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Why Botswana varsities are ranked low

In a major disappointment for Botswana’s education system, no Botswana institution of higher learning has made it to the top 100 in the Times Higher Education World Reputation rankings and that too for the fifth continuous year.

Botswana has five universities namely University of Botswana (UB), Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST), Botswana University of Agriculture and National Resources (BUAN) formerly Botswana College of Agriculture (BCA), Limkokwing University of Creative Technology (LUCT) and Botho University (BU). In addition the country has several university colleges and technical colleges.

According to the rankings published by the British magazine this week, universities from United States continue to dominate with Harvard at the top spot. The US is leading with 43 institutions followed by United Kingdom with ten.

Why poor performance by local institutions?

Dr. Sethunya Mosime of UB told this publication in an interview that local tertiary institutions will continue to perform poorly in international rankings as they enroll a small number of post graduates who could be leading in research.

“I speculate that this could be linked to funding constraints in Botswana which hampers universities in their drive to improve especially in research; and also government’s lack of commitment to excellence in higher education,” she said.

Mosime added that at UB, the research grant is insufficient hence the research output is generally unsatisfactory.

According to the university website, as of 2014, there were 1 227 publications of which only three per cent were books, 12 per cent were chapters in books, 14 per cent were refereed conference proceedings, 52 per cent were refereed journal articles and the rest from other publications.

Mosime recommended that the government increase subvention fund to UB so that funds can be availed to carry on research. Government’s subvention to UB is P703 million which translate to 46 per cent of the institution’s revenue.

She observed that failure to attract international students and leading researchers remains a challenge to local universities. UB has an enrolment of 18 176 students of which 96% are Batswana.

Another academic at the institution, Dr. Kaelo Molefhe stated that academic freedom in the country is under siege hence most professors, especially expatriates exercise caution on what they publish.

“Professors are not at liberty to publish their work as they fear deportation, censorship and repression from government and university management,” he explained.

He added that unfriendly immigration laws, especially Visa requirement and work permits continue to make it difficult for the university to realize its vision of being a leading academic centre of excellence in Africa and the world.

In the past, Caesar Zvayi who lectured in the Department of Media Studies at UB was deported for political reasons. Zvayi who is now the Editor of Zimbabwe’s leading daily newspaper – The Herald was deported after being added to the European Union sanctions and publicly declaring his unwavering support for President Robert Mugabe.

Australia’s Professor Kenneth Good was also shown the door during the presidency of Festus Mogae. Prof. Good was said to be a threat to national security after he described Botswana diamonds –the country’s key exports as ‘blood diamonds.

Another academic who did not wish to be quoted told this publication that only when institutions do more research then they will attract better students and scholars and that on its own will boost their reputation.

Furthermore, he opined that the parameters that measure global reputation were not helping local universities as they stressed much on global diversity and research intensity.

He said it was going to take decades for local institutions to transform from teaching universities to research intensive institutions. He also observed that most programs offered by local universities were not accredited by international accrediting bodies such as ABET.

He reiterated that local universities must consider forging international partnerships with leading universities like Harvard, Oxford and Cambridge for benchmarking purposes.

At the time of going to print, BIUST and UB spokespersons, Keoagile Rafifing and Mhitshane Reetsang had not responded to a questionnaire from this publication on how their institutions intend to improve their international rankings and the root cause of unsatisfactory performance.
Methodology

According to the British magazine website, the rankings were based on surveys of more than 10 000 senior academics in 133 countries. The survey targeted only experienced and published scholars who offered their views on excellence in research and teaching within their disciplines.

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Botswana’s Legislative Milestone: Championing Disability Rights

27th February 2024

In a significant stride towards inclusivity, Botswana’s National Assembly has ratified the groundbreaking Persons with Disability Act. This legislation is a cornerstone in protecting the rights and promoting the economic well-being of individuals with disabilities

At the heart of this act is the creation of two pivotal bodies: the National Disability Coordinating Office and the National Disability Council. These institutions are set to revolutionize the integration of disability affairs into the national fabric, as outlined by the Minister for State President, Kabo Morwaeng. Morwaeng highlighted the alignment of this act with the global Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), underlining Botswana’s commitment to international standards in disability rights.

