Thursday, March 4, 2021

BCA’s varsity transformation to enhance international appeal

The Assistant Minister of Agriculture (MOA) Oreeditse Molebatsi has said the transformation of the Botswana College of Agriculture (BCA) into a fully-fledged University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UANR) enhances its graduates status, international brand and appeal.

Making the long-awaited official announcement of BCA’s imminent University transformation to academics, farmers, students and other stakeholders braving the scotching morning heat at the campus on November14, Molebatsi assured Batswana that the ensuing international academic outlook guarantees the attraction, retention and appeal of international intellectual teaching staff, local and regional students, a challenge due to its discarded college status.

The Assistant Minister said: “BCA’s transformation from an Associate Institute of the University of Botswana (UB) to UANR opens the floodgates of a plethora of new academic and institutional independence opportunities enjoyed by Botswana’s counterpart Universities, such as the Senate, own governing structures, Chancellor and Vice Chancellorships, academic and support staff, to name but a few. The new University will enjoy easier access membership to the then off-limits academic networks like the African Universities Association (AUA), African Network of Scientific and Technological Institutions.

“When fully-fledged, UANR will use its own academic seal, qualifications, faculties offering demand-driven programmes in Agriculture and related disciplines in the value chain.”

According to Molebatsi, UANR’s annual enrollment will increase from the current 1, 010 to 5, 000; up to 17% by 2016 in line with the Tertiary Education Policy (TEP) Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER). Based on the vision 2016 pillar of “an informed and educated nation”, the University would also have complied by absorbing a sizeable chunk of the anticipated across-the-board tertiary education school leaver uptake.

MOA Permanent Secretary and BCA Governing Council Chairman Dr. Micus Chimbombi said the route to University status started with initial transformation in 1991 from a simple college to a contemporary BCA, under an Act of Parliament as a MOA parastatal. “I am proud to be associated with the formative stages, the transformation and hopefully the prestigious aftermath.”

BCA Dean, Faculty of Agriculture Professor Elenimo Khonga said the transformation provides global recognition for UANR; some international academics shunned joining teaching or research staff due to its college status. “Another denigrating factor was that over the years we offered certificate and diploma courses and even the enrolment of Bachelors and Masters of Science Degree programmes thereafter could not wash away college status stigmas.”

From the humble beginnings in 159 as the Mahalapye Agriculture Centre to the Botswana Agriculture College at Sebele in 1967, apart from its Diploma, BSC and MSC programmes, it has a Centre for In-Service and Continuing Education for extension training programmes. Currently, the College employs PhD and MSC staff supported by relevantly qualified support staff.

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