Government rationalising TVET institutions for optimal use
Minister calls for transformation in all public schools
The Ministry of Education and Skills Development (MoESD) has undertaken a process that will transform technical and vocational training institutions in order to meet the growing demands of the economy.
Assistant Minister of Education and Skills Development Fidelis Molao told WeekendPost in an exclusive interview this week that public owned institutions will continue to play a central role in the country’s education system despite the downward trend in enrolment amid the rising number of private owned tertiary institutions.
Molao expressed that technical and vocational colleges need a radical transformation in order to attract a satisfactory enrolment for vocational and technical training.
“There is a stereotype regarding technical and vocational education in Botswana which also contributes to less interest hence the low numbers,” he said.
“We are soon to implement the revitalisation and re-branding of our Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions to make them attractive and ‘go to’ institutions in both outlook and offerings.”
Moalo conceded that the infrastructure for vocational and technical training is being underutilised because there is a duplication of efforts, something they will reverse through the rationalisation, which will entail movement of courses from one institution to another to allow for optimal use.
A report released by Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) earlier this year titled “Tertiary Education At A Glance” indicates that enrolment by government technical colleges is still 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.”
Molao has also backed private tertiary institutions for the role they continue to play in Botswana’s education system. He said contrary to popular expression, the education system in Botswana is not yet dominated by the private sector.
He said there is evidence that foreign owned private institutions are also adding value to Botswana’s education system.
The Assistant Minister further stated that the rise of private tertiary institutions should be a wakeup call for public institutions to reform if they are to stay afloat in the next coming years.
“Private institutions should get involved in their own transformation to adapt to economic needs,” said the youthful minister.
“They should compete just like anyone else and we encourage them to do that [transform]. Government would not block any transformative agenda from these institutions.”
Molao contended that while government is the custodian of public owned institutions, it is not government’s role to ensure that the institutions are vibrant and responsive to changing economic needs.
“Government, in this instance, Ministry of Education and Skills Development plays a facilitating role at policy level. We cannot micro manage University of Botswana for example. Any suggestion in that direction will be lazy thinking, what will be the role of the management and council?” he said.
He further called for management and boards of public institutions to lead the transformation process and government will not hinder them from doing so.
There has been a steep rise in tertiary education enrolment in Botswana since the Tertiary Education Policy (TEP) was approved by parliament in April 2008, resulting in a total expenditure of over P2 billion on student tuition fees and allowances.
Public institutions are facing stiff competition from emerging private tertiary institutions which are gaining ground at a blistering rate. Previously, government placed students in public schools such as UB, Botswana Accountancy College (BAC), Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BUAN), Colleges of Education and Health Sciences institutions.
Government gestures indicate that public institutions will not be given preferential treatment, and they are expected to reform and compete with the privately owned institutions.
With HRDC given the mandate to ensure that the national human resource needs are met, public institutions will be compelled to follow their annually released priority courses eligible for government sponsorship.
Enrolment at tertiary level has almost doubled since 2008, rising from 31 129 in the 2007/08 financial year to 60 583 in the 2014/15 financial year. The increase in the number of private tertiary institutions enrolling government sponsored students has been mainstay in the new trend.
During the 2014/15 financial year out of the 60 583 students enrolled in tertiary institutions, 42.6 percent of the students were enrolled at private tertiary institutions. A drastic growth experienced by almost all private institutions.
An international report complied in South Africa dubbed ‘Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana’ says that the transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana live a miserable life. The community experiences higher levels of discrimination, violence and ill health.
In this report, it has been indicated that this is because their gender identity, which does not conform to narrowly define societal norms, renders them more vulnerable. Gender identity is a social determinant of health, which means that it is a factor that influences people’s health via their social context, their communities and their experiences of social exclusion. The Ministry of Health and Wellness has recognized this, and transgender people are considered a vulnerable population under the Botswana Second National Strategic Framework for HIV and AIDS 2010-2017.
In a recent study that shed light on the lived experiences of transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana, transgender persons often experience discrimination because of their gender identity and expression. The study was conducted by the University of Cape Town, LEGABIBO, BONELA, as well as Rainbow Identity Association and approved by the Health Ministry as well as the University of Botswana.
Of the 77 transgender and gender non-conforming people who participated in the study, less than half were employed. Two thirds, which is approximately 67% said that they did not have sufficient funds to cover their everyday needs. Two in five had hidden health concerns from their healthcare provider because they were afraid to disclose their gender identity.
