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BQA, BHPC vow to improve health sector

On Monday this week Botswana Qualifications Authority (BQA) and Botswana Health Professionals Council (BHPC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding in a landmark event in the history of the Authority, as it endeavours to improve the quality of education and training in Botswana in respect to regulation of education and training in the health sector.

The main aim of the MoU is to promote harmony between the two sectors of education and health. It will ensure that BHPC reviews any health profession learning programme submitted to BQA for accreditation. BHPC will carry out the necessary quality assurance processes in relation to the submitted learning programmes, working directly with Education and Training Providers. Once this process is completed, BHPC will produce a report recommending the appropriate accreditation decision to BQA.

While officiating at the signing, BQA Chief Executive Officer Abel Modungwa said he is impressed with the commitment of both BQA and BHPC in ensuring improved quality of education and training in the health sector. He said the agreement to share expert resources, monitor for compliance, as well as provide training to staff of both organisations on quality assurance and other related services will ensure an improved and seamless approach to training in this sector.

“I am happy that there has been a deliberate, robust review of the acts that established the two organisations to identify likely areas of collaboration and assesses any possible conflicts, and that at the end of the day synergies were identified hence the signing of this MoU,” said Modungwa.

The provision for, and maintenance of the National Credit and Qualifications Framework as envisioned by the BQA Act, marks the introduction of an outcomes based system in Botswana. It will ensure clear definition of levels, qualifications and it will detail skills, knowledge and competencies expected at each level.

This will promote articulation and progression and will result in the national health qualifications being portable, internationally comparable, and will facilitate seamless learner mobility. The overall objective is to produce graduates that are job- ready, can self employ and are globally competitive.

The authority is looking forward to sign more agreements with other professional and regulatory bodies to ensure sector relevant quality teaching and learning. It is currently engaging with organisations such as the Law Society of Botswana, Engineers Registration Board, Botswana Accounting oversight Authority, Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana, and Botswana Institute of Engineers to enter into MoU’s of this nature.

BQA was established to quality assure education and training across the 3 sub- systems of education and training; being General Education, Technical and Vocational Education, as well as Training and Higher Education. This is quite a broad task that can only be fully achieved through engagement of stakeholders such as professional bodies and other regulatory bodies, locally and abroad.

Botswana as a country is faced with challenges of unemployment which is caused, to some extent, by mismatch of skills and industry needs. Part of BQA’s mandate is to improve access, equality, relevance and quality of education and training. A key role in quality assurance of education and training is accreditation of learning programmes. BQA engages subject matter experts to validate learning programmes. This can be quite a challenge, and has in the past delayed some applications for accreditation of new learning programmes due to shortage of experts in certain fields. 

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Botswana on high red alert as AML joins Covid-19 to plague mankind

21st September 2020

This century is always looking at improving new super high speed technology to make life easier. On the other hand, beckoning as an emerging fierce reversal force to equally match or dominate this life enhancing super new tech, comes swift human adversaries which seem to have come to make living on earth even more difficult.

The recent discovery of a pandemic, Covid-19, which moves at a pace of unimaginable and unpredictable proportions; locking people inside homes and barring human interactions with its dreaded death threat, is currently being felt.

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Finance Committee cautions Gov’t against imprudent raising of debt levels

21st September 2020
Finance Committe Chairman: Thapelo Letsholo

Member of Parliament for Kanye North, Thapelo Letsholo has cautioned Government against excessive borrowing and poorly managed debt levels.

He was speaking in  Parliament on Tuesday delivering  Parliament’s Finance Committee report after assessing a  motion that sought to raise Government Bond program ceiling to P30 billion, a big jump from the initial P15 Billion.

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Gov’t Investment Account drying up fast!  

21st September 2020
Dr Matsheka

Government Investment Account (GIA) which forms part of the Pula fund has been significantly drawn down to finance Botswana’s budget deficits since 2008/09 Global financial crises.

