The Botswana Qualifications Authority (BQA) is currently consulting stakeholders to solicit support in the implementation of its new mandate and to raise awareness on the new education and training system.
The consultations are also meant to clarify legal implications on the applicability of the new regulations on existing education and training providers. Addressing a consultative workshop with education providers in Selebi Phikwe on Thursday, BQA Chief Executive Officer, Abel Modungwa highlighted that the Authority is mandated to provide for and maintain a National Credit and Qualifications Framework (NCQF) as well as coordinating the education and training quality assurance system for General Education, Technical and Vocational Education and Training up to higher education to ensure lifelong learning.
He said that BQA has come up with a new National Credit and Qualifications System to determine equivalence of qualifications so as to place them on appropriate levels comparable with the same in the region and abroad. Modungwa says the new system will indicate levels of complexity of learning as a learner progresses from pre-primary up to the highest level so to prepare learners for each next level of their education journey. He said the system will use level descriptors to guide the development of qualifications and learning programmes.
“The new NCQF is anchored on credit accumulation as ccredits are the building blocks of an education and training system,” he said. The CEO said the system was formulated to address challenges of the old system which he said was fragmented and poorly coordinated. He said local qualifications under the old system were not fully recognisable and portable and there are also problems of mismatch of skills and industry needs.
He explained that it was optional for institutions to apply for accreditation under the now repealed Tertiary Education Council (TEC) Act of 1999. TEC Act was repealed by the Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) Act, 2013. He explained that the regulations of the repealed TEC Act continued in force and remained valid as per the transitional clause in Section38 (1) of the HRDC Act, 2013 that provides that “Any subsidiary legislation made under the repealed Act, and in force immediately prior to the coming into operation of this [HRDC] Act shall in so far as such legislation is consistent with the provisions of this Act, continue [to be] in force as if made under this Act”.
However, these regulations have expressly been repealed by Regulation 23 of the BQA Act that provides for Registration and Accreditation of Education and Training Providers, Modungwa has said. Explaining what will happens to existing Education and Training Providers (ETP’s) that were licensed under the old Regulations, Modungwa said that they are given 12 months to comply but the licences issued under the repealed Regulations remain legally valid.
He also clarified the eligibility for accreditation of learning programmes. He explained that even though the provisions under the old system have been repealed, anything duly and lawfully done under the old Regulations prior to the gazettement of the new Regulations will remain legally valid. According to Section 33(1), Regulations made under the previous Act continue to be in force for as long as they are not inconsistent with the Act. This provision caters for transitional purposes.
ETPs have been afforded a grace period to comply or align their operations with the new regulations. A grace period has been put in place as a transitional measure. Modungwa warned institutions that they have a legal obligation to comply, failure which they will face “the inevitable possibility of the revocation of their licenses.” “The rights accrued or obligations incurred before repeal of the Regulations are enforceable, particularly during the transition period. It is hoped that the affected ETPs would have complied with the new requirements within 12 months,” he said.
After 12 months transitional period, all new applications will be subjected to the new Regulations. Section 4(2) Subsections (l) and (m) of the BQA Act provides that the Authority shall register and accredit education and training providers, assessors, awarding bodies and moderators as well as accreditation of learning programmes. The CEO pointed out that it is mandatory that the above functions be carried out by the Authority and it does not have a discretion in executing them, emphasizing further that all education and training providers must comply with the quality assurance system as determined by the Authority.
The repealed regulations under the old Act are the Registration of Private Tertiary Institutions Regulations, 2004, Registration of Operating Private and Public Tertiary Institutions Regulations, 2005 and the Accreditation of Private Tertiary Institutions Regulations, 2008. He also stated that all applications in the Authority’s possession that were received before the publication of the new Regulations will be considered and finalised in terms of the old Regulations but this will be applicable only during the transitional period.
He also noted that the Authority together with ETPs will determine the variance between the old and the new Regulations for each ETP on a case by case basis. The Authority will also develop criteria and guidelines on how existing ETPs should comply during the transitional period. The BQA boss stressed that it is important that the new system is successfully implemented in order to ensure the portability of local qualifications and promote internal and external systems articulation.
He said all learning programmes will be accredited before learners are enrolled so as to ensure that there is common quality assurance platform. Under the new system, it is either an institution or programme is accredited or not, there will be no provisional arrangements. He said the new approach will improve coordination of education and training under one regulatory body and provide for learner protection through the involvement of Student Representative Council as an integral part of each institution’s governance structures.
