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.
Former Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Member of Parliament for Gaborone North, Haskins Nkaigwa has confirmed his departure from opposition fold to re-join the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
Nkaigwa said opposition is extremely divided and the leadership not in talking terms. “They are planning evil against each other. Nothing much will be achieved,” Nkaigwa told WeekendPost.
“I believe my time in the opposition has come to an end. It’s time to be of value to rebuilding our nation and economy of the country. Remember the BDP is where I started my political journey. It is home,” he said.
“Despite all challenges currently facing the world, President Masisi will be far with his promises to Batswana. A leader always have the interest of the people at heart despite how some decisions may look to be unpopular with the people.
“I have faith and full confidence in President Dr Masisi leadership. We shall overcome as party and nation the current challenges bedevilling nations. BDP will emerge stronger. President Masisi will always have my backing.”
Nkaigwa served as opposition legislator between 2014-2019 representing Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) under UDC banner. He joined BMD in 2011 at the height public servant strike whilst Gaborone City Deputy Mayor. He eventually rose to become the mayor same year, after BDP lost majority in the GCC.
Nkaigwa had been a member of Botswana National Front (BNF), having joined from Alliance for Progressives (AP) in 2019.
Botswana has received assistance worth over P100 million from Japanese government since 2019, making the latter of the largest donors to Botswana in recent years.
The assistance include relatively large-scale grant aid programmes such as the COVID-19 programme (to provide medical equipment; P34 million), the digital terrestrial television programme (to distribute receivers to the underprivileged, P17 million), the agriculture promotion programme (to provide agricultural machinery and equipment, P53million).
“As 2020 was a particularly difficult year, where COVID-19 hit Botswana’s economy and society hard, Japan felt the need to assist Botswana as our friend,” said Japan’s new Ambassador to Botswana, Hoshiyama Takashi.
“It is for this reason that grants of over P100 million were awarded to Botswana for the above mentioned projects.”
Japan is now the world’s fourth highest ranking donor country in terms of Official Development Assistance (ODA).
From 1991 to 2000, Japan continued as the top donor country in the world and contributed to Asia’s miracle economic development.
From 1993 onwards, the TICAD process commenced through Japan’s initiative as stated earlier. Japan’s main contribution has been in the form of Yen Loans, which are at a concessional rate, to suit large scale infrastructure construction.
“In Botswana, only a few projects have been implemented using the Yen Loan such as the Morupule “A” Power Station Rehabilitation and Pollution Abatement in 1986, the Railway Rolling Stock Increase Project in 1987, the Trans-Kalahari Road Construction Project in 1991, the North-South Carrier Water Project in 1995 and the Kazungula Bridge Construction Project in 2012,” said Ambassador Hoshiyama.
“In terms of grant aid and technical assistance, Japan has various aid schemes including development survey and master planning, expert dispatch to recipient countries, expert training in Japan, scholarships, small scale grass-roots program, culture-related assistance, aid through international organizations and so on.”
In 1993, Japan launched Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) to promote Africa’s development, peace and security, through the strengthening of relations in multilateral cooperation and partnership.
TICAD discuss development issues across Africa and, at the same time, present “aid menus” to African countries provided by Japan and the main aid-related international organizations, United Nations (UN), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank.
“As TICAD provides vision and guidance, it is up to each African country to take ownership and to implement her own development following TICAD polices and make use of the programmes shown in the aid menus,” Ambassordor Hoshiyama noted.
“This would include using ODA loans for quality infrastructure, suited to the country’s own nation-building needs. It is my fervent hope that Botswana will take full advantage of the TICAD process.”
Since then, seven conferences where held, the latest, TICAD 7 being in 2019 at Yokohama. TICAD 7’s agenda on African development focused on three pillars, among them the first pillar being “Accelerating economic transformation and improving business environment through innovation and private sector engagement”.
“Yes, private investment is very important, while public investment through ODA (Official Development Assistance) still plays an indispensable role in development,” the Japanese Ambassador said.
“For further economic development in Africa, Japan recognizes that strengthening regional connectivity and integration through investment in quality infrastructure is key.”
Japan has emphasized the following; effective implementation of economic corridors such as the East Africa Northern Corridor, Nacala Corridor and West Africa Growth Ring; Quality infrastructure investment in line with the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment should be promoted by co-financing or cooperation through the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Japan.
Japan also emphasized the establishment of mechanisms to encourage private investment and to improve the business environment.
According to the statistics issued by Japan’s Finance Ministry, Japan invested approximately 10 billion US dollars in Africa after TICAD 7 (2019) to year end 2020, but Japanese investment through third countries are not included in this figure.
“With the other points factored in, the figure isn’t established yet,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
The next conference, TICAD 8 will be held in Tunisia in 2022. This will be the second TICAD summit to be held on the African continent after TICAD 6 which was held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2016.
According to Ambassador Hoshiyama, in preparation for TICAD 8, the TICAD ministerial meeting will be held in Tokyo this year. The agenda to be discussed during TICAD 8 has not yet been fully deliberated on amongst TICAD Co-organizers (Japan, UN, UNDP, the World Bank and AU).
“Though not officially concluded, given the world situation caused by COVID-19, I believe that TICAD 8 will highlight health and medical issues including the promotion of a Universal Health Coverage (UHC),” said Hoshiyama.
“As the African economy has seriously taken a knock by COVID-19, economic issues, including debt, could be an item for serious discussion.”
The promotion of business is expected to be one of the most important topics. Japan and its partners, together with the business sector, will work closely to help revitalize private investment in Africa.
“All in all, the follow-up of the various programs that were committed by the Co-Organizers during the Yokohama Plan of Actions 2019 will also be reviewed as an important item of the agenda,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
“I believe that this TICAD follow-up mechanism has secured transparency and accountability as well as effective implementation of agreed actions by all parties. The guiding principle of TICAD is African ownership and international partnership.”
Directorate on Intelligence Services (DIS) Director General, Brigadier Peter Magosi is said to be hell-bent and pushing President Mokgweetsi Masisi to reshuffle his cabinet as a matter of urgency since a number of his ministers are conflicted.
The request by Magosi comes at a time when time is ticking on his contract which is awaiting renewal from Masisi.
This publication learns that Magosi is unshaken by the development and continues to wield power despite uncertainty hovering around his contractual renewal.