Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Botswana chances of achieving MDG targets doubtful

Revelations by the World Economic Forum (WEF) World Competitiveness Report 2010-11 for Botswana and Sub Saharan Africa that the quality of Botswana’s human resource base is far from satisfactory has raised fears that the country’s national vision and, therefore, the millennium development goals target may remain a pipe dream.

To make matters worse, the report decried what it referred to as primary weaknesses related to the country’s human resource base, which in turn may sound out alarm bells in terms of the future outlook of the national economy in general.

Part of the report, which came out just weeks before the September 22 2010 UN Summit, which discussed the MDGs, highlighted that, although Botswana falls to 76th place, it remained one of the four most competitive economies in the region.

Notwithstanding the observation, the WEF World Competitiveness Report 2010-2011, stated, “Educational enrolment rates at all levels remain low by international standards (ranked 111th, 88th, and 114th for primary, secondary, and tertiary enrolment, respectively), and the quality of the educational system receives mediocre marks.”

This has prompted the Trainers and Allied Workers Union (TAWU) to present a proposal to the Office of the President and the Ministry of Education and Skills Development, proposing a review of the existing structures of the ministry.

The proposal included dividing the ministry into two to offload the present system for effectiveness and efficiency.

Similar concerns have been raised in the past by the Chairperson of the Vision 2016 Council, Dr. Collie Monkge, who held that unless drastic reforms are visited upon the country’s education system, it would not be possible to meet the MDG relating to universal access to education by 2015.

“The fact that we still have vast areas in the south western part of the country and parts of Kweneng that depend entirely on rations, and the pass rate is worrisomely low, means that we still have a long way to go in terms of meeting the 2016 vision goals, and obviously the UN MDG targets,” said Monkge.

In the same vein, the report expressed concern that the health situation was by far the biggest obstacle facing Botswana in efforts to improve its competitiveness.

“The rates of diseases in Botswana remain very high (the rates of HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis are ranked 110th, 100th, and 135th, respectively), although on a positive note these rates are for the most part coming down,” read part of the report.

Improvement was thus urged on the health and education levels of the workforce as the key priorities for enabling Botswana’s competitiveness.

The Survey also notes a notable decline in the macro-economic environment, which may be attributed in large part to the effects of the economic downturn.

On another plane, Africa has reportedly experienced impressive growth over the past decade, and has weathered the recent global economic turmoil relatively well. Indeed, coming out of the crisis, the IMF predicts GDP growth of 4.7 percent in 2010 and well above 5 percent for the next few years for sub-Saharan Africa.

Yet an assessment of the competitiveness of African economies raises questions about how sustainable this growth will be over the longer term and highlights areas in need of urgent attention to allow Africa to achieve its full economic potential.

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