Search results for: higher education - Botswana Guardian

Gender wage gap exists in Botswana labour market as women earn less than men despite the increase in the labour market. Findings of a study conducted by Botswana Institute for Policy Analysis (BIDPA) shows that gender wage gap between men and women is 17 percent. 

According to the study compiled by Masedi Motswapong, wage differentials for local citizens, evidence suggests that women in mining and quarrying, construction, real estate and central government earn more than men. On the other hand, women in health, education and wholesale and retail trade earn considerably less than men, earning 60 percent and 75 percent of men’s wages.

According to the study findings, private returns to education tend to increase as the education level moves up and from lower parts of the wage distribution to higher parts with females getting higher returns. “As we move up the education level, females have higher returns to education than males in the lower and upper levels of the wage distribution,” the study says. Research statistics shows that male-female wage gap exists with respect to most characteristics, except in post-graduate education, workers in the private and NGO sectors and also in rural areas.

According to the figures, females with education attainment lower than the post-graduate level earn considerably less than males and those with postgraduate education earn 1.2 times more than males.  Motswapong revealed that males in the public sector earn more than females and females in the private sector earn more than males.

On the other hand females in the parastatals earn considerably less than males with the gap of 67 percent but females earn convincingly more than males in NGOs, three times as much on average. “This gap is not entirely unexpected because most of the NGOs are built on fighting for equal rights and are dominated by females,” states Motswapong. Furthermore females earn 1.1 times more than what males earn in rural areas and less than males in cities and urban villages.

However the study findings conclude that higher education is instrumental in giving females a competitive edge over their male counterparts. In addition empowerment of females in society should be promoted to change common perceptions of female workers in the labour market. “There is also a need to value females work in highly feminised sectors. For example attracting males into clerical support services, health and education sectors would also address the wage gap problem and address occupational segregation”.

Botswana ratified the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women in 1996 and also signed the SADC Declaration on Gender and Development in 1997 which committed member states to ensure the equal representation of women and men in decision making and the achievement of a target of women comprising at least 50 percent of the political and decision making structures by the year 2015.  Motswapong pointed out that despite all the efforts the country has embarked on, women continue to face challenges because gender disparities are still visible in the labour market.

“Even though there has been an increase in female labour force participation, the rate of increase has been lower than that of males,” the study says. Since 2008 the percentage of women employed in the economy increased from 43 percent of the total workforce to 49 percent in 2016 and the labour force participation rate stood at 56 percent which is lower than that of males which stood at 67 percent.

Published in News

Rapid growth in the number of students poses a challenge to the sustainability of higher education financing in Botswana. Human Resource Development experts concur that only innovative approaches can provide mid to long-term solutions to ensure financial sustainability of funding of higher education.

Dr Emmanuel Botlhale of the University of Botswana says it is inevitable to discuss the importance of human resource development whenever issues of funding of tertiary education are raised. This is because human resource development is key to issues of economic development.  “We need a competent human resource for key challenges that our country faces today. “In addition, Botswana aspires to reach higher levels of economic success and for us to deliver on the NDP11 and Vision 2036 and any other national development agenda, for example, there is critical need for a relevant human resource,” Botlhale said at the National Human Resource Development Conference recently.

Dr Botlhale is worried however that the current financing model is government driven and not sustainable. “We need ways in which we can go beyond this model. “This is not only the case in Botswana, empirical evidence shows that there are financing gaps in sub-Saharan Africa which need to be closed for us to move our countries forward,” he said. He added that Botswana needs to be innovative and adopt a new normal. Botswana currently has a human resource development gap according to the Human Resource Development Index.

The 2017 Global Human Capital report states that Botswana ranked 91 out of 130 countries. With aspirations to move away from a resource-based economy to a knowledge-based economy, Dr Botlhale believes that bold steps and decisions need to be taken. Firstly, he questions the efficiency of the loan/grant scheme that has proven not to be sustainable as there is reluctance of beneficiaries to pay back. Further there are no efficient and effective methods of collection. He worries that these grants are not even targeted to the most deserving candidates.  “We also need to do a cost benefit analysis to determine whether these grants are yielding the results they are supposed to. “These are not comfortable conversations but we need to have them because there are parents who could pay for their children’s university education, but they don’t because the grant is available.

