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Modern education almost non-existent in Africa

Although in all human societies education has been found to be important and more so in the 21st century because it is tool for promoting material, spiritual, physical and economic development, unfortunately formal education is still almost non-existent and foreign to Africa today. What we refer to as education today is modern formal education or the school system and yet lifelong learning is indigenous to Africa.

This is according to University of Botswana academic of Lifelong Learning at the Department of Adult Education, Professor Idowu Biao. Professor Biao made the revelations when delivering a public lecture on “Lifelong Learning, Traditional African Education and Development” at UB last week. He was presenting research findings which sought to test the efficacy of the Human Development Index Literacy theory which claims that provision of basic education, advancement in nutrition, health and life expectation can be promoted through a specifically designed literacy programme suited to the needs of rural Africa where money/capital is scarce.

Biao contends that generally, investment on education in Africa indicates a high level of wastage at the level of school education. While on average 90-95% complete primary education; 75-90% complete upper secondary in developed OECD countries and 40% complete tertiary, by comparison only 20% of school education exists in Africa and 70% of education and learning going on in

Africa is still lifelong learning. Only about 50% of those qualified for school age in Africa are in school. Because of the MDGs, African primary schools have achieved mammoth enrolments of about 90%, but only 50% complete primary school due to huge drop-out rate. Before the introduction of the MGDs Africa’s primary school enrolment was a paltry 56% or less.  In Botswana dropout rates are lower but still a case of concern at 35-49% in primary, 10% at secondary and university gross enrolment estimated at 13%.

Only 35-40% of Africa’s youth finish high/secondary school with a continental average percentage of tertiary gross enrolment at around a mere 7% of those qualified to enter university compared with most developed OECD countries tertiary participation rate of 40% and more, 96% success rate at primary school and 77% at secondary school for the whole population. OECD countries are doing well because their citizens fully benefit from formal education.

Yet in the 21st century education is widely acknowledged as the driver of development, but the question posed is which type of education is the driver for Africa in the light of almost non-existence  of formal education in Africa. The real drivers of development are not primary and secondary education but universities as generators of knowledge. Botswana has surpassed Africa’s average of 7% to achieve 13% participation rate at tertiary levels but the threshold is still not enough compared to developed OECD countries rate of at least 40% with some countries having achieved 100%.  

The logical question then is which way for Africa and how can Africa develop? There was an education system that developed before the advent of colonialism called traditional African education (TAE) or lifelong learning. Lifelong learning has been existent in Africa before the study of modern universities.  The study of modern lifelong learning started in Africa in 1972 long preceded by the idea that education must be lifelong in 1929 as articulated by Basil Yeaxlee. However traditional African education or African lifelong learning has been in existence for millennia. While school education remains relevant for the purpose of linking and opening up Africa to the rest of the world, the ultimate sustainable development for Africa rests in the promotion of lifelong learning.

The argument or thesis is that since formal education is non-existent in Africa in order to drive economic and social development, Africa should fall back on African lifelong learning combined with formal education to drive the development of Africa. Therefore, research should be encouraged in traditional African lifelong learning because investment in modern formal education has been pathetic with 70% of higher education products in Africa jobless and roaming the streets because the education system is incompatible with the job market while by comparison, OECD countries find jobs for the 40% of their citizens who are graduates. Africans have to be critical and cannot afford to stick only to what they learned at school but should also look at their own resources to serve their needs.

Traditional African education has always served traditional Africa as lone system of education based on the idea that learning goes on throughout and beyond the physical lifetime and is based on a strong connection between the physical and the non-physical/spiritual worlds and therefore a dual learning content. In the Botswana context, it is estimated that about 42% of the population is rural based on the reclassification of rural villages to urban villages since 1991, notwithstanding this, the nomenclature villages in urban villages still keep them close to ruralness. By 2015, about 70% of Africans still live in rural areas, with the highest population of potential workforce- the youth- in rural areas comprising more than half of the overall rural population. Between 1993 -2003, the poverty headcount ratio in rural Botswana fell from 47% to 30.6, falling further to 23% by 2009 but is suspected to have risen to 28-30% between 2009 and 2015, says Professor Biao.