The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s decision to reject and appeal the High Court’s verdict on a case involving High Court Judge, Dr Zein Kebonang has frustrated the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Judge Kebonang’s back to work discussions.
JSC and Kebonang have been in constant discussions over the latter’s return to work following a ruling by a High Court panel of judges clearing him of any wrong doing in the National Petroleum Fund criminal case filed by the DPP. However the finalization of the matter has been hanged on whether the DPP will appeal the matter or not – the prosecution body has since appealed.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) top brass has declined a request by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to negotiate the legal fees occasioned by 2019 general elections petition in which the latter disputed in court the outcome of the elections.
This publication is made aware that UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando was left with an egg on his face after the BDP big wigs, comprising of party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane and Secretary General Mpho Balopi rejected his plea.
“He was told that this is a legal matter and therefore their (UDC) lawyer should engage ours (BDP) for negotiations because it is way far from our jurisdiction,” BDP Head of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, told this publication.
This spelt doom for the main opposition party and Saleshando who seems not to have confidence and that the UDC lawyers have the dexterity to negotiate these kind of matters. It is not clear whether Saleshando requested UDC lawyer Boingotlo Toteng to sit at the table with Bogopa Manewe, Tobedza and Co, who are representing the BDP to strike a deal as per the BDP top echelons suggested.
“From my understanding, the matter is dealt with politically as the two parties are negotiating how to resolve it, but by far nothing has come to me on the matter. So I believe they are still substantively engaging each other,” Toteng said briefly in an interview on Thursday.
UDC petitioners saddled with costs after mounting an unprecedented legal suit before the court to try and overturn BDP’s October 2019 victory. The participants in the legal matter involves 15 parliamentary candidates’ and nine councillors. The UDC petitioned the court and contested the outcome of the elections citing “irregularities in some of the constituencies”.
In a brief ruling in January 2020, Judge President Ian Kirby on behalf of a five-member panel said: “We have no jurisdiction to entertain these appeals. These appeals must be struck out each with costs including costs of counsel”. This was a second blow to the UDC in about a month after their 2019 appeals were dismissed by the High Court a day before Christmas Day.
This week BDP attorneys decided to attach UDC petitioners’ property in a bid to settle the debts. UDC President Duma Boko is among those that will see their property being attached with 14 of his party members. “We have attached some and we are on course. So far, Dr. Mpho Pheko (who contested Gaborone Central) and that of Dr, Micus Chimbombi (who contested Kgalagadi South) will have their assets being sold on the 5th of February 2021,” BDP attorney Basimane Bogopa said.
Asked whether they met with UDC lawyers to try solve the matter, Bogopa said no and added. “Remember we are trying to raise the client’s funds, so after these two others will follow. Right now we are just prioritising those from Court of Appeal, as soon as the high court is done with taxation we will attach.”
Saleshando, when contacted about the outcomes of the meeting with the BDP, told WeekendPost that: “It would not be proper and procedural for me to tell you about the meeting outcomes before I share with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC), so I will have to brief them first.”
UDC NEC will meet on the 20th of next month to deal with a number of thorny issues including settling the legal fees. Negotiations with other opposition parties- Alliance for Progressives and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) are also on the agenda.
Currently, UDC has raised P44 238 of the P565 000 needed to cover bills from the Court of Appeal (CoA). This is the amount in a UDC trust account which is paltry funds equating 7.8 per cent of the overall required money. In the past despite the petitioners maintaining that there was promise to assist them to settle legal fees, UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa then said the party has never agreed in no way to help them.
“We have just been put in debt by someone,” one of the petitioners told this publication in the past. “President’s (Duma Boko) message was clear at the beginning that money has been sourced somewhere to help with the whole process but now we are here there is nothing and we are just running around trying to make ends meet and pay,” added the petitioner in an interview UDC NEC has in December last year directed all the 57 constituencies to each raise a minimum of P10, 000. The funds will be used to settle debts that are currently engulfing the petitioners with Sheriffs, who are already hovering around ready to attach their assets.
The petitioners, despite the party intervention, have every right to worry. “This is so because ‘the deadline for this initiative (P10, 000 per constituency) is the end of the first quarter of this year (2021),” a period in which the sheriffs would have long auctioned the properties.
President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko’s alliance with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama continues to unsettle some quarters within the opposition collective, who believe the duo, if not managed, will once again result in an unsuccessful bid for government in 2024.
While Khama has denied that he has undeclared preference to have Boko remaining as leader of UDC, many believe that the two have a common programme, while other opposition leaders remain on the side-lines.