“As long as a student has attained points above the cut off points, they are automatically funded,” Botlhale said, adding that in some instances, funded for qualifications that will not earn them employment. Currently, Botswana is said to have an estimated unemployment rate among the youth of 25 percent and projected to grow if not addressed. Additionally, it is estimated that there are currently over 87 000 unemployed graduates in Botswana. Another uncomfortable issue on the table is whether or not Botswana should be implementing cost sharing and or cost recovery in higher education financing. “Cost sharing is the way to go, because we are saying at least pay something. Cost recovery however, looks at recovering 100 percent of the cost,” Botlhale said.

Botlhale is also convinced that if Botswana could tap into what other countries are doing by adopting Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in financing tertiary education, she would go a long way.  Countries like India, Bangladesh and Pakistan have a robust PPP strategy that specifically talks to financing human resource development. “As far as PPPs are concerned we don’t want to reinvent the wheel, we can learn from the developing world that has more established PPP strategies in this area.” He recommends that Botswana could develop a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy that mandates companies operating in Botswana to dedicate part of their profits to CSR that is tied to financing human resource development.

For example, in India it is mandatory by law to set aside a certain percentage of profits towards financing education. Sixty percent of their profits go to Health and Education.  Singapore on the other hand has a human resource development model that has proven to work well where synergies are created with all stakeholders to fund tertiary education.

South Africa also has several innovative higher education funding models that have proven to bear fruit. One such is the Ikusasa Student Financial Aid Programme (ISAFAP) that was established to provide financial aid to poor and middle-income university students in selected fields of study.  Speaking at the National Human Resource Development Conference, founder of ISAFAP, Sizwe Nxasana said when he established the programme, he was responding to the question of whether higher education funding by government was sustainable among other issues.

He acknowledged that governments alone were not able to finance human resource development. “When we began, only government was funding higher education,” Nxasana said.But what worried him the most was that though government was financing higher education, the dropout rate was high at 55 to 60 percent. For every 10 students who start, only four or five would complete their courses, not even within the regulated time. The other challenge was that the country was not focusing on producing the necessary skills that they needed for the economic development.

The government-funding model was only concerned with whether the candidate comes from a poor family and whether they were registered at a given university. “This was not enough especially in a country that produced surplus skills, for example in areas of Humanity degrees, so there was no match of supply and demand,” Nxasana said, adding that ultimately this also contributed to a large number of unemployed graduates. What ISAFAP did, according to Nxasana was to approach organised business and involved them in trying to address the country’s financing challenges that were not addressed before. 

This meant that they would now come up with more efficient systems and focus on producing priority skills. “You cannot just go to companies to help you do this, but you need to approach them in an organised manner because they also have their priorities,” Nxasana said, adding that it also helps to approach for example, business umbrella bodies like banking association, engineer associations and use their moral persuasion to appeal for assistance. “This changed the narrative, not only was it about funding poor students, we are now looking into what curriculum universities are delivering and whether it will produce industry-ready students,” Nxasana said, adding that this nullifies the argument from private sector that there is a mismatch with what institutions of higher learning are producing and what they as industries are looking for.

“This is because they would be part of the funding of the very skills that they need.” Nxasana added that when private sector is involved, not just through their CSR initiatives, there is focus on priority skills because the private sector will not fund something that is not worthwhile. “You must speak the language that the private sector speaks if they understand a return on investment align your need with their interest so that they get involved in a meaningful way.”  He advised that Botswana takes advantage of multinational companies that should be playing a much bigger role in transforming Botswana’s economy as they are let off easily. “You can do a lot more to hold companies that are working in Botswana accountable,” he said.

Nxasana believes that the issue of tertiary funding goes beyond funding students from poor and working class background, but ensures that young people ultimately play a meaningful role in the economic development of the country.  “Let’s all look at funding as a means to an end,” Nxasana challenged participants. ISFAP assists students pursuing degrees in actuarial science, accounting, engineering, data science and medicine.  Currently, they are getting a 91 percent pass rate compared to 45 percent from the government’s funding model. This is because students are funded properly and given proper wrap around support throughout their course of study.”