The 2009 global economic recession triggered the collapse of financial markets in the United States, sending waves of shock across world economies, eroding business sentiment, and causing financiers of trade to excise heightened caution and hold onto their cash.

The ripple effects of this economic catastrophe were mostly felt by low to middle income resource based economies, amplifying their vulnerability to external shocks. The diamond industry which forms the gist of Botswana’s economic make up collapsed to zero trade levels across the entire value chain.

The Upstream, where Botswana gathers much of its diamond revenue was adversely impacted by muted demand in the Midstream. The situation was exacerbated by zero appetite of polished goods by jewelry manufacturers and retail outlets due to lowered tail end consumer demand.

This resulted in sharp decline of Government revenue, ballooned budget deficits and suspension of some developmental projects. To finance the deficit and some prioritized national development projects, government had to dip into cash balances, foreign reserves and borrow both externally and locally.

Much of drawing was from Government Investment Account as opposed to drawing from foreign reserve component of the Pula Fund; the latter was spared as a fiscal buffer for the worst rainy days.

Consequently this resulted in significant decline in funds held in the Government Investment Account (GIA). The account serves as Government’s main savings depository and fund for national policy objectives.

However as the world emerged from the 2009 recession government revenue graph picked up to pre recession levels before going down again around 2016/17 owing to challenges in the diamond industry.

Due to a number of budget surpluses from 2012/13 financial year the Government Investment Account started expanding back to P30 billion levels before a series of budget deficits in the National Development Plan 11 pushed it back to decline a decline wave.

When the National Development Plan 11 commenced three (3) financial years ago, government announced that the first half of the NDP would run at budget deficits.

This  as explained by Minister of Finance in 2017 would be occasioned by decline in diamond revenue mainly due to government forfeiting some of its dividend from Debswana to fund mine expansion projects.

Cumulatively since 2017/18 to 2019/20 financial year the budget deficit totaled to over P16 billion, of which was financed by both external and domestic borrowing and drawing down from government cash balances. Drawing down from government cash balances meant significant withdrawals from the Government Investment Account.

The Government Investment Account (GIA) was established in accordance with Section 35 of the Bank of Botswana Act Cap. 55:01. The Account represents Government’s share of the Botswana‘s foreign exchange reserves, its investment and management strategies are aligned to the Bank of Botswana’s foreign exchange reserves management and investment guidelines.

Government Investment Account, comprises of Pula denominated deposits at the Bank of Botswana and held in the Pula Fund, which is the long-term investment tranche of the foreign exchange reserves.

In June 2017 while answering a question from Bogolo Kenewendo, the then Minister of Finance & Economic Development Kenneth Mathambo told parliament that as of June 30, 2017, the total assets in the Pula Fund was P56.818 billion, of which the balance in the GIA was P30.832 billion.

Kenewendo was still a back bench specially elected Member of Parliament before ascending to cabinet post in 2018. Last week Minister of Finance & Economic Development, Dr Thapelo Matsheka, when presenting a motion to raise government local borrowing ceiling from P15 billion to P30 Billion told parliament that as of December 2019 Government Investment Account amounted to P18.3 billion.

Dr Matsheka further told parliament that prior to financial crisis of 2008/9 the account amounted to P30.5 billion (41 % of GDP) in December of 2008 while as at December 2019 it stood at P18.3 billion (only 9 % of GDP) mirroring a total decline by P11 billion in the entire 11 years.

Back in 2017 Parliament was also told that the Government Investment Account may be drawn-down or added to, in line with actuations in the Government’s expenditure and revenue outturns. “This is intended to provide the Government with appropriate funds to execute its functions and responsibilities effectively and efficiently” said Mathambo, then Minister of Finance.

Acknowledging the need to draw down from GIA no more, current Minister of Finance   Dr Matsheka said “It is under this background that it would be advisable to avoid excessive draw down from this account to preserve it as a financial buffer”

He further cautioned “The danger with substantially reduced financial buffers is that when an economic shock occurs or a disaster descends upon us and adversely affects our economy it becomes very difficult for the country to manage such a shock”

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