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UB celebrates 40th anniversary

UB

The University of Botswana community is celebrating 40 years of academic excellence. To commemorate the occasion, the Minister of Education and Skills Development, Dr. Douglas Letholathebe, officially launched the university’s 40th anniversary celebrations on June 8, 2022.

The event was held at the university’s campus in Gaborone. According to David Norris, the vice chancellor of the university, the 40th anniversary is a crucial stage in a university’s development as it allows the students to identify their priorities and re-align themselves with the society it was established to serve. He said that the time has come for the university to reflect on its past and determine if it is still playing a meaningful role in the community.

In 1964, University of Bechuanaland (Botswana), Basutoland (Lesotho) and Swaziland (UBBS) was founded to reduce the three countries reliance on tertiary education in the apartheid-era South Africa. After Botswana and Lesotho became independent in 1966 the university was called the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland (UBLS). In 1976 the Government of Lesotho decided to nationalize UBLS.

Due to the difficulties experienced by local students, the Government of Botswana was forced to provide them with an alternative arrangement. In response, the national assembly passed a bill to establish a university in the city of Gaborone. The campaign for the university’s establishment was launched through the slogan “motho le motho kgomo,” which literally means one man, one beast – proposed by Willy Seboni. This was the idea behind the campaign, which was adopted by the house across political lines.

Dr Potlako Molefe, who was present at the UB 40th anniversary celebration launch, was appointed as the coordinator of BUCA By the late former president of Botswana Sir Seretse Khama. He was assisted by a team of four people namely; the late Hon Chapson J. Butale; the late Boniface Masete, the late Peter Allison and Lorraine Mothathedi.

To kickstart the BUCA campaign the late first president of Botswana Sir Seretse Khama, donated 30 heads of cattle. Other donations were received from Batswana working in South Africa, mines and The Employment Bureau of Africa offices (TEBA). Interviews were made to give Batswana a platform to express how the appeal can be improved.

The target set for the campaign – 1million – was achieved in a record time of about 4-6 months. Like any other projects or campaign the BUCA encountered some hiccups. The BUCA experienced the resistance from some farming community mainly along the borders of South Africa, whose children have always studied in South Africa due to lack of education facilities in areas like Kgalagadi, Tuliblock.

Some people also claimed that the country could not afford to establish a university due to its poor economic situation. However, the campaign was still successful and the necessary remedial measures were taken.

While giving his speech at the celebratory launch, the coordinator of BUCA Dr Potlako Molefe, stated that not only have they managed to achieve their set target, they exceeded it due to the principles of patriotism, political will, morale and unity.

Many Batswana are proud to refer to UB as Mmadikolo build from contributions received from motho le motho kgomo, one man one beast. Dr Molefe stated that it is very unfortunate that this principles are slowly fading away.

Batswana like other nations are indulged in enterprenual zest, to do things for themselves when an opportunity comes which would in time be a prominence to nation building., he said. Dr Molefe also called the administration of the University of Botswana to remember and commemorate the loss of students of Swaneng Hill School, who lost their lives due to a car accident while on their way to a fund raising evening they have organised in Serowe.

The University of Botswana was established 0n the 1st July 1982 and it is the first high education institution to be established in Botswana. It was formally inaugurated on the 23rd of October 1982 by the former president of Botswana and former chancellor of UB Dr Festus Gontebanye Mogae, who was also present at the celebratory launch.

The institution has a population of 17000 people among them 3000 staff members; and 180 teachers (academic staff). There are 192 programmes and they also offer Bachelors, Masters and PhD degrees. Since 1982 till present day the University of Botswana has produced 84000 graduates. The University of Botswana has also satellite office in Francistown and Maun.

The institution also has numerous faculties or department namely; faculty of business, education, engineering and technology, health sciences, humanities, law, medicine, science, and social sciences. The 2020/21 Times Higher Education (THE) Word University Rankings Report has placed the University of Botswana at the top cementing its national standing as Botswanas premier institution of higher learning.

According to the report, in Africa UB is ranked 27th while globally it is ranked 1068.Placing 27th in Africa means UB is among the Top 30 highly recognised and competitive universities in the continent. Even its library is counted among the best in Africa both in size and resourcefulness. The institution does not only provide high education and learning, it also carries out high quality research, which has influenced policy development over the years.

The audience was entertained by local performers namely; Tswana Sanctified Voices, KTM Choir and Friends Band. Among the audience present, there was Minister of finance Hon Peggy Serame, Minister of Trade &Industry Hon Mmusi Kgafela, Vice chancellor of BIUST prof Otlogetse Totolo, and IDM’s Dr Theophilas Mooko.

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BAC graduates 727 students this year

9th December 2022

Botswana Accountancy College (BAC) last week held its 2022 graduation where 727 students graduated after spending the last two years of their academic studies navigating through the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

It is said that during the pandemic, BAC provided students with laptops, tablets and data sim cards to facilitate virtual learning and blended learning. The Acting Minister of Education and Skills Development at the ceremony, Wilhemina Makwnja noted that the students managed to create connections and build bridges to reach their ultimate goals, therefore their graduation is not only testimony of their strength and resilience, but it also demonstrates their commitment to excel by facing the challenges they encountered head on to break through the barriers and focused on their success.