Another option that Botswana has according to Nxasana is impact investing that has been implemented by countries like the US. The US has implemented income-sharing agreements, for example, where instead of giving a student a loan, a company takes equity stake in them. Upon completion of their studies, the student would pay a certain percentage of their salary to the company for a specific period. Impact investing is a huge trend in the world, according to Nxasana, which has become a multi-trillion dollar industry where there are philanthropists, social investors including big development financial institutions.

Published in News
Tuesday, 29 November 2016 10:06

Ba Isago aims high

Ba Isago, a leading private tertiary institution in the country, is upbeat at prospects of offloading half of its issued shares to a South African education group, saying it will help the company expands its student base and presence in Botswana and beyond the borders.

This week, it emerged that, Ba Isago has invited Curro Holdings as a 50 percent shareholder and strategic partner, marking the first biggest trans-boundary acquisition in the education industry to date. The Gaborone-headquartered university said the deal will ‘offer additional expansion opportunities’.

The growth will also be visible in the enrollment base at the 13-year old institution. With Curro on board, the university will be in a better position to increase its current enrollment from 3100 to 8800 in the next five years. Like other local private universities and colleges, the institution has been hard hit by government’s decision to cut spending on tertiary students this year.

The two companies have not disclosed any financial figures to the deal. “The deal is yet to be completed and we are not at liberty to disclose any financial information,” Ba Isago Business Development officer Anamika Singh told BG Business on Wednesday. A press conference to clarify any ‘burning issues’ regarding the deal will be held today (Friday), announced Singh. The founder of the school, Odirile Gabasiane is confident that the historic deal will come in handy for the company and indeed for the country’s broader objective of becoming a knowledge economy.

The Ba Isago boss has thanked the education ministry’s support over the years. Ba Isago offers various courses, starting with certificates to degrees. Fields of study include among others, finance, education, real estate and built environment. On the other side, Curro is a Johannesburg Stock Exchange company which runs more than 100 schools in South Africa, the region’s biggest economy. The company plans to have 200 schools including those in Botswana by 2020. The deal to acquire part of Ba Isago will be done through Curro subsidiary, Embury Institute for Higher Education.

Published in Business

It would be grossly fallacious to claim that President Khama’s latest comments on President Robert Mugabe are anything out of the ordinary. It has become too common. History is testimony that, Khama relishes at every available opportunity to throw political punches at Mugabe.

Typical of the Igbo proverb which says, “If a coward sees a man he can beat, he becomes hungry for a fight.” In his earlier days in office, I was of the view that such erratic foreign policy comments were merely proceeds of either ill advice or oversight. But I have come to live with the reality of his wilful ignorance conflated by privilege, if not prejudice.

But before Khama’s ardent disciples spit fire and venom on me, let me find refuge in facts. And one undeniable fact is, there is nothing wrong with Khama holding personal opinions, whether right or wrong, of which in most cases it is the latter, he is entitled. However, what stands contrary to the etiquette of diplomacy is the platform that carries such opinions. There are numerous diplomatic avenues availed to him to voice his opposition to Mugabe’s long hold on to power. I do not think open platforms are best vehicles to drive the point home.

The problem being that, by the time the message reaches the intended recipient, it would have purposely or otherwise gone through distortion, re-packaging and re-purposing. However, if Khama chooses to ignore the rules of the game, he should equally expect the same from others. In the end, this approach would be counterproductive as Botswana will constantly be in war of words with all kinds of people. Although these statements may accrue Khama political currency, especially in the West, the costs of such a move surely outweigh the benefits.

Another fact is that Zimbabwe has been at the forefront of Botswana’s Venson-Moitoi’s campaign for African Union Commission Chairperson. Their unflinching support was even acknowledged by Vice President Masisi upon his return from UN General Assembly. While other countries were generally sceptical if not outright dismissive on Venson-Moitoi’s potential, Zimbabwe shouldered the campaign and soldiered on. In fact, even Venson-Moitoi can attest to this, especially reflecting on the warm reception she received in her recent visit to Zimbabwe where she is quoted by The Herald saying, “I thought it was proper that before we go to Kigali, I must come and brief the President (Mugabe) about the progress we have made so far on the campaign. To give him the necessary honour as the senior statesman in the region because I am their candidate. To tell him how we have been campaigning and where we need assistance and what kind of advice he may wish to give us because they are older in politics and they know what we should do. I don’t want to be embarrassing anyone when I am doing the campaign.”

