Monday, December 6, 2021

SADC student visa beckons

Botswana academics, researchers and students may benefit from a proposal by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) for a regional student visa. 

The proposal, which is part of a protocol on education and training, is contained in the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2020 – 2030.

“Interventions have included the treatment of SADC students as local students with respect to tuition, application, and examination fees in public universities in most Member States leading to a proposal to introduce a regional visa for students, academics, researchers, and scientists,” reads part of the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan 2020-2030.

Although all Member states have their own distinct education policies, SADC recognises the need to synchronise the policies for the good of the bloc and remove obstacles standing in the way of the movement of academics in the bloc.

Among other things, the protocol intends to introduce tax and customs exemptions in the region; establish of centres of specialisation; develop regional teacher standards and competencies; as well as promotion of technical and vocational entrepreneurship education and training through development of a TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training) Nomenclature Framework and Strategy.

A former teacher who spoke to this publication applauded the move and indicated that the regional visa is a positive move which will see more academics within the region able to move freely and thus spur and contribute to the movement of knowledge in the bloc.

“As things stand, students and academics incur a lot of costs when they try to immigrate to another country. If the plan to introduce the regional visa is successful, it would mean that the financial burden incurred by students and academics is drastically reduced,” says Mpho Botsane.

Furthermore, Botsane highlighted that this might be problematic in the long run as most students and academics are likely move to a few countries such as South Africa which has the best universities and educational institutions on the African continent.

Among other things, the SADC protocol states that the bloc is making strides in establishing the SADC Women in Science, Engineering, and Technology organisation and the SADC Qualifications Framework (SADCQF).

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