STEM pledge of 0.3% too low

Irene Shone - BG Correspondent
Thursday, 06 June 2019
STEM pledge of 0.3% too low

Botswana should participate in the 21st century technological revolution of microprocessors, telecommunications, biotechnology and nanotechnology, as per the world standard. Head of Ore Processing at Debswana Diamond Mining, Edwin Elias, said at the ongoing BIUST’ Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) festival in Palapye. 

According to him, Africa was once a cradle for Mathematics and Science and therefore schools must look into this to produce highly defined STEM graduates. “There is a new awakening in Africa as seen in the emergence of Science and Technology, (research and innovation) institutions and universities,” he said, emphasizing that Botswana should therefore focus on the question, ‘how the country is participating in this 21st century technological revolution of micro-processors, telecommunications, biotechnology and nanotechnology whose products transform business practices as well as the lives of all who access their utility’.

He is of the view that Botswana’s consciousness regarding the STEM revolution is not in doubt. He however, requested the Ministry of Tertiary Education, Research and Technology to relook into the 0.3 percent that they have pledged for STEM, to at least be increased to two percent in order to allow STEM, to smoothly progress as the 0.3 percent of GDP is low. 

“The 0.3 percent of GDP share for STEM cannot take us any closer to the pace setters in this economic race. My appeal is that while we may not possibly afford three percent of GDP for Research and Development like nations such as Japan, we may strive to at least two percent of GDP towards Research and Development,” he said. 

He further noted that this is the only way in which Botswana could realize the Vision 2036 pledge of ‘Botswana being a knowledge based economy’.  He is convinced that the 77 innovations that were exhibited varying in complexity and level of finish and exhibited by a cross section of innovators from primary schools, junior secondary, senior secondary and tertiary education as well as out of school youth and professional innovators even from international countries could make a difference in the STEM field of Botswana in the future.

“Shifting to a knowledge-based economy, the country aims at promoting the use of Science, Technology and Innovation in the social economic and business spheres in order to enhance benefits of efficiency,” he said.

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