Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Parliament debates two Bills that could transform education

Parliament is debating two Bills that will turn the new Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) and the Botswana Qualifications Authority (BQA) into statutory bodies and transform Botswana’s education sector.

On July 23, the National Assembly went through the first reading of the Human Resource Development Council Bill and the Botswana Qualifications Authority Bill.

This follows cabinet approval in January 2009 of a National Human Resource Development Strategy that would eliminate the current problem of duplication of roles between the Tertiary Education Council (TEC) and the Botswana Training Authority (BOTA).

“We identified flaws in the TEC and BOTA,” Dr Patrick Molusi, Executive Secretary of the TEC, told a stakeholders meeting in Gaborone.

“With this change, we hold great expectation for the country to transform from a mineral led economy,” Dr Molutsi said.

Government has dealt with the problem of more than one ministry overseeing TEC and BOTA by handing the Ministry of Education and Skills Development sole accountability for human resource development.

Government will dissolve the TEC by repealing the Tertiary Education Act of 1999 and scrap BOTA by doing away with the Vocational Training Act of 1998. Meanwhile, the Botswana Education Council’s (BEC) mandate will extend through an amendment of the BEC Act.

Dr Molutsi said the HRDC and BQA would assume the roles of the defunct TEC and BOTA, with all employees from the scrapped institutions being taken on by the two new bodies.

The HRDC would take on the role of system level planning and funding, while BQA would deal with the national qualification system, Dr Molutsi said. This will bring on a quality assurance platform to allow BEC to perform a broader role for moderation and assessment, including technical vocation, education and training,” he said.

Dr Molutsi said the economy, education and employment as a whole had failed the country, bringing the need for a robust human resource development strategy to reconcile them.

On the one hand BOTA, BEC, and TEC were limited by their narrow mandate ÔÇô their focus on the sub-sector. On the other, with 39 institutions registered with TEC, and some 50,000 students in the system, there is the added problem of too many diploma courses, some irrelevant to key economic needs.

“So there are no new critical skills being added,” Dr Molutsi said. “We continue to train and train and forget about the needs of our economy.”

Without discounting the importance of humanities, education, and social sciences, he said there is glaring lack for engineering, paramedics and science courses. At the same time, Botswana is flush with job seekers holding foreign qualifications which have never been assessed to verify their credibility. Introduction of the HRDC and BQA would help to stem this, he said.

Dr Andrew Molwane of the BQA told the stakeholders meeting that there was an added problem of Botswana’s tertiary qualifications not being readily accepted abroad.

“Qualifications should be accepted globally, so that our learners are mobile,” he said. “We should move from the system where we expect government to absorb all learners.”

Meanwhile, as part of the system level reform to education, four additional Bills are being prepared and will go to parliament.

The first is the BEC Amendment Bill which will harmonise the BEC Act with the HRDC and BQA Bills.
The second is the Universities and Tertiary Education Institutions Bill, a new approach to tertiary education legislation with a single Act replacing the individual institutional Acts. Further, a Teachers Council Bill is being prepared to provide for the establishment of a Teachers Council to register teachers and regulate the teaching profession. 

And then an amendment to the Education Act is being prepared to make it reflect the changes that are taking place in the education and skills development system.

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