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Mowana Mine to open, pay employees millions

18th January 2022
Mowana Mine

Mowana Copper Mine in Dukwi will finally pay its former employees a total amount of P23, 789, 984.00 end of this month. For over three years Mowana Copper Mine has been under judicial management. Updating members, Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) Executive Secretary Kitso Phiri this week said the High Court issued an order for the implementation of the compromise scheme of December 9, 2021 and this was to be done within 30 days after court order.

“Therefore payment of benefits under the scheme including those owed to Messina Copper Botswana employees should be effected sometime in January latest end of January 2022,” Kitso said. Kitso also explained that cash settlement will be 30 percent of the total Messina Copper Botswana estate and negotiated estate is $3,233,000 (about P35, 563,000).

Messina Copper was placed under liquidation and was thereafter acquired by Leboam Holdings to operate Mowana Mine. Leboam Holdings struck a deal with the Messina Copper’s liquidator who became a shareholder of Leboam Holdings. Leboam Holdings could not service its debts and its creditors placed it under provisional judicial management on December 18, 2018 and in judicial management on February 28, 2019.

A new company Max Power expressed interest to acquire the mining operations. It offered to take over the Mowana Mine from Leboam Holdings, however, the company had to pay the debts of Leboam including monies owed to Messina Copper, being employees benefits and other debts owed to other creditors.

The monies, were agreed to be paid through a scheme of compromise proposed by Max Power, being a negotiated payment schedule, which was subject to the financial ability of the new owners. “On December 9, 2021, Messina Copper liquidator, called a meeting of creditors, which the BMWU on behalf of its members (former Messina Copper employees) attended, to seek mandate from creditors to proceed with a proposed settlement for Messina Copper on the scheme of compromise. It is important to note that employee benefits are regarded as preferential credit, meaning once a scheme is approved they are paid first.”

Negotiated estate is P35, 563,000

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Councilors’ benefits debacle-savingram reveals detail

18th January 2022

A savingram the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development sent to Town Clerks and Council Secretaries explaining why councilors across the country should not have access to their terminal benefits before end of their term has been revealed.

The contents of the savingram came out in the wake of a war of words between counselors and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development. The councilors through the Botswana Association of Local Authorities (BALA) accuse the Ministry of refusing to allow them to have access to their terminal benefits before end of their term.

This has since been denied by the Ministry.  In the savingram to town councils and council secretaries across the country, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development Molefi Keaja states that, “Kindly be advised that the terminal benefits budget is made during the final year of term of office for Honorable Councilors.”  Keaja reminded town clerks and council secretaries that, “The nominal budget Councils make each and every financial year is to cater for events where a Councilor’s term of office ends before the statutory time due to death, resignation or any other reason.”

The savingram also goes into detail about why the government had in the past allowed councilors to have access to their terminal benefits before the end of their term.  “Regarding the special dispensation made in the 2014-2019, it should be noted that the advance was granted because at that time there was an approved budget for terminal benefits during the financial year,” explained Keaja.  He added that, “Town Clerks/Council Secretaries made discretions depending on the liquidity position of Councils which attracted a lot of audit queries.”

Keaja also revealed that councils across the country were struggling financially and therefore if they were to grant councilors access to their terminal benefits, this could leave their in a dire financial situation.  Given the fact that Local Authorities currently have cash flow problems and budgetary constraints, it is not advisable to grant terminal benefits advance as it would only serve to compound the liquidity problems of councils.

It is understood that the Ministry was inundated with calls from some Councils as they sought clarification regarding access to their terminal benefits. The Ministry fears that should councils pay out the terminal benefits this would affect their coffers as the government spends a lot on councilors salaries.

Reports show that apart from elected councilors, the government spends at least P6, 577, 746, 00 on nominated councilors across the country as their monthly salaries. Former Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Botlogile Tshireletso once told Parliament that in total there are 113 nominated councilors and their salaries per a year add up to P78, 933,16.00. She added that their projected gratuity is P9, 866,646.00.

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Households spending to drive economic recovery

17th January 2022

A surge in consumer spending is expected to be a key driver of Botswana’s economic recovery, according to recent projections by Fitch Solutions. Fitch Solutions said it forecasts household spending in Botswana to grow by a real rate of 5.9% in 2022.

