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Disturbing News About Possible Future Closure of UB?

Bernard Busani

 

While I fully agree that our universities namely, University of Botswana (UB), Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) and Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural sciences (BUAN) should adapt to meet the needs of our economy, it is the responsibility of government as the custodian of these national institutions to ensure that they do that through a systematic and informed process. 

 

The leadership of these institutions must be held accountable if they fail to adapt given the specific direction informed by an agreed strategic plan initiated through the board of directors and government for the given institution.

 

The institutions should not be allowed to suffer and consequently close because of the ineffective and unresponsive leadership of such institutions. These three institutions of higher learning were built and are run through public funds for the benefit of all our people.

 

As Batswana we are very nostalgic about these institutions especially UB that was built by Batswana through ‘motho le motho kgomo’. Any talk of possible closure of these institutions will deeply anger all Batswana. These institutions belong to the nation; they exist to produce people required by the economy and nothing else.

 

If they do not achieve that then it is the responsibility of the owner, the government, to ensure that the courses are developed to serve the nation and if university management is not equipped to deliver that, then they should find leadership that can deliver instead of threatening to close such institutions.

 

These universities do not exist to serve their own interests, but the interests of the nation. These three public universities should not be seen to be competing with one another other; they should rather be complementing each other. They should not be fighting for resources rather they should be working together for win-win outcomes for the nation.

 

If there is any competition it should be on the quality of the products (students) they produce as this would be determined by the quality of the leadership and managements systems at the three institutions. There other difference should be the specific courses they offer, they should not be offering the same courses as that would be tantamount to wasting public funds.

 

I have however noticed that some of the courses offered by UB are also offered by BIUST, there is need to rationalise these to avoid unnecessary and unhealthy completion. The baseline for success for these three institutions should however be the same; the funding criteria; the recruitment criteria; even perhaps the same board of directors for all these institutions.

 

The only defining difference should be the courses they offer and the leadership of these institutions and consequently the quality of the products as intimated above. The number of students enrolled both local and international (attraction) will also differ depending on the courses offered and degree of attraction from the institutions. The government through the board can or should then use this differentiator to apply some corrective measures through performance bonuses and managing out dead wood at these institutions.

 

What prompted me to write this installment is the sad news that has been running the rounds about UB for sometime now about possible future closure due to funding constraints and failure by UB to adapt to changing educational requirements to meet the national economic challenges? Recent alarming revelations attributed to the vice chancellor about the financial status of UB and future possible closure due failure by government to honour its financial obligations paints a sad picture about the fate of our pubic institutions.

 

 The comments attributed to the junior ministers of higher learning which states that UB must ‘adapt or die’ are comments that can be made by the minister who do not appreciate his responsibility and his role in the affairs of UB. He is the sponsor and represents the owner of UB which is government for the people.

 

The nation has entrusted him to oversee and guide UB.  With what has happened to BCL, the 4000 employees, their families, dependent relatives and business around Phikwe, we should not be surprised to here that UB is facing the same fate of closure. Our government has become so cruel, so heartless that anything is possible without any due regard to the outcomes.

 

The vice chancellor is right in his assertions that government should have engaged UB and all its institutions of higher leaning and together come up with short, medium and long term plans for restructuring the existing courses and coming up with new courses that are required by the economy.

 

The government should have engaged effectively and proactively the likes of Business Botswana, Chamber of Mines and Chambers of Commence through HRDC and then provide a directive to UB and all its institutions on which courses to offer by when, giving UB and others reasonable time frame to implement.  I must say I have however seen a list of courses recommended by HRDC to the institutions.

 

I was surprised at some of these courses and wondered who recommended them. I believe they will still not meet the demands of our industries. To me it seems like these courses came from the mushrooming private institutions in the country and most of these courses are irrelevant to the current needs of our economy.

 

These are the courses our government has chosen to sponsor thereby growing the coffers of these private institutions and consequently suffocating UB of much needed sponsorship and cash flow. Have we been sold dummies by many of these institutions? Who are the shareholders of these private institutions, just asking? 

 

By the way as said by Business Botswana recently, industry must do their part through a collaborative effort to up-skill graduates, universities can only provide education and industry must train. This does not just happen though; it is facilitated through a structured approach by government and the private sector.

 

The so called private institutions are wholly sponsored by our government as all the students are sponsored by government using public funds. I wouldn’t be bothered if these institutions were privately sponsored like our primary and secondary private schools which are wholly self-sponsored.

 

The students are mostly self sponsored; the quality of education is much better than that of public schools for a number of reasons including superior leadership and management by the owners and teacher student ratios. Now I would not be bothered if these so called private tertiary institutions where run on the same basis as the private primary and secondary schools.

 

The student going to these schools should be mainly self sponsored or foreign students sponsored by their own government, parents and private institutions. Government should only be sponsoring deserving students who cannot be placed at our three public institutions because such courses are only offered at these private institutions.

 

So these private institutions should only be complementing government efforts to meet our skills development challenges not seeking to be solely sponsored by the public through our government. This to me is like defrauding the nation. These institutions should be bringing in capital in the country not just taking money out of the country and into private hands.

 

Depriving UB and other public intuitions of the requisite financial sponsorship causing possible future closure is the height of ineptitude; sponsoring private institutions is like denying your own children sponsorship and sponsoring your neigbour’s children using your own family resources.

 

This is ludicrous and devoid of logic. We see the same logic where citizens are not given the opportunities for requisite skilling and job placement while we are happy to be getting such skills from others outside the country; accepting the bigoted notion that our people are lazy and unproductive when in fact we are responsible for the laziness and unproductive spirit we seen to decry. This is duplicity that our future generations will loathe us for.

 

In conclusion, the government must not be thinking of shutting UB at all or even down sizing it, rather they should be working with UB to develop tailor made courses for the nation using infrastructure already developed. We hear of missing unaccounted millions of Pula in the ministry of education and elswhere, so money is not the problem, the problem is leadership and management of our national resources. I rest my case.

 

EMAIL: Bernard.busani@gmail.com    Tel: 71751440

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020
JEFF---Batswana-smoke-unit

Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.

The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.

Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.

At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.

Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).

This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.

In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.

Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?

Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.

POSITIVITY
Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.

“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)

We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”

UNDERSTANDING

Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.

Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be.  You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”

COMMITMENT

Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.

When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.

ACCEPTANCE

Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.

However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.”
“Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)

COMPASSION, MUTUAL LOVE AND RESPECT

Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.

It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.

Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.

Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

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