In October 2009 the Trainers and Allied Workers Union (TAWU or "union") made a proposal to the Office of the President for a "Reorganisation of the Ministry of Education and Skills Development" as part of the union's advocacy role. The union has continued to lobby for this position. We are convinced about the correctness of this position in the context of Botswana's development planning (including NDP 10) and the opportunity it would bring to resolve many problems currently encountered, not just in physical terms (workload) but also in organisational (governance) qualitative terms (socio-economic impact).
On February 11, 2013 the union proposed to the Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Hon M Masisi, that the accepts to receive a position paper by 1st April 2013. He advised that a shorter version be presented by Wednesday 13th February, which we have obliged to.By re-organisation, we propose for a split of the MoESD and the creation of a new ministry to focus on Human Resource Development (as the overarching functional role), Tertiary Education, Technical and Vocational Education and Training and Research, Science, Technology and Innovation. In 2009 we proposed that a transformation towards the full split could start gradually with phased internal separation of the MoESD into two Assistant Ministerial portfolios and a Deputy Permanent Secretary for Higher Education (which is currently a small unit). That would demonstrate how the synergy between Basic Education and Higher Education would unfold in the medium term.
Our view is inspired by recent organisational reforms in the holistic management of Tertiary Education (mainly the Tertiary Education Policy and the National Human Resource Strategy) and the growth and emphasis of Technical and Vocational Education and Training as well as the move towards the creation of Human Resource Planning and the Labour Market Observatory, as the market signal for supply and demand of skills in the economy.Unfortunately in terms of regulation, only BOTA was moved from Labour and Home Affairs ministry, while Apprenticeship remained, although the Revised National Policy on Education (RNPE) viewed correctly viewed them as intertwined.
Our view is that the uptake of current reforms towards Human Resource development would not be realised, and would be slowed and constrained by existing organisational make-up of the MoESD. The MoESD is heavily structured to respond well to Basic Education at the expense of Human Resource planning, Tertiary Education supply, Vocational Training and Research and Technology (the knowledge economy). Hence MoESD tends to be operational mode rather than coordinating, strategic mode. The sheer volume and size of Education and Skills Development functions of government also point towards reorganisation.Such a policy shift would also dovetail well with the diversification drive and is not inconsistent with the EDD policy.Our fear is that the Ministry of Education and Skills Development (MoESD) in its current organisational set up will not be in a position to drive economic diversification through knowledge and skills. The imperative to lessen dependence on finite minerals, cattle and tourism and to transform towards people, knowledge and skills cannot be overemphasised. Already Botswana has accepted the validity of such development approach as demonstrated by the success of Singapore and Mauritius and many other nations. While we acknowledge existing threats and constraints, we think Botswana has an excellent opportunity of available infrastructure and facilities, good ICT network and a growing knowledge base of people holding advanced qualifications (though highly underutilised in terms of applied research output).
We are also motivated by our exposure to literature on the subject and our participation in different policy forums and bodies, have led us to believe that the re-organisation of the Ministry is a critical issue. We are also very much aware of the mainstream views on the subject. In light of these, we present a synopsis of our views on why and how the MoESD should be re-organised.
Re-Organising the Education Ministry
TAWU is confident with the view that the solution to unload the organisational, policy and operational burden on the Ministry of Education and Skills Development is to divide the education sector into two ministries. There should be a new Ministry of Human Resource Development and Planning (MHRDP) to coordinate the development of the sector in close synergy with a Ministry of Basic/General Education. The key functions of MHRDP would be the coordination and management of the supply of knowledge and skills directly for the labour market. This includes open learning and research and innovation.
MHRDP would relate well with Macro-economic and Development planning, the envisaged Employment Policy (MFDP) and Labour Market information (currently moved from Ministry of Finance & Development Planning to HRDAC) and cross border issues trade and competitiveness (Ministry of Trade and Industry). Thus, the envisaged MHRDP would ensure that the "knowledge economy" increasingly drives economic growth and development.The mainstream of research, science and innovation is to see them outside the loop of Education and Skills. This is borne from the current organisation of the MoESD. However, we posit that an indigenous manufacturing sector cannot be built without applied research output.
