The much anticipated Botswana International University of Science and Technology is scheduled to become a reality with its first intake in 2011.
The University is constructed on a 2500 hectares which the founding Vice Chancellor, Kweku Bentil, said the owners of the land were compensated.
BIUST Communications and Public Affairs director, Shakes Kebaswele, in his welcome remarks said they have undergone challenges, which turned out to be stepping stones to progress.
He said that people should not be mistaken that the university is for Palapye residents only.
“Every Motswana is entitled to it and should take pride in promoting it as a national university,” he said.
Kebaswele said the press briefing was meant to allow the vice chancellor to update on progress of the university and for the owners to seek clarification on a number of issues.
Addressing journalists at Palapye, Bentil said they were working behind schedule. He said the university is being built in two phases. Phase 1 project, which is budgeted for P429 million, is scheduled to be completed after 18 months.
This phase includes the library, auditorium, administration, academic block, and both junior and senior staff houses, which are already under construction. China civil is the main contractor working with Motherwell contractors. There will be 18 junior staff houses, 35 senior staff houses and 256 residents for students, all of which will be completed late 2010 or early 2011.
BIUST is striving to produce students who are ready to hit the industry. “Our board members are leaders and managers of each field who are familiar and experienced with the field,” said Bentil.
Bentil further said they are engaged now even when the university is not yet up and running.
“We are looking at worldwide recruitment of professors and also looking for students locally and in SADC countries,” he said.
He said that they are involved with secondary school teachers and students.
“We intend to cultivate students who have a tendency to fear mathematics and science into technicians and engineers.”
Bentil said they will be engaged on international exchange programmes which he said he believes is the right recipe of learning. However, he told the media that for security reasons, all international students will be screened before being admitted in the university.
Bentil mentioned several countries they are in partnership with, (some universities in Canada, USA, Japan) which are all not in Africa, except NFTRC in Kanye for research purposes.
“Partnerships have to be meaningful, and both partners have to benefit from this partnership,” he said.
Bentil also said they have catered for disabled people with facilities from hostels, around the school and in classrooms.
Despite the development of the first ever specialist university, there are challenges he said they are facing. One major challenge, he said, is to attract professors to Palapye.
“They see Palapye with a different lens than I do, and I am looking at Palapye 15 years from now.”
Since the university lies away from the village, he said that they face challenges of finding a social structure to support these people when not at work and also schools and hospitals to cater for their children.