The bullish Fitch Solutions noted that “This is a considerable deceleration from 9.4% growth estimated in 2021, it comes mainly from the base effects of the contraction of 2.5% recorded in 2020,” adding that, “We project total household spending (in real terms) to reach BWP59.9bn (USD8.8bn) in 2022, increasing from BWP56.5bn (USD8.3bn) in 2021.”  According to Fitch Solutions, this is higher than the pre-Covid-19 total household spending (in real terms) of P53.0 billion (USD7.8bn) in 2019 and it indicates a full recovery in consumer spending.

“We forecast real household spending to grow by 5.9% in 2022, decelerating from the estimated growth of 9.4% in 2021. We note that the Covid-19 pandemic and the related restrictions on economic activity resulted in real household spending contracting by 2.5% in 2020, creating a lower base for spending to grow from in 2021 and 2022,” Fitch Solutions says.

Total household spending (in real terms), the agency says, will increase in 2022 when compared to 2021. In 2021 and 2022, total household spending (in real terms) will be above the pre-Covid-19 levels in 2019, indicating a full recovery in consumer spending, says Fitch Solutions.  It says as of December 6 2021 (latest data available), 38.4% of people in Botswana have received at least one vaccine dose, while this is relatively low it is higher than Africa average of 11.3%.

“The emergence of new Covid-19 variants such as Omicron, which was first detected in the country in November 2021, poses a downside risk to our outlook for consumer spending, particularly as a large proportion of the country’s population is unvaccinated and this could result in stricter measures being implemented once again,” says Fitch Solutions.

Growth will ease in 2022, Fitch Solution says. “Our forecast for an improvement in consumer spending in Botswana in 2022 is in line with our Country Risk team’s forecast that the economy will grow by a real rate of 5.3% over 2022, from an estimated 12.5% growth in 2021 as the low base effects from 2020 dissipate,” it says.

Fitch Solutions notes that “Our Country Risk team expects private consumption to be the main driver of Botswana’s economic growth in 2022, as disposable incomes and the labour market continue to recover from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
It says Botswana’s tourism sector has been negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and the related travel restrictions.

According to Fitch Solutions, “The emergence of the Omicron variant, which was first detected in November 2021, has resulted in travel bans being implemented on Southern African countries such as South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Eswatini. This will further delay the recovery of Botswana’s tourism sector in 2021 and early 2022.”  Fitch Solutions, therefore, forecasts Botswana’s tourist arrivals to grow by 81.2% in 2022, from an estimated contraction of 40.3% in 2021.

It notes that the 72.4% contraction in 2020 has created a low base for tourist arrivals to grow from.  “The rollout of vaccines in South Africa and its key source markets will aid the recovery of the tourism sector over the coming months and this bodes well for the employment and incomes of people employed in the hospitality industry, particularly restaurants and hotels as well as recreation and culture businesses,” the report says.

Fitch Solutions further notes that with economies reopening, consumers are demanding products that they had little access to over the previous year. However, manufacturers are facing several problems.  It says supply chain issues and bottlenecks are resulting in consumer goods shortages, feeding through into supply-side inflation.  Fitch Solutions believes the global semiconductor shortage will continue into 2022, putting the pressure on the supply of several consumer goods.

It says the spread of the Delta variant is upending factory production in Asia, disrupting shipping and posing more shocks to the world economy. Similarly, manufacturers are facing shortages of key components and higher raw materials costs, the report says adding that while this is somewhat restricted to consumer goods, there is a high risk that this feeds through into more consumer services over the 2022 year.

“Our global view for a notable recovery in consumer spending relies on the ability of authorities to vaccinate a large enough proportion of their populations and thereby experience a notable drop in Covid-19 infections and a decline in hospitalisation rates,” says Fitch Solutions.
Both these factors, it says, will lead to governments gradually lifting restrictions, which will boost consumer confidence and retail sales.

“As of December 6 2021, 38.4% of people in Botswana have received at least one vaccine dose. While this is low, it is higher than the Africa average of 11.3%. The vaccines being administered in Botswana include Pfizer-BioNTech, Sinovac and Johnson & Johnson. We believe that a successful vaccine rollout will aid the country’s consumer spending recovery,” says Fitch Solutions.  Therefore, the agency says, “Our forecasts account for risks that are highly likely to play out in 2022, including the easing of government support. However, if other risks start to play out, this may lead to forecast revisions.”

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