The Ministry of Education has recently announced that it intends to select students that perform well at Secondary School level and favour them with generous scholarships to the best colleges and universities across the globe.
This is a very commendable move on the part of government.
In fact, in the past, our sister publication The Sunday Standard, has called on Government to consider taking deliberate steps to creating a pool of talented young Batswana who would in future become leaders in such areas like business, commerce, industry, politics, law, arts, architecture and the like.
We think that what the Ministry of Education is doing is just that.
It is a step in the right direction.
At the moment Botswana has a shocking leadership deficit ÔÇô across the spectrum.
The situation will get worse with time.
Over the years, Government, to its credit, spent a lot of resources training many young Batswana at the best universities and colleges across the world. It is these Batswana who are today providing the human resource capital that is necessary to see the country out of the difficult economic times we are going through as a nation.
But as financial resources became thin on the side of government, a gap was created when the nation reduced the number of students it could train at the world’s best colleges abroad.
That gap will catch up with us in the near future.
In short a decision taken a few years ago to educate almost all students locally will come to haunt us.
While the decision made economic sense in every way, the tragedy has been that as the number of the national student intake grew, standards were on the other hand allowed to fall.
The deficit is dire in specialized areas like business and science.
In the area of business, for example, as a result of the deficit as a country we have been forced to rotate the same people ÔÇô no more than ten in all ÔÇô among the executive positions in the country’s flagship corporate entities.
Very little has been done over the years to nurture young talent who will be able to fill the boots of the older generation.
Whatever crop of leaders we have been able to produce, it is often very clear that a good number of them are not sufficiently equipped technically, that is to shoulder the growing challenges that come as a part of leadership in the increasingly complex business environment of today’s world.
Going forward, quality education will be instrumental.
Many of our young graduates are simply unemployable.
The blame does not exclusively belong to these young graduates.
While many of them are trainable, it is worth noting that standards in our colleges and universities have recently plummeted.
The Tertiary Education Council says they are doing something about it. But it will take time.
Dealing with a generational gap in quality will no doubt come to haunt the entire country in the near future.
Which is why we think it is proper for government to send the country’s cream to such world class universities like Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard and Princeton ÔÇô resources allowing, to avert the tragedy, if it is not too late, that is.
These are the same people on whose shoulders will in the near future rest the onerous task of assuming leadership positions in all the necessary disciplines.
The only advice we can give is that in training these people academically, it should also form a part of the scholarship that the beneficiaries are imbued from an early age at college level to appreciate the importance of leadership.
The scholarships should be a platform that will produce a well rounded individual with a value system that makes him aware of the importance of uplifting their own people and nation.