“I trust that the graduates will build onto these qualities and competencies as they venture into the industry to impart their skills in the various sectors of the economy,” said Makwinja. She also shared that she strongly believes that the graduates will become agents of change and that they will take advantage of the spectrum of opportunities available in the market both locally and internationally.

Living in an era of digital economies, e-commerce, fin-tech and many other new eco-systems that have been created as the world continues to evolve, it is said to be inevitable that we all need to be steadfast and adapt to the rapid changes experienced before the pandemic. “As part of the transformation agenda, the Ministry of Entrepreneurship has been established with a mandate to drive development of sustainable industries and trade, and this can be achieved through ‘accelerated transformative investments in Botswana’,” said Makwinja.

She further noted it is through the Ministry that youth entrepreneurship projects will be supported including administration of the Youth Development Fund that facilitates funding commercialization of various youth projects. “There are other Government incentives in Agriculture which are aimed at supporting Batswana farmers with commercialization of their produce to supply both the local market and exporting to other markets,” added Makwinja.

The BAC Executive Director, Serty Leburu on the other hand enunciated that it was important to recognise that the past years they have gone through a lot of changes and mostly life defining moments as the school lost some valuable staff members and students during the Covid-19 pandemic. “The environment within which we operate has been changing rapidly and as an institution we have to constantly come up with some interventions and pivot ourselves in order to rise to the test and adapt,” said Leburu.

Leburu also renowned that they were also launching the BAC 2022-2027 Institutional Strategy focusing on key areas for Teaching and Learning, Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Transition to University Status and Internationalization, Asset Mobilisation and Optimization as well as Student and Staff experience. “It is our ambition to continue to expand into other markets to provide access to our programs through partnerships and collaborations with both local and international private and public entities,” added Leburu

In addition to this, she reflected that research, innovation, and consultancy are some of the areas they are making strides to develop and grow in partnership with various stakeholders. Through the schools there are projects that are being worked on at various levels. “As BAC we continue to work with the industry and our partners, we assess the market to identify training and development needs to capacitate employees to meet the demands of the new and evolving economies,” concluded Leburu.

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Media have a Role in Accelerating Harm Reduction Adoption

8th December 2022

African Scientists and Experts Call for the adoption of a Harm Reduction in approach in Public Health Strategies and Tobacco Control. Media have a critical role to play in accelerating Harm Reduction efforts by informing and sensitizing cigarette smokers on the availability and benefits of alternative, potentially lower risk products to cigarretes. Traditional cessation and smoking prevention norms are not the only ways that smokers who cannot or don’t’ want to quit can make healthier choices that cause less harm to themselves and those around them.

This was said during the 2nd Harm Reduction Exchange conference for African journalists held in Nairobi, Kenya on the 1st of December 2022. Speaking at the Harm Reduction Exchange Conference, Integra Africa Principal Dr. Tendai Mhizha emphasized the role that journalists and media houses should play in handling misinformation and disinformation in tobacco harm reduction discourse that is actually perpetuating the death and disease caused by people continuing to smoke combustible cigarettes. “There has been a lot of disinformation surrounding the topic of nicotine and the alleged negative effects that e-cigarettes have on public health.

This has led to policies that disfavour risk reduces products and narratives that completely deny their benefits. The media have the difficult responsibility to curb the scourge of disinformation and misinformation on harm reduction just like on other socio-political stances that are prescriptive and do not uphold consumers’ right to healthier lifestyle choices,” Dr Mhizha said.

The Harm Reduction Exchange cast a spotlight on alternative ways to reduce harm among tobacco smokers. Held under the theme Harm Reduction: Making a difference in Africa, the conference focused on the progress being made through harm reduction strategies in all fields related to public health such as drug and alcohol abuse, excessive sugar consumption, skin lightening and other addictive and behavioral practices. A wide array of harm reduction strategies and initiatives that are deployed towards reducing unnecessary deaths through non-communicable diseases were presented and discussed.

On his part, Prof. Abdoul Kassé, a world renowned and awarded Oncologist and a Professor of Surgery at the Cancer Institute in Senegal, said that Harm Reduction is a powerful public A Summary of the HR Exchange 30th November  1st December 2022 health tool that has the potential to reduce cancer by 30% and should be at the centre of all public health development strategies. Harm reduction, he said, has already benefited many people in public health and is the most viable alternative in tobacco control.

It applies to areas where there is a need to reduce the harm associated with a practice or consumption of a substance that is overused in society leading to increased morbidity and mortality. “Innovative Harm Reduction initiatives will help to keep more Africans alive. Tobacco Harm Reduction initiatives, including the use of popular e-cigarettes, nicotine patches and chewing gums, have continued to generate a lot of misunderstanding in both the public health community and in the media. However, there is evidence that the use of potentially less harmful alternatives than cigarettes for those who are not willing or cannot give up smoking with currently approved methods may be a solution, not necessarily the best for everyone but by far better than continuous smoking.

