Botswana’s Tertiary Education Council (TEC) is gearing up to make the country internationally competitive by aligning its education system to the challenges of the workplace.
The TEC move is in line with the current global trends which believe that people are the most important assets which every nation need in order to create wealth.
“The Tertiary Education Council Strategic Plan (2005-9) argues that this understanding needs to be enhanced by the following high value terms:ÔÇô creativity, resourcefulness, education, innovation, entrepreneurship, quality, global competitiveness, hardwork and commitment.
“Such a dynamic development of a robust educational system propelling Botswana to be internationally competitive, dictates that its tertiary education sector must be distinguished from its comparators and competitors through a focus on quality,” the TEC has said.
According to TEC consultation paper, a tertiary education policy is a critical component of economic growth and that robustness of the tertiary education system reflects a nation’s ability to compete regionally and globally.
“It is knowledge, skills and rather ideas, than commodities and minerals that are determinants of economic success and tertiary education must therefore be considered as key determinants of economic success,” it said.
The move is based on the understanding that knowledge, knowledgeable workers coupled with the right prices rather than physical capital, natural resources and traditional labour skills are the essentials for a nation’s economic development. This is made more important in today’s globalised world where movement of capital is at the touch of a button.
That means, among other things, the country has to develop its communication structure to the world standard for it to attract foreign direct investment.
The papers say, given the challenges of today’s world institutions should actively be involved in issues of knowledge management that could be achieved through highly skilled and educated personnel.
The key characteristics of this new highly educated labour force are that they be equipped with specialist knowledge, independent in thought, self-directed, globally-marketable and mobile, and possess the following critical skills ÔÇô communication, computation, critical thinking, co-operation, creativity and computer literacy.
The TEC policy documents conceptualize knowledge development to be increasingly at the heart of the modern economic enterprise, based on the ability to control and direct its creation, production, dissemination and application proving to be the key determinants of success and prosperity.
Similarly, globalization has also led to a broadening of the role of tertiary education policy to embrace economic growth, the promotion of the knowledge economy, internationalization and trade. In addition, it has encouraged tertiary education to be more and more business like, more market oriented and more entrepreneurial. New funding mechanisms, new forms of governance and management, massification by expanding access, new modes of planning, performance evaluation and quality improvement have been developed.
They say there is an increasing need for a tertiary education system that can support the economic and social goals of Vision 2016 and which is strongly engaged with and provides Batswana with the skills and knowledge to prosper and contribute to the global community.
“For this grand goal to be achieved, the tertiary education system needs to be strengthened in terms of strategic direction, management and coordination, cohesiveness,” it said.
“Tertiary education institutions have been constrained by the absence of a national Human Resources Development Strategy, which would have set out the broad macro-level human resources goals for the country, as well as the Tertiary Education Policy, which would have provided guidance as to how tertiary education should meet those goals. In general, tertiary education institutions have been slow to respond to changes in the labour market, have been poor in terms of establishing linkages with the market, and have not responded sufficiently, in terms of curricula adaptation and quality improvement, to improve the employability of their graduates,” it added.