In 2010, the Government of Botswana established an office for IWDs within the Office of the President to coordinate disability-related policies and programs. While this office plays a crucial role in mobilizing resources for the implementation of policies, its approach to service delivery is rooted in social welfare, focusing on the care of IWDs as a social burden rather than recognizing their rights.

The lack of disability-specific legislation in Botswana has hindered the recognition of the rights of IWDs and the enactment of laws to protect them from discrimination and exclusion. Without legal protections in place, IWDs continue to face barriers in education, employment, and access to facilities and information, perpetuating their exclusion from society.

In order to address the exclusion of IWDs in Botswana, it is crucial for the government to prioritize the enactment of disability-specific legislation to protect their rights and ensure equal opportunities for all. By recognizing the rights and dignity of individuals with disabilities, Botswana can work towards creating a more inclusive society where IWDs are valued and included in all aspects of life.

 

 

 

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DJ Bafana’s one man show on the cards

21st February 2024

DJ Bafana, a talented DJ from Francistown, is gearing up to host his very own one-man show, a groundbreaking event that aims to not only showcase his skills but also empower fellow musicians. This ambitious project is currently in the planning stages, with DJ Bafana actively seeking out potential sponsors to help bring his vision to life.

In a recent interview with WeekendPost, DJ Bafana revealed that he is in talks with two potential venues, Limpopo Gardens and Molapo Leisure Gardens, to host his show. However, he is facing challenges in securing sponsorships from companies, particularly those who do not fully understand the importance of music-related events. Despite this setback, DJ Bafana remains determined to make his one-man show a reality and to use it as a platform to empower and support other artists in the industry.

What sets DJ Bafana’s show apart is the fact that he will be making history as the first person living with a disability to host a one-man show in Botswana. This milestone is a testament to his resilience and determination to break barriers and pave the way for others in similar situations. By showcasing his talent and passion for music, DJ Bafana is not only proving his worth as an artist but also inspiring others to pursue their dreams, regardless of any obstacles they may face.

As DJ Bafana continues to work towards making his one-man show a reality, he remains focused on his goal of empowering and uplifting his fellow musicians. Through his dedication and perseverance, he is setting an example for others to follow and showing that anything is possible with hard work and determination. The date for the show is yet to be announced, but one thing is for certain – DJ Bafana’s one-man show is sure to be a memorable and inspiring event for all who attend.

 

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