Where cessation repeatedly fails, switching to less harmful products is expected to result in benefits for many smokers,” Prof. Abdoul Kassé said. Similarly, views were expressed by Kenya’s Dr. Vivian Manyeki who said tobacco Harm Reduction has a solid scientific and medical basis, and it has a lot of promise as a public health measure to assist millions of smokers. “Many smokers are unable, or at least unwilling, to achieve cessation through complete nicotine and tobacco abstinence. They continue smoking despite the very real and obvious adverse health consequences and against the multiple public health campaigns. Conventional smoking cessation proposals should be complemented with alternative but more realistic options through Harm Reduction,” Dr. Manyeki said.

Tobacco Harm Reduction was introduced to mitigate the damage caused by cigarette smoking—the most dangerous form of tobacco use, and the leading cause of preventable diseases, including cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. “Nicotine has an addictive potential but plays a minor role in smoking-related morbidity and mortality. Across the world, there is growing interest among experts in novel approaches towards tobacco control and there is an ongoing discussion that reducing the negative effects of smoking can be also achieved by tobacco harm reduction,” Dr. Kgosi Letlape, an ophthalmologist and President of Africa Medical Association and the president of the Association of Medical Councils of Africa, said.

Tobacco cessation is a key factor in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Abstinence from tobacco smoking is one of the primary goals for health promotion and management globally but it is unachievable in a huge amount of cases. This task remains unaccomplished despite extensive public campaigns on the health dangers of tobacco smoking. Thus, the development of novel strategies to reduce smoking is imperative. Moreover, the use of innovations in smoking products has been currently adopted by several smokers to reduce the health risks of smoking.

“The Harm Reduction approach prevents drug-related deaths and overdose fatalities and is the only way out for addicts. In the same way these alternative technologies can reduce tobacco harm and accelerate the journey to a smoke-free world as they reduce exposure to toxicants,” Bernice Apondi, A Policy Manager at Voices of Community Action and Leadership Kenya (VOCAL-Kenya), said.

During the Harm Reduction Exchange, journalists drawn from Southern, West and East African countries, including: Nigeria, Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Eswatini, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe debated and set forth several resolutions in regards to the present and future as well as the challenges and progress made in Harm Reduction,and science-led regulation.

The Harm Reduction Exchange brought together high-level policy makers, physicians, scientists and health policy experts with media stakeholders from Africa in a lively mix of speeches, presentations, and panel discussions. The key note speakers included Prof Abdoul Aziz Kasse, Ms Bernice Opondi, Joseph Magero, Jonathan Fell, Chimwemwe Ngoma, Clive Bates, Dr. Kgosi Letlape, Dr. Vivian Manyeki and Dr. Tendai Mhizha.

 

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Over 2 000 civil servants interdicted

6th December 2022

Over 2,000 civil servants in the public sector have been interdicted for a variety of reasons, the majority of which are criminal in nature.

According to reports, some officers have been under interdiction for more than two years because such matters are still being investigated. Information reaching WeekendPost shows that local government, particularly councils, has the highest number of suspended officers.

In its annual report, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) revealed that councils lead in corrupt activities throughout the country, and dozens of council employees are being investigated for alleged corrupt activities. It is also reported that disciplined forces, including the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), police, and prisons, and the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) have suspended a significant number of officers.

The Ministry of Education and Skills Development has also recorded a good number of teachers who have implicated in love relationships with students, while some are accused of impregnating students both in primary and secondary school. Regional education officers have been tasked to investigate such matters and are believed to be far from completion as some students are dragging their feet in assisting the investigations to be completed.

This year, Mmadinare Senior Secondary reportedly had the highest number of pregnancies, especially among form five students who were later forcibly expelled from school. Responding to this publication’s queries, Permanent Secretary to the Office of the President Emma Peloetletse said, “as you might be aware, I am currently addressing public servants across the length and breadth of our beautiful republic. Due to your detailed enquiry, I am not able to respond within your schedule,” she said.

She said some of the issues raised need verification of facts, some are still under investigation while some are still before the courts of law.

Meanwhile, it is close to six months since the Police Commissioner Keabetwe Makgophe, Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katlholo and the Deputy Director of the DIS Tefo Kgothane were suspended from their official duties on various charges.

Efforts to solicit comment from trade unions were futile at the time of going to press.

Some suspended officers who opted for anonymity claimed that they have close to two years while on suspension. One stated that the investigations that led him to be suspended have not been completed.

“It is heartbreaking that at this time the investigations have not been completed,” he told WeekendPost, adding that “when a person is suspended, they get their salary fully without fail until the matter is resolved”.

Makgophe, Katlholo and Kgothane are the three most high-ranking government officials that are under interdiction.

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