The Botswana Congress Party continues to monitor with keen interest the developments at the Ministry of Education and, in particular, government’s decision to restrict access to tertiary education. We issued a statement on the 20th April, 2009 condemning the announcement by the Ministry of Education that it will sponsor students who have obtained 40 points and above. We further denounced the decision by government to deny students who have gained admission to Private Tertiary institutions sponsorship.
The BCP Executive Committee met on the 23rd April, 2009 to further assess the implications of decisions of government on our education system. Our view as a party is that the decisions of the Ministry of Education will have a catastrophic effect on the future of this country and it shall obliterate the dreams and aspirations of many young people and their families. We view the decision by government and the Ministry of Education as a colossal blunder and one that is oblivious of the centrality of education in the modern competitive global environment.
To disinvest in education as the BDP government is progressively doing, is the surest way of disinvesting in the future of the country and its people. The BCP Executive would like to reiterate its unequivocal rejection of the announcement by government to sponsor only about 4 000 students in public institutions. We demand that the government reverse its decision forthwith and unconditionally restore the status quo. The cut off point for admission to tertiary institutions should be left at 36 and, further, government must sponsor students in all TEC approved tertiary institutions.
The BCP is informed that the Vice-President, Minister of Finance and Development Planning and the Minister of Education and Skills Development will address a press conference soon to explain and possibly justify the cutbacks in the education sector. The BCP Executive is of the opinion that there is no justifiable basis for restricting access to tertiary education in Botswana at this point and, as such, any attempt at that should be dismissed by all patriotic citizens- young and old, rich or poor.
We in the BCP await the press conference by the VP and his team and we wish to state categorically that we shall accept nothing less than a reversal of the decision to exclude thousands of young persons from obtaining higher education in Botswana. Government must own up to its blunders and make an unqualified retraction of its announcement. The whole nation awaits the Press Conference of the VP and his team in anticipation and hope that reason will finally prevail and thousands of young people will get sponsorship and support from the government to pursue their dreams.
The BCP Executive would like to advise the current administration that arrogance and intransigence does not build a nation.
Decisions that have far reaching implications for the future of our country cannot be taken at spur of the moment or on the altar of egos of a few powerful individuals. There is need for genuine consultation with all concerned. This decision to curtail access to higher education has been taken without consultation with the critical stakeholders and the result is that everyone has been thrown into a state of confusion and panic. Parents, private and public institutions as well as students themselves have been caused considerable anguish and inconvenience by this decision and yet the government is not bothered. This is not right!
Once again, the BCP is calling for a reversal of the decision by the Ministry of Education and Skills Development on sponsorship of students to tertiary institutions.
The BCP will convene an emergency meeting soon after the VP Press Conference and map the way forward on the issue.
BCP Secretary General