But while Venson-Moitoi thinks Mugabe still has a worthwhile advice to offer, her superior thinks to the contrary. Khama thinks Mugabe is a “burden” to the region and without doubt he should have long left. This puts Venson-Moitoi in a dilemma and effectively renders her already slim chances for AU Chair non-existent. This is just one of the many own-goals Khama has been ‘brilliantly’ scoring against Botswana, the country he purports to love more than anyone else. Generally, Mugabe has been taking Khama to be just that narcissist kid who always fights others for grandpa’s attention, but judging from a barrage of insulting commentary from that side, I am afraid Khama may have just gone a step too far.

Jonathan Moyo, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Higher Education, has seized on the moment to write, “The Khamas of this world and their hopeless lot must be told in no uncertain terms to go hang.” As if that was not hurting enough, The Herald’s political editor, Tichaona Zindoga wrote, “He is just a megalomaniac with delusions of grandeur born out of misplaced international plaudits.” He goes on to say, “The narcissistic little autocrat Khama should just shut up.” The question still begs, why did Khama not share his sentiments with Mugabe almost a fortnight ago while attending the inauguration of President Edgar Lungu in Lusaka? Mind you, they were the only two presidents attending the event.

Published in News
Tuesday, 12 July 2016 17:04

Video conferencing essential in schools

Video conferencing has been an integral part of our business world for the better part of two decades. We are finally seeing high-definition video being adopted in scale by organisations and delivering very strong return on investment performance and productivity gains.

In Botswana the availability of high quality bandwidth at an affordable price through the likes of Bofinet is a major factor in adoption of high definition video conferencing together with the drop in pricing of the Video Conferencing equipment. Video has also played an important role in higher education, particularly in the university sector – but we haven’t seen it widely used in primary and secondary education networks until quite recently.

This past weekend at the WITD event at Thamaga Dimension Data Botswana demonstrated a Video Conferencing solution pilot that would be carried out in a number of schools in Southern Botswana before it is expanded to the rest of the country if successful. The solution is such that several schools are connected simultaneously via video and tutoring lessons delivered to pupils from a single point thus making it very cost effective while exposing the learners to the benefits of technology.

Declining pass rates in secondary schools country wide and in particular the subjects of Mathematics, Science and English created the platform to pilot the advantages of video conferencing technology as a teaching tool. The technology is used to complement the class room teacher based teachings and foster a learning community for students who would typically require additional tutoring in the subjects mentioned above.

Video conferencing will be a fantastic form of professional development for staff and an ideal way for students to interact with their peers attempting the same course from other schools. The connected schools will give the students a chance not only to compare themselves with students from other schools but also an opportunity to form working friendships and to help and support each other.  The technology will enable the students to develop a support network with other schools in the region/nationally and may make the students more competitive.

The video conferencing technology will offer teachers the ability to learn other techniques of teaching and the ability to experiment using new technologies such as using the camera on a whiteboard or using PowerPoint presentations. 
Dimension Data is very enthusiastic about the future use of the technology. I think it is a powerful resource that should be utilised among schools to enable students to interact with others from different schools, enable students to experience other teaching methods from various teachers, and also for teachers themselves to learn from other teachers.

The video conferencing enables this to happen very easily!!!PS: The Video Conferencing solution to the schools, dubbed Dimension Data Saturday School E-Learning programme internally, is part of the Dimension Data Heads, Heart and Hands (CSI) program and is offered at no cost to the schools. *Duncan Pie is the Managing Director at Dimension Data Botswana/Zambia.

Published in News
Friday, 04 October 2013 12:11

Botswana hosts Innovation Africa summit

A few years ago the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) caused a stir after a statement that in 25 years, Africa “will be empty of brains”.

This was in reference to the continued migration of skilled workers, and the exodus of African men and women with innovative ideas and skills, to other continents mainly Europe and America, in search of greener pastures and environments that allow them to thrive. Although data is inconsistent, skilled human capital has steadily been trickling out of the country over the years. The ECA estimates that between 1960 and 1989, 127 00 qualified professionals left Africa. A further estimated 20 000 leave the continent annually since 1990. To date, there are almost 300 000 professionals living outside Africa.

