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Why Tertiary education sector is booming

HRDC acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr Patrick Molutsi

There has been a steep rise in tertiary education enrolment in Botswana since the government 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.

A report, titled “Tertiary Education at A Glance” published by the Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) indicates that government’s decision through its policy to sponsor students in registered tertiary institutions in the country has resulted in significant involvement of the private sector in the provision of tertiary education.

Enrolment at tertiary level has almost doubled, rising from 31 129 in the 2007/08 financial year to 60 583 in the 2014/15 financial year. The increase in 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, private tertiary institutions accounted for 42.6 percent of the students. A drastic growth experienced by almost all private institutions.

Government has made it a strategic prioritisation by focusing deeply on encouraging greater private participation, leading to gradual high levels of students enrolment recorded at private institutions to date.

This development has however not been without critics who question the capacity of private tertiary education institutions in delivering quality education.

During the 2014/15 financial year, of the 60 583 student enrolled in tertiary institutions, 95 per cent were reported to be government sponsored. This has consequently resulted in tuition fees and allowances spent by government on sponsored students averaging P2billion in the last seven years.

The Ministry of Education and Skills Development has also drastically reduced the number of students sent to study abroad. During the 2007/08 financial year 2706 students were sent to study abroad compared to only 204 during the 2014/15 financial year.

Botswana is the highest spender on education in proportion to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the region but remain inferior to countries like South Africa, Namibia and Mauritius in terms of access to tertiary education.

According to the HRDC, there are many students who are eligible for tertiary education but do not have access to it. HRDC has recommended that Ministry of Education expands the current system in order to meet the rising demand.

The Global Competiveness Report, compiled by World Economic Forum has also repeatedly stated that Botswana’s enrolment remains lower by international standards especially for an upper-middle income country. In the 2014/15 report Botswana was ranked 114 out of 144 countries in the world, while Finland has been consistently ranked higher than almost all competing economies.

The HRDC report also 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 course 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.”

Another concern raised by the report is that, although many Batswana are enrolling for tertiary education, more than 50 per cent of programmes registered and accredited with Botswana Qualifications Authority (BQA) are still Diploma based. Degrees are only offered in three institutions and this translates that Botswana’s enrolment is highly skewed to Undergraduate than Post-Graduate programmes.

“This essentially means, any effort aimed at increasing access and participation in the local tertiary education, is likely to translate into more enrolment for undergraduate programme at the expense of others, therefore suppressing the participation in research and lifelong learning programmes,” it states.

HRDC acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr Patrick Molutsi told a press briefing this week that the annual Tertiary Education Fair which comprises of career clinics has helped students in choosing careers.

Dr Molutsi noted that the enrolment trend in the last few years indicates that students are now enrolling for programmes which are critical needed by the economy.
He said this is in line with HRDC mandate to turn around Botswana’s education and training system from supply-led into a demand driven system.

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Khan: Boko, Masisi are fake politicians

18th January 2021
Masisi & Boko

While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.

Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.

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Ookeditse rejects lobby for BPF top post

18th January 2021
LAWRENCE-OOKEDITSE

Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.

Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.

Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”

“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.

He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.

He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.

According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.

There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.

Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.

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BDP cancels MPs retreat

18th January 2021
President Masisi

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.

“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication.
The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.

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