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.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.