Although the total public expenditure on the education sector has continued to attract a significant share, at least 22 percent of total government expenditure over the years, Director of Monitoring and Evaluation at Vision 2016, Dr Pelotshweu Moepeng is concerned that the money is not reflecting on the economy.
Dr Moepeng notes there is little evidence on the ground that funds spent on this high share of budget is spent on the local economy. He says the high education share in total government expenditure should be justified by jobs creation.
“Initially most of the funds a large proportion of the expenditure, about 20 per cent was spent on local and external placing for tertiary education. However, even after more local tertiary institutions are available, as complemented by private universities, education spending is not observed as stimulating the local economy,” he states.
According to a paper he authored to reflect on the Vision Pillar of An Educated and Informed Nation, Moepeng says in recent years, it has been found that home grown school feeding initiatives at primary school level are providing vital market to local farmers produce, especially in the first quarter of the year.
“It could be assumed that as the education sector remains the dominant government priority in terms of spending, this sector could generate direct jobs in the teaching sector, and indirect jobs in IT, furniture manufacturing and maintenance, transport sector, rentals, agriculture and others,” he writes.
The Director of When it comes to teachers’ accommodation in rural areas, government prefers to build houses for its staff instead of promoting the private sector property market and rent much good accommodation available, in the villages.
Milestones – Enrolments and Literacy rate The main objective of the paper was to outline the major success of the Vision 2016 long-term national plan objectives in the education sector and highlight priority issues that require the national debate to bring out the best ideas necessary to pitch the country to the next level and contribute to the efforts made to develop the next long-term plan.
At the time the Vision 2016 was initiated, access to basic education was a challenge in Botswana as was a problem of gender balance in different aspects of our education system, quality of education and exclusion of some sections of the population particularly in the settlements officially known as Remote Areas.
Moepeng notes that there is an increase in basic education enrolment and ensuring that every child in Botswana has access to basic education, and that the capacity of the education system is equipped to provide adequate and quality education.
“Currently the literacy rates among the youth is above 95 per cent and comparable to other countries in the middle income level. Botswana’s performance in youth literacy rates compares well to other middle income countries like South Africa, Malaysia and is way above Namibia.
Even though Botswana had the lowest youth literacy rates in the 1990s, her performance has improved from just below 85 per cent to the current more than 95 per cent. Overall, access to basic education from primary to junior secondary is guaranteed to most children in Botswana and this is major success of the Vision 2016. However, there remain pockets of children in Botswana who remain excluded from access to basic education, especially in the Ghanzi District.
Moepeng writes: “This situation has proved difficult to address despite many interventions that include boarding primary schools, parents’ involvement and persuasion, provision of both morning and evening meals to entice children, and out of school children programmes in schools. More work, especially in the social discipline studies need to be intensified to address this problem.”
Gender Balance According to Dr Moepeng’s paper, the gender balance in enrolments at in the basic education have generally been achieved across the country and by the year 2002, girls accounted for over half of gross enrolment in primary and secondary schools which was consistent with the demographic characteristics by gender (MFDP and UNDP, 2004; and CSO, 2001). Although prior to 1996, enrolments in Teacher Training Colleges was dominated by females, following the introduction of the Vision 2016, more and more males enrolled at teacher Training Colleges, which could have improved the gender balance in the trained teaching cadre.
Automatic Progression and Quality of Education Outcomes One of the major outcomes of high preference for education spending is increased transition rates from standard seven to secondary education. Moepeng says this has increased the overall number of years of schooling for many children in Botswana.
However, he notes that as many of these automatically transfer from primary to secondary education, irrespective of their performance in primary school education, it turns out that in recent years; there has been an increase in failure rate at secondary school level. Moepeng says the automatic transition from primary to secondary could be a major contributor increased failure rate in secondary education, as students who fail primary education are not immediately addressed by a selection process that includes improving the quality of students before they enter secondary education.
Education Content biased to Humanities and Social Sciences “Our education system remains dominated by the social sciences in terms of enrolment at tertiary education. This could imply that the target is not yet diverted from producing officers for employment in the civil service -an objective that was meant to replace expatriate workers in the civil service with locals,” writes Dr Moepeng.
Moepeng says the civil service is nearly 100 per cent localised, and the objectives of economic diversification require an educated and skilled nation that is ready to compete in the global economy.
“We should therefore reflect and re-assess the global demand of goods and services, to be in a position to promote the education of those services that are readily in demand. In the humanities for instance, one could open wider job choice opportunities by learning one of the most used Chinese languages,” he says.
Performance measurement and lack of relevant data Dr Moepeng indicates that available data on the education sector is not complete and sometimes limiting even when it is available to facilitate reasonable analysis for purpose of informed decision making.
“First, there is no historical data that is publicly available for use in monitoring and evaluation, which is comprehensive enough for researchers to measure the performance of the education sector effectively. For instance, there are issues of changes in syllabus and curricular that is possibly not accounted for in the data available, and some administrative decisions that can affect teaching and learning outcomes that might not be accommodated in the education data.”
He further notes that in some cases, the data is not decomposed in a manner that allows comparison of performance between rural and urban, private and public schools, education level of heads of schools and others variables necessary to enable adequate description of characters that influence performance.
Some vendors have been misled Vendors thrive on households goods and fresh produce
Despite the previous false allegations that the Tobacco Control Bill will lead to several 20 000 vendors across the country losing their jobs, several local vendors have expressed that they are ready for the bill and because vendors sell mostly household goods
“This is something that we openly accept and receive as street vendors, the problem is some of our counterparts were misled and made to believe that we will not be allowed to sell cigarettes on our stalls.
Some of us got to understand that the bill states that we have to be licensed to sell cigarettes, we are not supposed to sell them to children under the age of 18 years of age and eliminating the selling of single sticks. We understand that this agenda is meant to develop a healthy nation but not take us down,” said Mbimbi Tau a vendor who operates from Mogoditshane.
The Tobacco Control Bill has been passed in several countries and street vendors are operating properly without any challenges faced. Tau further mentioned that there is no way that the Tobacco Control Bill will affect their business operations, all they have to do as vendors are to get the required documentation and do what the bill requires.
Another vendor Busani Selalame who operates from Gaborone Bonnington North was not shy to express his support towards the Tobacco Control Bill, “the problem is that some people within our sector have been misled and now they think that the bill is meant to take our operations down and completely stop selling cigarettes.
I support the fact that we are not supposed to sell cigarettes to children who are under the age of 18 years of age this has always been wrong, as parents we should be cautious of such and ensure that our children are disassociated with cigarettes,” said Selalame.
The Tobacco Control Bill prohibits advertising, promotion and sponsorship by the tobacco industry to prevent messages, cues, and other inducements to begin using tobacco, especially among the youth, to reassure users to continue their use, or that otherwise undermine quitting.
Renowned economist Bakang Ntshingane is of the view that since vendors sell household goods and fresh produce they are likely to keep on making profits despite what the Tobacco Control Bill comes with. He further stated that the Tobacco Control Bill will not be of harm on the local economy since the country does not manufacture or produce any tobacco related products.
BancABC Botswana, the BSE-listed bank today announced its half year results for the six months ended 30 June 2021, against a subdued economic backdrop, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and related lockdowns.
BancABC has remained resilient in the current operating environment as business activity increased in the first half of 2021, with Real GDP up by 0.7% in the first quarter compared to a contraction of 4.6% in the previous quarter. Commenting on the results, Managing Director Kgotso Bannalotlhe said, “Currently, economic activity is relatively stable.
While COVID-19 placed significant pressure on the economy and our overall business, BancABC Botswana has shown remarkable resilience amid a tough operating environment. While the bank operates in an environment that is seeing a rise in COVID-19 infections, it is encouraging that the business has maintained a healthy capital adequacy ratio as well as being successful in improving total expenses with focus on cost containment across the board.”
The retail segment saw an increase in customer deposits this year, signalling an improvement from the previous period and strengthening the current funding mix. This segment has built great momentum and continues to advance its digital strategy, through various products such as the mobile banking app, SARUMoney, as well as enhanced product offerings such as the introduction of fash cash. The Bank has invested in its digital capabilities to ensure a seamless and hassle-free banking experience for all its customers.
The commercial segment was successful in reducing the cost of funding. In addition, Treasury and Global Markets performed well, doubling from the previous comparative period. The current year performance across the bank’s different segments is testament to the bank’s strong income lines, aiding the Bank’s resilience during this time.
“The Bank experienced slow loan book growth due to a constrained economic environment, however, we remain optimistic that as the economy recovers, credit appetite amongst the Bank’s customer-base will increase. In addition, we reported good non-interest revenue, driven by increased trading income on the back of improved margins and volumes. Our outlook remains positive as we expect momentum across the different segments to improve over time,” said Ratang Icho-Molebatsi, BancABC Botswana Finance Director.
In April 2021, BancABC Botswana’s ultimate holding company, Atlas Mara Limited, as well as ABC Holdings Limited and Access Bank Plc announced an agreement to a proposed acquisition of 78.15% of BancABC Botswana. The transaction presented an opportunity for BancABC Botswana’s strong retail banking operation to merge with Access Bank’s wholesale banking capabilities, augmenting itself as one of Africa’s leading banks.