This has brought insurmountable challenges to the continent. About 35 percent of Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Africa is spent on expatriate professionals. This has surfaced fears that emigration of Africans stifles development. The role of the African Diaspora in the continent’s capacity building efforts to assume a more active role in Africa’s development has been confirmed by a study carried out by Canada’s Association for Higher Education and Development (AHEaD). It explored the potential of virtual participation to facilitate an effective and sustained Diaspora commitment to the continent’s development. The study concluded that virtual participation has potential to channel untapped intellectual and material input from the African Diaspora.

These are largely non-political, nonprofit virtual linkages to Africa’s development, and facilitate capacity building and skills transfer. Emigration and the outflow of skills and widening gap in science and technology between Africa and other continents have worked against developmental efforts. Africa’s global scientific output fell from 0.5percent in the 1980s, to 0.3percent in the 1990s. This was blamed on depleting human resource and institutional capacity. However, Africa is proving that it’s not a mere charity case, with different organisations and think tanks spearheading initiatives and summits aimed at improving innovation and development in the continent. Africa is now testing ground for breakthrough ideas, innovations and high-tech products.

For example, Africa is pitted as home to the fastest growing mobile phone market. African Brains is one of the organisations tapping into potential, and facilitate platforms for entrepreneurs, multinationals and educators. The Innovation Africa summit slated for October in Gaborone is part of the Brains Network initiative and will be hosted under the patronage of the Ministry of Education and Skills development. According to Matt Troplis, the creative director of Brains Network, Innovation Africa will bring government officials and ministers under one roof for networking sessions and one-on-one meetings with industry leaders and networking sessions. “There will be 35 hosted roundtables. All the delegates will have access to online scheduling in order to choose their preferred meetings. The format will be in question and answer panel discussions and will focus on ICT for education, curriculum development, rural development, special needs and community access; African digital content, libraries and learning resources, technology, innovation hubs, digital media and knowledge economy.”

The purpose of the summit is to connect civil society and government, and expand on opportunities for public partnerships in science, education and research initiatives in Sub-Saharan Africa. This is an effort to ensure that education matches the requirements of industries and labour markets. The managing director of AfricanBrains John Glassey has pointed out that as well as being a regional significance to the continent, the summit will demonstrate Botswana’s capability to host events of such immense magnitude. “The Botswana Ministry of Education and Skills development has pitted itself as a notable leader in attracting and determining public-private sector partnerships.” He further pointed out that the establishment of the Education Hub, as well as the Innovation Hub combined with the recently established technology park, confirms interest in advancing vocational development; which could attract international skills and development.

The previous summits were hosted in Ammam, Jordan, Cape Town, South Africa and Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Last year it attracted over 50 ministers, their deputies and over 200 government officials from nine African countries. The opening speech for the summit will be delivered by the Minister of Education and Skills development Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi.

Published in News
Friday, 22 March 2013 16:52

UB ranked 19th in Africa

The University of Botswana has been ranked number 19 among the 100 accredited colleges and universities in Africa.Known as the four International Colleges & Universities, the organisation is an international higher education search engine and directory reviewing accredited Universities and Colleges in the world and includes 11,160 colleges and universities in 200 countries. It ranks by web popularity.

The report, which has been published since 2005, was released last month. It is intended to help international students and academic staff to understand how popular a specific university or college is in a foreign country. Out of the 17 078 students enrolled at UB for the 2011/2012 academic year, 405 come from other SADC countries while 505 are from the rest of the world. Commenting on the development, UB spokesperson Mhitshane Reetsang said the ranking shows that the institution remains borderless.

She revealed that by 2016, ten percent of the student population would be foreigners. With the existence of private colleges and universities, speculation is rife that the UB is losing its place in the tertiary education industry. The public perception is that the mushrooming of these schools poses a threat to the UB. However, Reetsang is adamant that in its 30 years’ existence, UB has a solid foundation. “We know our position and why we exist,” she says.

“We are not a vocational institution and our students fit in all sectors of the economy.” She is also aware of the perception that UB is slowly becoming a second thought for students. But she maintains that the UB is a tried and tested institution, which attracts nothing but the crème of the nation. In fact the presence of other tertiary institutions is an indication that the whole nation cannot be academic. “If it is competition, it is positive and useful because serving the interest of the nation makes us to come off our comfort zone,” she says.

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