More than half said that because of their gender identity, they had been treated disrespectfully at a healthcare facility (55%), almost half (46%) said they had been insulted at a healthcare facility, and one quarter (25%) had been denied healthcare because of their gender identity.
At the same time, the ‘Are we doing right’ study suggests that transgender and non-conforming people might be at higher risks of experiencing violence and mental ill-health, compared to the general population. More than half had experienced verbal embarrassment because of their gender identity, 48% had experienced physical violence and more than one third (38%) had experienced sexual violence.
The study showed that mental health concerns were high among transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana. Half of the transgender and gender non-conforming study participants (53%) showed signs of depression. Between one in four and one in six showed signs of moderate or severe anxiety (22% among transgender women, 24% among transgender men and 17% among gender non-conforming people).
Further, the study revealed that many had attempted suicide: one in three transgender women (32%), more than one in three transgender men (35%) and three in five gender non-conforming people (61%).
International research, as well as research from Botswana, suggests that not being able to change one’s gender marker has a negative impact on access to healthcare and mental health and wellbeing. The study further showed that one in four transgender people in Botswana (25%) had been denied access to healthcare. This is, at least in part, linked to not being able to change one’s gender marker in the identity documents, and thus not having an identity document that matches one’s gender identity and gender expression.
In its Assessment of Legal and Regulatory Framework for HIV, AIDS and Tuberculosis, the Health Ministry noted that “transgender persons in Botswana are unable to access identity documents that reflect their gender identity, which is a barrier to health services, including in the context of HIV. In one documented case, a transwoman’s identity card did not reflect her gender identity- her identity card photo indicated she was ‘male’. When she presented her identity card at a health facility, a health worker called the police who took her into custody.”
The necessity of a correct national identity document goes beyond healthcare. The High Court of Botswana explains that “the national identity document plays a pivotal role in every Motswana’s daily life, as it links him or her with any service they require from various institutions. Most activities in the country require every Motswana to produce their identity document, for identification purposes of receiving services.”
According to the Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana report, this effectively means that transgender, whose gender identity and expression is likely to be different from the sex assigned to them at birth and from what is recorded on their identity document, cannot access services without risk of denial or discrimination, or accusations of fraud.
In this context, gays and lesbians advocacy group LEGABIBO has called on government through the Department of Civil and National Registration to urgently implement the High Court rulings on gender marker changes. As stated by the High Court in the ND vs Attorney General of Botswana judgement, identity cards (Omang) play an important role in the life of every Motswana. Refusal and or delay to issue a Motswana with an Omang is denying them to live a complete and full-filing life with dignity and violates their privacy and freedom of expression.
The judgement clarified that persons can change their gender marker as per the National Registrations Act, so changing the gender marker is legally possible. There is no need for a court order. It further said the person’s gender is self-identified, there is no need to consult medical doctors.
LEGABIBO also called on government to develop regulations that specify administrative procedure to change one’s gender marker, and observing self-determination process. Further, the group looks out for government to ensure members of the transgender community are engaged in the development of regulations.
“We call on this Department of Civil and National Registration to ensure that the gender marker change under the National Registration Act is aligned to the Births and Deaths Registry Act to avoid court order.
Meanwhile, a gay man in Lobatse, Moabi Mokenke was recently viciously killed after being sexually violated in the streets of Peleng, shockingly by his neighbourhood folks. The youthful lad, likely to be 29-years old, met his fate on his way home, from the wearisome Di a Bowa taverns situated in the much populated township of Peleng Central.
CEO of Khato Civils Mongezi Mnyani has come out of the silence and is going all way guns blazing against the company’s adversaries who he said are hell-bent on tarnishing his company’s image and “hard-earned good name”
Speaking to WeekendPost from South Africa, Mnyani said it is now time for him to speak out or act against his detractors. Khato Civils has done several projects across Africa. Khato Civils, a construction company and its affiliate engineering company, South Zambezi have executed a number of world class projects in South Africa, Malawi and now recently here in Botswana.
About ten (10) Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) parliamentary candidates who lost the 2019 general election and petitioned results this week met with UDC Vice President, Dumelang Saleshando to discuss the way forward concerning the quandary that is the legal fees put before them by Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) lawyers.
For a while now, UDC petitioners who are facing the wrath of quizzical sheriffs have demanded audience with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC) but in vain. However after the long wait for a tete-a-tete with the UDC, the petitioners met with Saleshando accompanied by other NEC members including Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, Reverend Mpho Dibeela and Dennis Alexander.