Botswana’s Tertiary Education Council (TEC) has taken a giant stride forward in the transformation of tertiary education by granting more than P300 000 to at least 15 tertiary institutions across the country, for purposes of promoting research in their respective specializations.
It is intended through the money to enhance the capacity of the institutions so that they can be more effective in delivering on their mandate.
According to TEC’ s Director of Policy and Planning, Dr Richard Neil, his organization believes that a deliberate effort at empowerment of staff in tertiary education institutions by developing their skills and competencies would enable them to undertake research, and ultimately know where and how to direct their remedial initiatives, in respect of the challenges they encounter.
However, an acknowledgement was made to the effect that although in all, 35 tertiary institutions had been urged to submit applications for consideration by the Council, only 15 were positively appraised, hence these grants.
“It emerged that most of the institutions were constrained in their capacity to produce sound proposals to convince us,” said Neill. He added that, that those institutions that have not been successful will, in the future be helped to produce winning proposals
Neil stated that, although each institution was to indicate how they arrived at their stipulated request, and was subjected to a common criteria, only one institute lost their on the basis of the amount they asked for as it was considered too high for the capacity of the Council.
Apparently, delegates from various institutions, which included, Colleges of Education, Institutes of Health Sciences as well the UB and Botswana College of Agriculture were constituted into research teams. They then elaborated before the TEC and colleagues on how they planned to go about their research, in the same manner as to impress fellow participants that they deserved grants or funding to pursue their stated line of research.
Strikingly, however, most of them weren’t really as impressive.
To mitigate this, Neill said, “There were three major aspects that informed our assessment.” These were; Relevance, Quality and Costs.
Dr Josiah Ajiboye, Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Education at the University of Botswana (UB), pointed out that it is very imperative that in any endeavor at Research, participants should recognize the need for both external and internal validation, as a way of ensuring the dependability of their findings.
In addition, Ajiboye highlighted the fact that the sample techniques must be seen to be truly representative of the entire population, and the need for validation of instruments of research.
Explaining the concepts of external and internal validation, he said, “External validity refers to the extent to which the findings of the study can be generalized to other settings not involved in the study.
Internal validity on the other hand means the extent to which the findings of research could be ascribed to the factors investigated, and not other extraneous things.
Against this background, most of the teams could only explain, and pleaded with the Council to reckon with their predicament, adding that, “this is an opportunity for us to learn more of what is expected of us.”
To drive the point home, in his concluding remarks, TEC Chief Executive Officer, Dr Patrick Molutsi, said, “This is only the end of the beginning.” He added that, “this is set to be an annual ritual although the grants are likely to be increased.”
Molutsi posited that TEC has now transcended the point of transformation.
“We are now deepening the transformation,” concluded the former UB academic.