Thursday, 27 December 2012

Reality of Higher Education in Botswana

One of the most sparsely populated countries in the world, Botswana has a history of poor economic condition. Though it picked up the pace in the middle but in the current scenario, the country’s economy is again on the decline affecting another major sector namely the Education Field.

For the past few years, Botswana has repeatedly failed in establishing a tertiary education system due to lack of finances and human resource. But the recent tensions have imposed constraints and have affected the overall development of higher education.
Image Courtesy : tec.org.bw
Efforts have been made by the Tertiary Education Council or TEC for the promotion of higher education in the country since 2003 but so far no proper measures have been taken. The various economic, political and administrative issues have affected the growth of a proper education system in the country. 

The overall goal is to increase the tertiary education gross enrolment ratio from 11.4% in 2007-08 to at least 17% by 2016 – the 50th anniversary of independence – and to 25% by 2026.

Problems that are holding higher education back in Botswana:
  • Botswana is going through an economic recession as the country mainly depends on the sale of Diamonds which have deteriorated in the recent times.

  • Many of the students who are studying in South Africa has been asked to return as they cannot pay the stipend anymore, only the high achievers education costs are born by the state.

  • State Surveillance has led to the growth of a feeling that many fellow colleagues or students may be a part of the state’s intelligence service.

  • Moreover lack of financial help and human resources have delayed educational projects like the University of Botswana’s academic hospital dream. Even the star project BIUST is lagging behind and there are rumours of corruption surrounding it.
Contributions of the private sector:
  • Contributions from the private sector had a modest beginning some 15 years ago with contributions by NIIT in India which is now called Botho College with campuses in Gaborone, Maun and Francistown.

  • Both BA ISAGO University College and the Gaborone Institute of Professional Studies have spanned over 7 campuses having grown from a small institution.
  • Malaysia-based Limkokwing University of Creative Technology is the 4th institute whereas ABM University College has become the 5th one with now more than 12 private educational institutes.
Vision versus reality:
  • The peak in tertiary enrolments for private and public institutions combined was in 2008-09, when there were 47,889 students altogether. Of these 54.6% (26,130) were in public institutions, including 15,036 at the University of Botswana (58% of the public enrolment), with others in colleges of education, health science, agriculture and others, and the Botswana College of Distance and Open Learning. Since 2009, public institutions have experienced a small decline in enrolment of a few thousand students, while private institutions declined by 38% to 13,345 students in 2010-11. Last year, of 36,859 students, 35% were in private and 65% in public institutions.
  • The plan is to attract more private institutions to improve the tertiary education in the country. Several institutions, such as Monash University and Mancosa from South Africa have already started their operations and are offering 3 undergraduate courses and an MBA.

  • The ministry has thought of a ‘Back to School’ initiative so as to provide higher education for school teachers.

  • Moreover steps should be taken to recollect the loans as more than 120,000 students had their education sponsored by the state. Collection of the loan will improve the country financial condition to a certain level.