The Botswana Institute of Administration and Commerce is undergoing transformation to become a Civil Service College. This, among other things, includes the phasing out of at least sixteen long courses which were previously offered by the institute. Information passed to Sunday Standard by impeccable sources revealed that for some reason, authorities have decided that the goings on at the institute remain a guarded secret.
Taboka Nkhwa, Deputy Director at the Directorate of Public Service Management, responded to the Sunday Standard thus, “Indeed, plans are on going to restore the institute back to its original objective of serving as a capacity building centre for the civil service.”
Nkhwa went on to elaborate on the historical background of the college, dating as far back as 1962, when it was established and christened the Botswana Trade School through 1966 when it was turned into the Botswana Training Centre, including 1980 when it became the BIAC that it is now, from which level it is now set to “evolve” into a high level and middle management training college.
However, Nkhwa feigned ignorance of any courses being phased out. She said, as far as she is aware, they are still at the point of determining what is required to run the college and, in that regard, they have already started some pilot short term courses on Financial Management for non-finance managers, since the past 5 months.
Nkhwa’s denial notwithstanding, Sunday Standard is in possession of a savingram signed by the school principal, dated 29 February 2008 and addressed to Training Coordinators of all the departments and Ministries.
The Savingram reads in part, “Addressees are, therefore, informed that Government has (as part of this transformation exercise) decided to retain and continue offering only six courses for the next two years (i.e. August 2008-May 2009, and August 2009 to May 2010).”
The savingram further advised the coordinators, “to submit prioritized lists of the names of serving officers on their training plans, who meet the attached respective requirements.” In addition the addressees are informed that the intake is 50 participants per course (25 per class). Furthermore, information passed to Sunday Standard by inside sources at the Government enclave in the form of a report titled ‘BIAC transformation progress report’ dated May,2008 item 1.1.2 confirms Sunday Standard assertion that long courses have already been phased out.
The report reads in part, “Currently BIAC has 25 certificate and diploma courses. Out of 25, 19 certificate and diploma courses are also offered by other training and development institutions and therefore a decision to faze them out has been taken.” The report then goes on to enumerate which ones are set to remain and those that are intended to go.
Regarding fears for retrenchment by the current staff of the college, including the lecturers, the DPSM officials maintained that there is no cause for alarm at the stage as they are awaiting feedback from the committees on the ground who are tasked to determine all the appropriate issues both with the ramifications of whatever decisions might have to be taken in respect of the transformation process.
Dr Omponye Kereteletswe, Public Service reforms Coordinator in the Office of the President had this to say, “If in the context of rationalization it becomes apparent that the courses currently on offer at the college are already available from the private sector why compete with them?”
Kereteletswe added that the essence of the on-going reform process requires that people appreciate that Government should not necessarily be viewed as the creator of employment opportunities, than more from point of view of productive and quality service delivery.