We are aware that the 2006 DPSM's O&M Review is against such re-organisation, based partly on a previous position held by some neighbouring countries, including South Africa (which recently abandoned such a position).As a compromise position we believe that the country should start moving in this direction by subdividing the MoESD at both administrative and political levels. That is, having one Senior Minister and two Assistant Ministers responsible for the specializations. The decision of changing the deputy minister to assistant minister is not unloading the burden that hinders effective progress within the ministry.
The underlying principles for this are that it would:
Lead to more efficient management by reducing the Ministry's workload by splitting departments and functions.Currently this is made more important by the planned transfer of some functions from Local Authorities (equipment and infrastructure) to the MoESD. Basic Education stream is also introducing other new areas at primary level, such as pre-school education, subject specialisations and pre vocationalisation of secondary education curriculum etc. Empower regulatory institutions, especially the funding of the functions of the HRDC and related institutions to realise national aspirations. Directly link the labour market and other sectors, thus responding to issues of growth, poverty and inequalities (the latter are urgently inappropriately managed through an expensive and unsustainable state funded schemes). Speed up the development of the economy towards knowledge and skills. It would also allow a clearer evaluation of the returns to investment from public financing.Better manage the development of an emerging private higher education sub-sector, which poses a threat to reform policy due to its generally poor handling of the profit objectives against national development needs and regulatory frameworks (labour laws, quality assurance etc).
Reduce dependence on public funding of higher education towards alternative productive sources. A new, sustainable model of funding tertiary education is needed.Harness applied research output towards manufacturing growth and service industry (attitude and value development).Unlock domestic potential for knowledge-driven growth, diversification and entrepreneurship. Respond directly and systematically to the crisis of youth and graduate unemployment (skills mismatch).Prepare Botswana for a post-diamond development era while building its trade competitiveness, led by non-traditional sectors.
Challenges to institutional reforms
There is a relatively good focus on HRD in NDP 10. However, the supply side of higher education and vocational training receive unfavourable attention and neglect. There is also a serious paralysis as to how institutions are to be transformed.Usually reforms are delayed or derailed by "turf wars" and conservative and defensive views geared towards protecting certain economic and social interest (which can be linked to rent-seeking behavior and possible corruption). There is a need for a comprehensive review of the roles of non-university Public training institutions to assess their relevance and potential against the national human resource strategy including the diversification drive and innovation. Currently the closure of some institutions and the transformation of others (such as BIAC, Colleges of Education and the Institutes of Health Sciences) are done outside the ambit of the Tertiary Education Council and the Ministry of Education and Skills Development. The processes are haphazard and destructive. The TEC has produced poor transformation models which point to its gross failure in this regard.
It is highly probable that costly mistakes, owing to lack of coordination with broad
social objectives, would be made in the process. There is also uncertainty on how re-configurations of some institutions ought to proceed, in such institutions as Roads Training Centre, Botswana Wildlife Training Institute and Botswana Meat Inspectors Training Centre. This is probably caused by the disregard of the statutory role of TEC (and the approved TE Policy) in advising government of the future of such institutions by different government ministries which govern such institutions. Such a national review would include the review of statutory training centers such as IDM, BNPC and Botswana Accountancy College. We strongly believe that had such a holistic approach been taken earlier, public institutions would have adequately met the training needs in different knowledge areas, thereby significantly reducing the cost of external training. The funding of external training remains a very high leakage out of the economy - Botswana is probably the only economy in Africa which continues to send students for degrees in Australia, UK and USA (excluding grants). This may be attributed to a policy failure driven by an illusion of endless mineral revenue (De beers slogan of "diamonds are forever").
There should be a deliberate move towards giving operational autonomy to non-university training and research institutions. Government ministries and departments are stifling the growth of institutions by placing administrative hurdles and excessive control. They also limit the growth of knowledge disciplines and levels. For instance, collectively the five Colleges of Education could very easily offer a degree programme and a variety of specialities, based on the organisational design recommended by the TEC, of a multi-campus national institute. The same could be said of the eight health institutes. For far too long we have limited our potential and failed to optimise available resources, while we accept to send students abroad to institutions smaller than these local public colleges. While we delay and procrastinate knowledge is moving and trained personnel are leaving the institutions.
