Botswana Wildlife Training Institute (BWTI) in Maun will start receiving its first intake of international students, come year 2014. This according to the Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism Dr Mmasera Manthe-Tsuaneng indicates a growing reputation of the institute in the entire region, as it will also award BWTI an opportune time for it to market itself outside the boarders.
A total of 59 trainees graduated at the institution this week, twenty two of them in Professional Tour Guiding, sixteen in Certificate in Wildlife Management, while twenty one got their Diplomas in Wildlife Management and Conservation. However quite a number of them could not make it to this memorable day as they are said have started work already. In her keynote address at the institution’s 31st graduation ceremony on Thursday, Manthe-Tsuaneng said BWTI has satisfied requisitions for registration for both the Botswana Training Authority (BOTA) and Tertiary Education Council (TEC) as is required and stated in the Tertiary Education Policy of 2008 and the National Human Resource Development strategy that all tertiary institutions, be it public or private, should pass through that phase, adding that this therefore means the courses and programmes offered there have also been registered and accredited.
She also noted that BWTI management and the student community should be given a pat on the back, taking into consideration the fact that besides running academic programmes, the institute has also lived up to its objectives of preaching wildlife conservation by way of hosting a number of forums, lectures and seminars on contemporary environmental issues, all of which are geared towards the hosting of the Botswana Wildlife Research Symposium scheduled for February 2014.
“We also need to be mindful of the fact that our government has identified Tourism and Wildlife as the two main areas which have massive opportunities in poverty alleviation in the country, economic empowerment and many others which have been of assistance in the changing of lives of Botswana citizens. It is also through tourism that communities have had the chance to obtain economic benefits from Wildlife and other natural resources. The Ministry places this institute at the forefront of the government drive to promote the tourism industry and wildlife conservation in the country as it has the potential to produce the much needed expertise of promoting these fields.
It is in this context that the ministry will position the institute as a National and International Centre of Excellence in wildlife and tourism technical training”, she said. Meanwhile the school Principal, Moemi Batshabang said besides the certificate and Diploma courses offered at BWTI, they also offered short courses, all of which had a significant impact on the day to day connections with the wildlife and Tourism industry in Botswana, such as the Induction and Basic Training which is a foundation course for recruited wildlife scouts to equip them with basic information on wildlife management and conservation as well as to allow them time to be in line with the operations of the department.
He said the Trophy Identification course is offered to wildlife officers so as to perfect their professional proficiency as expert witnesses in identifying confiscated wildlife exhibits in the courts of law in this time and era where the current levels of poaching have spiraled. As for the Professional Tour Guiding course, Batshabang said it exposes trainees to competencies geared towards enabling them to conduct or assist in carrying out tour guiding services for the purpose of visiting, viewing or photographing plants, animals or places of interest.
The course lasts for 19 weeks and is open to members of the public. “You need to understand that the Ministry has taken a deliberate decision to ensure that interested Community Based Organizations (CBO’s) are catered for in this institution, particularly those who desire to study Professional Tour Guiding. We have as a result seen it fit to respond to that call that is why we have amongst us here today, men and women from various CBO’s graduating on that field. This year alone, the institute received the majority of certificate candidates through mature entry criteria to improve access to education and skills enhancement, and we have learnt quite a lot from this group, which we will now use to assist similar groups in the future. I also wish to take this time to applaud all Government, Non Governmental and donor organizations for their incredible assistance in various ways which led BWTI to attaining this level of success during its years of operation.”, he said.