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The role of education in economic growth


Introduction
In Botswana, education has, through the years, received the largest share of the government budget. In the 2014/2015 budget, for example, the allocation to the Ministry of education and Skills Development was P9, 26 billion or 28 percent of the recurrent budget, an increase of P1, 05 billion or 0.3 percent over the 2013/2015 budget. Invariably, the expenditure on education raises several questions.


Should the Botswana government really spend so much money on education? Is the Government getting a good return on this type of investment? What should be the basic strategy of the expenditure on education growth? What really is the role of education in economic growth? This article examines the role of education in economic growth and addresses some of these questions.


How education enhances economic growth
Economists have identified three ways in which education enhances economic growth; firstly education raises the efficiency of the labour, which in turn raises labour productivity and economic growth. Second, education induces innovation and technological progress; these factors which enhance economic growth.

Thirdly, education facilitates the acquisition of foreign technology. It is asserted that presently, new technology is generated mainly by the developed countries in Europe and North America. Once created, the new technology is then diffused worldwide through different channels, the major ones being international trade and foreign direct investment. However it is argued that a country must have absorptive capacity before it can successfully acquire foreign technology and this enhances economic growth.


The importance of education in the acquisition of foreign technology has been emphasised. It is observed that modern economic growth depends mainly on the international transfer of technology, which subsequently depended on education. The economic growth of Europe and North America has been explained by the fact that masse education was already fairly well established by the early nineteenth century in England, France, Germany, and the United States of America.


Quantity versus quality in education
The quantity of education is measured by the student enrolments and years of schooling. This has been the general focus through the years and it is an approach government by the assumption that the more enrolments ad years of schooling, the higher the economic growth rate., However, three basic problems have been identified in this approach, First the amount of knowledge that students gain in a year varies across countries, it is higher in some countries than theirs. Secondly, schooling is not the only means of acquiring skills. Rather skills can be acquired at the workplace from family and peers. Thirdly what really matters for economic growth is education quality and not quantity.


Quality of education is measured by what students learn that is the cognitive skills- basic mathematics reading and writing skills. These skills are considered to be more significant for economic growth than the mere quantity of education. Since schooling and learning are not necessarily joint outcomes, we need to ensure that students learn when they are schooling. Schooling is about showing up for classes while learning is about acquiring knowledge that makes a person functionally literate.


The case of Botswana
Figure 3 shows the trends in student enrolment in Botswana at all levels of education during the period 1974 to 2007. On the other hand, Figure 4 shows only the enrolments at tertiary institutions namely the University of Botswana and vocational and technical colleges. Clearly from these figures, there has been a substantial increase in student enrolments in Botswana. This means that the quantity of education has risen in Botswana and therefore is how to enhance quality of education.


As expected primary education has highest enrolment of students; followed by secondary; and then tertiary education. Because, at any given time, most students are in primary school, education quality should target primary schools. Targeting quality at primary school level will, as they say produce the greatest good for the greatest numbers. It will lay a solid foundation for higher levels of learning and reduce the attrition at secondary and tertiary levels.

Why? This is because “children must learn how to learn” Precisely the specific policies that can improve education quality in primary school include incentives for primary school teachers , reducing the student teacher ratio by increasing the number of teachers, improving discipline updating school curricula and re training of teaches , improving testing tools and procedures. Thus in the 2015/2016 budget, the Government of Botswana has allocated P644 million for operation costs of teaching staff and P235,83 million for in service training.


 The gap is unnecessary because the skills acquired from vocational and technical training are required for enhanced economic growth. Mupimpila and Narayanu (2009), for example, find a positive and significant impact of vocational and technical training on economic growth in Botswana.


In conclusion, we to turn to the questions raised at the beginning of this article. Should the Botswana government really spend so much money on education? Is the Government getting a good return on this type of investment? To answer these questions we consider the fact that substantial increase in student enrolments in Botswana occurred after the mid-1980s.

This suggests that the Botswana Government has among others invested in reproducible capital such as machines. In essence the Hartwick rule holds that revenue from a non-renewable resource such as diamonds should be invested in other economic activities that will yield income, output economic activities that will yield income output employment and consumption in the future after the non-renewable resource is depleted.


It is principle that s implied by the bank of Botswana in its annual report of 2017. Therefore on purely economic grounds, it is necessary for Botswana government to continue to spend so much money on education.
The dividends for this type of investment may not be apparent now but they will in the future.

By contrast the skills mismatch and the high graduate unemployment which are now prevalence in Botswana suggest that the government might not be getting good return on investment. Moreover, competitiveness reports rank Botswana lowly on the quality of education. The issue really is how to increase the quality of education and produce graduates that are demanded by employers.


This report is adopted from the Stanbic Bank Quarterly Economic Review, 2015

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13 AUGUST 2022 Publication

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DIS blasted for cruelty – UN report

26th July 2022
DIS BOSS: Magosi

Botswana has made improvements on preventing and ending arbitrary deprivation of liberty, but significant challenges remain in further developing and implementing a legal framework, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said at the end of a visit recently.

Head of the delegation, Elina Steinerte, appreciated the transparency of Botswana for opening her doors to them. Having had full and unimpeded access and visited 19 places of deprivation of liberty and confidentiality interviewing over 100 persons deprived of their liberty.

She mentioned “We commend Botswana for its openness in inviting the Working Group to conduct this visit which is the first visit of the Working Group to the Southern African region in over a decade. This is a further extension of the commitment to uphold international human rights obligations undertaken by Botswana through its ratification of international human rights treaties.”

Another good act Botswana has been praised for is the remission of sentences. Steinerte echoed that the Prisons Act grants remission of one third of the sentence to anyone who has been imprisoned for more than one month unless the person has been sentenced to life imprisonment or detained at the President’s Pleasure or if the remission would result in the discharge of any prisoner before serving a term of imprisonment of one month.

On the other side; The Group received testimonies about the police using excessive force, including beatings, electrocution, and suffocation of suspects to extract confessions. Of which when the suspects raised the matter with the magistrates, medical examinations would be ordered but often not carried out and the consideration of cases would proceed.

“The Group recall that any such treatment may amount to torture and ill-treatment absolutely prohibited in international law and also lead to arbitrary detention. Judicial authorities must ensure that the Government has met its obligation of demonstrating that confessions were given without coercion, including through any direct or indirect physical or undue psychological pressure. Judges should consider inadmissible any statement obtained through torture or ill-treatment and should order prompt and effective investigations into such allegations,” said Steinerte.

One of the group’s main concern was the DIS held suspects for over 48 hours for interviews. Established under the Intelligence and Security Service Act, the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) has powers to arrest with or without a warrant.

The group said the “DIS usually requests individuals to come in for an interview and has no powers to detain anyone beyond 48 hours; any overnight detention would take place in regular police stations.”

The Group was able to visit the DIS facilities in Sebele and received numerous testimonies from persons who have been taken there for interviewing, making it evident that individuals can be detained in the facility even if the detention does not last more than few hours.

Moreover, while arrest without a warrant is permissible only when there is a reasonable suspicion of a crime being committed, the evidence received indicates that arrests without a warrant are a rule rather than an exception, in contravention to article 9 of the Covenant.

Even short periods of detention constitute deprivation of liberty when a person is not free to leave at will and in all those instances when safeguards against arbitrary detention are violated, also such short periods may amount to arbitrary deprivation of liberty.

The group also learned of instances when persons were taken to DIS for interviewing without being given the possibility to notify their next of kin and that while individuals are allowed to consult their lawyers prior to being interviewed, lawyers are not allowed to be present during the interviews.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention mentioned they will continue engaging in the constructive dialogue with the Government of Botswana over the following months while they determine their final conclusions in relation to the country visit.

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Stan Chart halts civil servants property loan facility

26th July 2022
Stan-Chart

Standard Chartered Bank Botswana (SCBB) has informed the government that it will not be accepting new loan applications for the Government Employees Motor Vehicle and Residential Property Advance Scheme (GEMVAS and LAMVAS) facility.