“The transaction provides significant scope for revenue diversification and growth in the corporate and SME banking segment. Increased access to trade finance, treasury, international payments and loans through the wider distribution network offered by Access Bank’s presence in the key trade corridors that connect Africa to the rest of the world, presents solid opportunities for BancABC Botswana”, commented Icho-Molebatsi “With the transaction, BancABC Botswana’s customers stand to benefit from best-in-class digital platforms and product suites, leveraging Access Bank’s group IT infrastructure as well as other fintech solutions”, said Bannalotlhe.
Further, with Access Bank expanding its footprint into Botswana, it will position the Bank to deliver a more complete set of banking solutions to Batswana across the country”, concluded Bannalothle.
Last Friday, the board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group authorised a $137 million (P1.5 billion) loan to support Botswana’s Post COVID-19 pandemic economic recovery.
The funds, extended under the Bank Group’s Botswana Economic Recovery Support Program, will be used to enact multi-sector reforms that will increase spending efficiency, create jobs and drive inclusive growth.
The project has three components: enhancing domestic resource mobilisation and mitigating fiscal risks to enhance macroeconomic performance and create fiscal space for spending on social safety nets; supporting private sector-led agriculture and industry to bolster productivity and value addition and increase job opportunities, and offering business development services to micro and small enterprises to advance social protection and gender equity. The three components are expected to reinforce one another.
“The African Development Bank is providing support for reforms to enhance private sector-led agriculture and transformation of the industrial sector,” said Leila Mokadem, Director General of the Southern Africa Regional Development and Business Delivery Office. “Agriculture value addition can serve as a springboard for industrialisation and job creation,” she added.
The project aligns with the Bank Group’s Ten-Year Strategy (2013-2022) and its High Five strategic priorities, particularly Industrialise Africa and Improve the quality of life of the people of Africa. The African Development Bank observed that Botswana has a very low risk of debt distress and a positive medium-term growth outlook. However, a lack of economic diversification exposes the country to significant vulnerabilities.
The Bank Group’s active portfolio in Botswana amounts to UA 57.7 million ($81.9 million) and comprises four projects. The financial sector accounts for the largest share of the portfolio by industry (97.1%), followed by agriculture (1.7%) and industry (1.2%). In the past, the African Development Bank partnered with various Botswana government agencies to accelerate economic growth.
On the 21st of February 2020, the bank signed a thematic Line of Credit (LoC) of P900 Million for a 10-year tenor with Botswana Development Corporation (BDC), a wholly state-owned investment agency. This was during that time, the single largest transaction of its nature to ever take place in Botswana.
The LoC was penned to support the BDC’s long-term strategy to scale up its investments in critical sectors, including manufacturing, transport and service sectors, with the overall objective of supporting the transformation and industrialisation of the Botswana economy. BDC eyed a more comprehensive socio-economic benefit with this partnership, including attracting investments into the economy and employment creation.
The African Development Bank is a multilateral development finance institution. It has an overarching objective to spur sustainable economic development and social progress in its regional member countries (RMCs) through mobilising and allocating resources for investment and providing policy advice and technical assistance to support development efforts.
This transaction was poised to support further BDC’s focus on safeguarding its balance sheet to ensure financial sustainability whilst fulfilling its mandate as the Botswana Government’s principal investment arm.
The COVID-19 pandemic has landed massive blows on Botswana; apart from claiming more than 2300 lives thus far, the contagious plague has exacerbated existing growth challenges. The effects of the pandemic have led to an estimated real gross domestic product (GDP) contraction of 7.9% in 2020, according to the World Bank, worse than that of the 2009 global financial crisis.
The contraction reflects the impact that reduced global demand, travel restrictions and social distancing measures have had on output in crucial production and export sectors, including the diamond industry and tourism.
Botswana’s fiscal deficit is set to widen to 11.3% of GDP in FY2020/21, from 5.6% in FY2019/20, reflecting a sharp decline in mineral revenues, a sticky public sector wage bill, and the impact of the COVID-19 spending. Similarly, the current account deficit is estimated to have widened to 8 percent of GDP in 2020 following the sharp decline in diamond exports.
Developments in the global diamond industry will significantly impact the short-term recovery, given Botswana’s dependence on the commodity. While recovery is expected in 2021 due to a favourable outlook for the diamond industry, the economic impact of COVID-19 is likely to be deep and long-lasting. The P1.5 billion African Development Bank loan comes after the World Bank approved a P2.5 billion boost for Botswana early this year.
The Programmatic Economic Resilience and Green Recovery Development Policy Loan (DPL) will support the implementation of Botswana’s Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan and is designed to strengthen COVID-19 pandemic relief while bolstering resilience to future shocks.
In August, Botswana received the International Monetary Fund (IMF) 189 Special Drawing Rights allocation worth P3 billion. The IMF SDR is a non-currency asset that Botswana can convert into hard currency by trading it with other IMF member countries.