Of all the misfortune that could be visited upon Gaborone North MP, Haskins Nkaigwa, being a student at the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology would have been the worst imaginable.
Nkaigwa was on the floor discussing the 2017/18 budget allocation to the Ministry of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology when he felt the need to tell his colleagues how lucky he is to have gone to the University of Botswana (UB).
“We are so proud of that university and I feel very proud to be a graduate of that university rather than having studied at Limkokwing. That could have really broken my heart,” said Nkaigwa who graduated from UB in 2001 with a bachelor degree in business administration.
He was reacting to a question-comment by the Gaborone Central MP, Dr. Phenyo Butale, who sought clarification on whether as a public university, UB should be treated like private tertiary education institutions “that are in business.” The two MPs were echoing sentiments held by some that private tertiary education institutions are deemed to be providing substandard education and being handsomely rewarded for it by the government. Although he used a different set of words, UB’s former Vice Chancellor, Professor Thabo Fako, has said the same thing. These institutions are once more in the news after it was revealed that some of them offer programmes that have not been accredited by the Botswana Qualifications Authority (BQA). The explanation from a manager at one institution was that while on programme they offered had not been BQA-accredited, it had been approved – which is a different calculation altogether.
Nkaigwa lamented the plight of graduates of institutions like Limkokwing, the Gaborone Universal College of Law and the Gaborone Institute of Professional Studies “who roam the streets with nothing to do.” He posed: “Can you employ someone whose CV states that they studied at GUC? No, you cannot employ them, you would rather employ someone from the University of Botswana.”
Nkaigwa’s discomfort about Limkokwing extends to its back-channel relations with the powers-that-be. He said that in 2006 ÔÇô a year before Limkokwing was established – Ba Isago University College tried in vain to get the government to sponsor private students.
“However, when Limkokwing University arrived in Botswana, they were given students under the government sponsorship even before they could have an office or just temporary classrooms. I just want your ministry to investigate why it looks like some schools are given special preference or treatment over other schools,” the MP said directing his comments at the Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, Dr. Alfred Madigele.