This emerges in a correspondence between Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance Boniface Mphetlhe and some government departments. In a letter he wrote recently to government departments informing them of the decision, Mphetlhe indicated that the Ministry received a request from the Bank to consider reviewing GEMVAS and LAMVAS agreement.

He said: “In summary SCBB requested the following; Government should consider reviewing GEMVAS and LAMVAS interest rate from prime plus 0.5% to prime plus 2%.” The Bank indicated that the review should be both for existing GEMVAS and LAMVAS clients and potential customers going forward.

Mphetlhe said the Bank informed the Ministry that the current GEMVAS and LAMVAS interest rate structure results into them making losses, “as the cost of loa disbursements is higher that their end collections.”

He said it also requested that the loan tenure for the residential property loans to be increased from 20 to 25 years and the loan tenure for new motor vehicles loans to be increased from 60 months to 72 months.

Mphetlhe indicated that the Bank’s request has been duly forwarded to the Directorate of Public Service Management for consideration, since GEMVAS and LAMVAS is a Condition of Service Scheme. He saidthe Bank did also inform the Ministry that if the matter is not resolved by the 6th June, 2022, they would cease receipt of new GEMVAS and LAMVAS loan applications.

“A follow up virtual meeting was held to discuss their resolution and SCB did confirm that they will not be accepting any new loans from GEMVAS and LAMVAS. The decision includes top-up advances,” said Mphetlhe. He advised civil servants to consider applying for loans from other banks.

In a letter addressed to the Ministry, SCBB Chief Executive Officer Mpho Masupe informed theministry that, “Reference is made to your letter dated 18th March 2022 wherein the Ministry had indicated that feedback to our proposal on the above subject is being sought.”

In thesame letter dated 10 May 2022, Masupe stated that the Bank was requesting for an update on the Ministry’s engagements with the relevant stakeholder (Directorate of Public Service Management) and provide an indicative timeline for conclusion.

He said the “SCBB informs the Ministry of its intention to cease issuance of new loans to applicants from 6th June 2022 in absence of any feedback on the matter and closure of the discussions between the two parties.”  Previously, Masupe had also had requested the Ministry to consider a review of clause 3 of the agreement which speaks to the interest rate charged on the facilities.

Masupe indicated in the letter dated 21 December 2021 that although all the Banks in the market had signed a similar agreement, subject to amendments that each may have requested. “We would like to suggest that our review be considered individually as opposed to being an industry position as we are cognisant of the requirements of section 25 of the Competition Act of 2018 which discourages fixing of pricing set for consumers,” he said.

He added that,“In this way,clients would still have the opportunity to shop around for more favourable pricing and the other Banks, may if they wish to, similarly, individually approach your office for a review of their pricing to the extent that they deem suitable for their respective organisations.”

Masupe also stated that: “On the issue of our request for the revision of the Interest Rate, we kindly request for an increase from the current rate of prime plus 0.5% to prime plus 2%, with no other increases during the loan period.” The Bank CEO said the rationale for the request to review pricing is due to the current construct of the GEMVAS scheme which is currently structured in a way that is resulting in the Bank making a loss.

“The greater part of the GEMVAS portfolio is the mortgage boo which constitutes 40% of the Bank’s total mortgage portfolio,” said Masupe. He saidthe losses that the Bank is incurring are as a result of the legacy pricing of prime plus 0% as the 1995 agreement which a slight increase in the August 2018 agreement to prime plus 0.5%.

“With this pricing, the GEMVAS portfolio has not been profitable to the Bank, causing distress and impeding its ability to continue to support government employees to buy houses and cars. The portfolio is currently priced at 5.25%,” he said.  Masupe said the performance of both the GEMVAS home loan and auto loan portfolios in terms of profitability have become unsustainable for the Bank.

Healso said, when the agreement was signed in August 2018, the prime lending rate was 6.75% which made the pricing in effect at the time sufficient from a profitable perspective. “It has since dropped by a total 1.5%. The funds that are loaned to customers are sourced at a high rate, which now leaves the Bank with marginal profits on the portfolio before factoring in other operational expenses associated with administration of the scheme and after sales care of the portfolio,” said the CEO.

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