Jewellery design and manufacturing was a deliberate step taken by government to diversify the economy and develop the diamond industry beyond mining. Although this sector is still in the early developmental stage, an opportunity to grow the sector has come up through an agreement among Oodi College of Applied Arts and Technology (OCAAT), BJO Formation and the Women Entrepreneurship Development (WED) Programme. The agreement adopted a practical, small scale but high impact approach which is expected to harness capacity and skills transfer in jewellery production. The project will be divided into two stages, the first involving a student exchange and the second a lecturer exchange.
OCAAT was established in 2012 and the vocational certificate level training on jewellery and manufacture was launched in 2014. BJO Formation, founded in 1972, is a French professional training centre located in Paris with extensive and rich expertise in jewellery crafts and knowledge. It provides training in artistic and technical drawing, stone setting, polishing and engraving to mention but a few. WED is run by the Centre for the development of Enterprise (CDE) as part of the Private Sector Development Programme (PSDP), an initiative of the Government of Botswana, represented by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) and the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), in partnership with the European Union (EU). It focuses on leather, fashion and design, jewellery and accessories sectors among others.
Explaining the details of the project to Sunday Standard Sid Boubekeur, CDE’s Head of Regional Office for Southern Africa highlighted that two out of 15 students in OCAAT were selected to take part in training which will between November and June 2016 with the potential of extension. “The project is linked to education, capacity building and opportunity to launch own business,” he says.
The training is anticipated to spark ideas and give students hands-on experience as well as an opportunity to benchmark from other countries. Regarding the number of students chosen for the exchange programme, Boubekeur emphasized that it will enable effective evaluation and provide impactful experience. The project will be monitored so as to measure its progress and identify issues from which recommendations will be made, if necessary, to improve how the activities are carried out. The exchange is therefore anticipated to grow in scale given the results of the project. He added that the options available to the students following project completion are finding a job within the local Jewellery industry, starting own business, teaching the Jewellery crafts and possible likelihood to extend the experience in Paris.
OCAAT Principal Maggie Khumalo firmly approves of the project and says she is already seeing the end result as reflected by the confidence and eagerness demonstrated by the students. She highlighted that the students have been given the opportunity to show what Botswana can do in terms of jewellery design despite being in the infancy stage.“Our wish with the partnership is that the lecturers will be capacitated to continue transferring skills to students, students too will be inspired to start their own businesses,” she said. She mentioned that entrepreneurial up-skilling is among key skills that are incorporated in the various programmes offered by OCAAT including Jewelry design and manufacture. The only identified gap under the Jewelry programme is that the current lecturers were not engaged on a permanent basis and their anticipated departure is likely to cause a gaping hole if OCAAT does not fill their spaces. “Preparations are ongoing to fill the lecturers’ spaces so as to prevent a blackout,” assured Khumalo adding that should a delay be experienced the lecturers will be requested to extend until the recruitment process is complete. One of the challenges regarding the recruiting process is the dire lack of qualified Batswana lecturers. The current lecturers consist of two Germans, one Sri Lankan and one Motswana.
The Ambassador of France to Botswana Anne de la Blache underlined that the project falls under the established technical partnership with the Government of Botswana, represented by the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation whose intention is to develop and boost the talent and skills of young people.