Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Red tape frustrates road training centre transition

In 2013, cabinet decided to transfer Maruapula Roads Training Centre (RTI) from the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MTC) to that of tertiary education. 

Today, the transition has not been completed, with no mention of a definitive date of completion. 

This was laid bare by the Member of Parliament (MP) for Gaborone Central, Tumisang Healy’s question to Transport Minister Thulagano Segokgo. 

“The RTC in Maruapula, Gaborone Central has proposed to be moved from the Department of Roads to the Ministry of Tertiary Education. But I believe the approval by cabinet happened nine years ago, but as we speak roads training institute is still under your ministry. What are the plans in terms of action since currently, the staff at the RTC are practically lying idle because students come in few numbers, and the school is not being capacitated with the necessary equipment for it to fully function as a roads training centre,” Healy asked? 

The Gaborone Central MP said that, essentially, stakeholders are caught between the two ministries, and as such, it looks like nobody is responsible for the training institution. Healy also wanted to know the extent to which key stakeholders such as students, staff and parents are informed or updated on the progress of the transition.

In response, Minister Segokgo said, “the Tertiary Education Policy provides for the rationalisation and the transfer of tertiary education and training institutions to one portfolio ministry responsible for education and skills development.” 

He added that this is to address the fragmentation and inconsistencies in the policies and strategies used for supervising education and training by different ministries. 

“To that end, my ministry is in the process of transferring roads training centre to the Ministry of Tertiary Education, Research Science and Technology (MTRST). The process is done in conjunction with the Directorate of Public Service Management as the employer, the MTRST and the relevant public service unions representing employees,” Segokgo said. 

Approval for the transfer of the training centre was granted by the cabinet in 2013, through a presidential directive, CAP 27/ 13, to the then Ministry of Tertiary Education and Skills Development. 

The transport minister said, though delayed, the transition is ongoing. Explaining the reason for the transition’s tardiness, Segokgo said: “Following the issuance of the presidential CAP directive, my ministry and its stakeholders erroneously commenced consultations to transfer the institution to the Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST).” However, the process was halted, as it was not per the approval granted by the cabinet. “This, therefore, necessitated the undertaking of fresh consultations with all parties concerned,” the minister continued. 

Regrettably, consultations took longer than expected, but Segokgo said he is hopeful that the process will be concluded soon, with the most recent engagement of stakeholders being on the 13th of April 2021. 

“This has since been the cause of the delay. There was a failure to reach a consensus with the stakeholders who felt that when they were properly advised to what the cabinet decision had been. That it was actually a misinterpretation and that they should be transferred to BIUST,” said Segokgo. 

The idle facility has been suspended from admitting new students since 2019 pending accreditation. The government had decided in 2013 to transfer RTC to BIUST so it could be accredited to offer courses to students. 

Healy, in a supplementary, questioned Segokgo if he is aware that because of the delay, the school has been suspended from taking students until accreditation has been sorted because the centre is not currently accredited. 

Odd enough, the Minister said he was not aware of the halt on student admission. The facility, a white elephant with the capacity of 200 students, is now idle, pending completion of the transfer from the roads department. Minister Segokgo said his Permanent Secretary will be the one leading the transition.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper