As part of its effort to thwart the growing competition from other institutions of higher learning in the country, the Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) is going a step further by targeting students in secondary and primary schools.
One of the reforms that have been adopted by the university is the Pre-University Programs which is directed at strengthening a pipeline of Mathematics and Science students from pre tertiary level of education in Botswana to tertiary institutions, particularly to BIUST.
The initiative is also part of BIUST’s attempt to respond positively to challenges posed by lack of interest in Science and Maths by students in the country.
The programme is similar to the Botswana National Sports Council┬á(BNSC) youth program dubbed Re Ba Bona Ha which targets children participating in various sports codes and helps children learn and master their respective sports codes techniques from an earlier age.
Responding to questions during a press briefing, Pre University Programs Director Dr Haniso Motlhabane acknowledged that currently the competition for students with other institutions such as University of Botswana (UB) Botswana Agriculture College (BCA) is minimal.
But he was quick to point out that competition is expected to intensify in the long run as institutions grow.
“We are small for now and there isn’t much competition; but there might be a strong competition in the long run,” he said.
BIUST is collaborating with Australian National University (ANU)’s Centre for Public Awareness of Science in dealing with what it calls a longstanding Maths and Science performance problem in pre-tertiary public education in Botswana.
Motlhabane said the pre-university academic programme was motivated by the reality of scarce number of students with interest in Mathematics and Science to be able to take up the Science and Technology programmes that would transform Botswana into a knowledge economy with it aspires to be.
Motlhabane explained that through the collaborative relationship, workshops for Mathematics and Science Teachers, Primary and Secondary schools and trainers sponsored by BUIST and CPAS will be held intermittently between the 21st May and 5th June 2015 in Gaborone, Palapye and Francistown .
“BIUST in partnership with CPAS are collaborating to deliver a dynamic hands-on travelling science exhibition to students, teachers and communities. The thrust will be use of low-cost very effective teaching aids,” said Motlhabane.
He said there would be a broad range of activities and programmes such as visitation by school children to the BIUST Learning Arena (science parks/centres, research centres.) BIUST also intends to develop Maths and Science support chain linking primary schools, secondary schools and the BIUST (feeder chains); mentoring of elementary, primary and secondary school students enrolled in the BUIST programme.
The University also plans to ascertain Maths and Science gaps between university standards and those pertaining in high schools with a view to developing programmes that would continually bridge the gaps while students are still in their schools to obviate the need for preparatory year.
When asked if BIUST was not repeating courses or academic programmes offered by established institutions, Motlhabane said “Science and Technology is a wide field, it is so big that you can never exhaust it. The extent to which those institutions can cover depth is limited.”