During his address to Parliament, Morwaeng disclosed Botswana’s inaugural CRPD report submission to the UN, underscoring the nation’s dedication to global dialogue on disability rights. Furthermore, he unveiled plans for a comprehensive assessment to understand the socio-economic realities of disabled individuals and their families. This initiative, complemented by the strengthening of existing programs, aims to empower this community, ensuring their integration and prosperity in society

Morwaeng’s call to action was clear. He urged a collective shift in developmental agendas to accommodate and prioritize disability issues, advocating for an inclusive societal framework.

An ambitious budget of P35,631,600 has been allocated to bridge gaps in Disability Economic Empowerment, alongside critical studies and the establishment of the National Emergency Operations Centre. Concluding his presentation, Morwaeng appealed to fellow governmental departments to allocate funds diligently to fulfill CRPD and Persons with Disabilities obligations, marking a new chapter in Botswana’s legislative history towards inclusive development.

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Kabo Matlho’s Majestic Reentry Descends Upon a Solo Venture

27th February 2024

Kabo Matlho, a luminary whose fame once graced the grand finale of My Star, is poised to enchant the music realm once more with an upcoming solo venture—an RnB and Hip-Hop Extended Play (EP)—heralding his grand resurgence after a hiatus that spoke volumes.

During a telephonic confab with our editors, the virtuoso, navigating the world from the confines of his wheelchair, confided that while the exact launch date of the EP remains shrouded in mystery, he is fervently working towards a mid-2024 reveal. Matlho shared the trials of his odyssey, especially the cold shoulder he received from the industry ambushes, crediting the harsh exclusion to his physical predicament.

“The scene calls me once more, for the absence has been both a sabbatical and a shadow. The road for an artist, enveloped in the embrace of wheels, is strewn with fewer welcomes and scarce stages. Yet, herein I forge my return, with the precise hour of my EP’s birth still nestled in the coming chapters, assuredly within this year’s embrace,” Matlho unveiled with a determination that shone bright.

 

Probed on his choice for a solo EP, the melody weaver expressed a desire to not only rekindle his essence but to stand solitary under the spotlight, nurturing his brand to vigor before possibly blending it with the talents of others—once his career phoenix rises anew from its ashes.

Elaborating on his Extended Play, Matlho shared visions of its essence, where the soul of RnB intertwines with the spirited rhythm of Hip-Hop, crafting an audial tapestry that not only returns to his roots but also ventures into previously uncharted territories of his musical domain. With resilience, Matlho faces the crossroads of his artistry, embracing the whisperings of Hip-Hop that tease the boundaries of his comfort, embarking on this path with a heart both apprehensive and ablaze.

 

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BODANSA strikes gold with a handsome P45K windfall from Turnstar Holdings

27th February 2024

The Botswana DanceSport Association (BODANSA) has been graced with a financial boon of P45,000 courtesy of Turnstar Holdings. This generous endowment is earmarked for the illustrious Botswana International Dance Sport Grand Prix Championships, which are scheduled to animate Gaborone from Friday to Saturday.

At a media engagement held early today, BODANSA’s Marketing Maestro, Tiro Ntwayagae, shared that Turnstar Holdings Limited has bestowed a gift of P45,000 towards the grand spectacle.

“We are thrilled to announce that this backing will enable us to orchestrate a cultural soirée at the Game City Marque locale, a night brimming with cultural fervor set for March 1, 2024, from 6pm to the stroke of midnight.

This enchanting space will also serve as the battleground for the preliminaries of traditional dance ensembles—spanning the rhythmically rich Setapa to the euphoric beats of Sebirwa, the spirited Seperu, the heavenly Hosana, and more—in a competition folded into the Traditional Dance Groups Category. The ensemble that dances into the judges’ hearts will clinch a grand prize of P10,000,” elaborated Ntwayagae.

He further illuminated that the cultural eve would not only celebrate traditional melodies but also the fresh beats of contemporary dance variants including Hip Hop, Sbujwa, Amapiano, among others, in a dazzling display of modern dance mastery.

Moreover, these championships carry the prestigious recognition by the World DanceSport Federation as a qualifying round for the Breakdance category for the Paris 2024 Olympics. “This is a monumental opportunity for athletes to leap towards their Olympic dreams during one of the penultimate qualifiers,” underscored Ntwayagae.

Looking ahead to March 2, 2024, the festivities will propel into the University of Botswana Indoor Sports Arena for the championship’s climactic showdowns encompassing Breakdance, Latin, and Ballroom Dancing.

 

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