Employees through their Trade unions should be given more space in the organisational make-up to contribute to institutional reform of training institutions. Too often change is solely in the hands of Directors and Institutional Heads and very little input is tolerated from operational employees. Hence poor conceptualisation and delay in effecting institutional reforms. Except in exceptional cases, employee consultation is done in an insincere manner and usually after decisions have been finalised. Additionally, there should be a comprehensive review of pay and benefits for academic staff in training and research institutions as part of the sector's development (already UB has started such a process). Too many professionals are lost from teaching and research. We believe that it is not possible to create a knowledge society while continuously losing the stock of academics and researchers to business and industry.
There should be a national study on the potential or lack of in the capacity of private consultancies and external trainers in meeting national capacity building, both in the private and public sectors. The Botswana National Productivity Centre (BNPC) has raised this concern. This would inform the process of creating a knowledge base and diversification into skills so that policy is accurate and deliberate rather than an adhoc or trial-and-error process. The contribution and dependence on external expertise should be evaluated and the skills gaps known with precision, including the costs of importing foreign expertise in the area of training, research and consultancy. The link between employment/ labour relations and quality assurance in private colleges and universities should be thoroughly institutionalised, indirectly using the leverage of student funding to ensure adherence to labour standards. In addition MoESD should actively promote the institutionalisation of social dialogue at industry level through industry-wide bargaining. MoESD could easily control such a process using the leverage of student funding. This would go a long way in stabilising the emerging private sector in labour relations as well as retention, motivation and quality assurance. In its current organisational make up the MoESD is unlikely to carry out such regulatory step.
Theoretical and philosophical foundations of current policy
Education is usually acknowledged as the basic instrument for promoting economic growth. In the African context, it can be used as the pillar to climb out of poverty therefore very crucial to be support education by all means. In most cases, more emphasis is on primary to secondary education (basic education).The Dakar summit on Education for all in 2000 advocated only for primary education as a driver of broad social welfare neglecting the higher education (Bloom,Canning&Chan,2006). Higher education is mostly not prioritised within development initiatives because of the old ideology that there is no evidence that higher education affects economic growth and poverty reduction. Bloom et al (2006) suggested that some early economists, mainly, Milton Friedman and Rose could not find any evidence for social benefit but rather hypothesized that higher education may contribute to social unrest and political instability.
It can be suggested that Botswana still holds the old ideology of putting more emphasis on basic education. This is typical of post-colonial development where the initial emphasis was to replace or takeover the colonial administration. For instance, in the 2013/2014 budget proposal, 1.18 billion was given to MoESD from which 997.40million is allocated to expansion of basic education alone (Budget speech, 2013). In contrast with the old ideology and Botswana's practice, the recent evidence shows that higher education is a determinant as well as a result of income and can produce public and private benefits. Higher education may create greater tax revenue, increase savings and investment, and lead to a more entrepreneurial and civic society. It can also improve a nation's health, contribute to reduced population growth, improve technology, and strengthen governance.
With regard to the benefits of higher education for a country's economy, many observers attribute India's leap onto the world economic stage as stemming from its decades-long successful efforts to provide high-quality, technically oriented tertiary education to a significant number of its citizens (Bloom, etal, 2006).
In our development policy trajectory, a policy shift towards Human Resource development would unlock the potential we already have and prepare Botswana for a post-resource based economy. The time is appropriate for such a policy shift and the opportunity should not be wasted. The plateau-ing of public revenue provides an excellent opportunity to re-think funding, governance, organisational and operational issues.
Conclusions And Recommendations
His synoptic paper makes the following arguments and recommendations: The MoESD should be split in a gradual, phased method.A new ministry to focus on Human Resource Development should be established which would work very closely with a Ministry of Basic and General Education, Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, Trade and Industry and Labour and Home Affairs. There are compelling reasons for a split which have been overlooked by the 2006 O&M review of the MOESD. The returns/ benefits of the policy shift from re-organisation far outweigh the retention of the current organisation. For instance, a split is consistent with NDP 10 priorities towards HRD's role in diversification and growth. It also offers an opportunity to transform towards a post-diamond era and to place Botswana in a competitive position in a highly innovative trade environment increasingly led by large developing economies. A split would improve social indicators linked to the labour market.
Challenges to current reforms are reinforced by the current organisational set up of MoESD. In its current organisational set up MoESD is more likely to slow down or impede drive towards HRD reforms, to maintain a model based on large state funding driven by natural resources. Resources and policy is biased against supply issues of Tertiary Education and Skills development institutions, especially Non university institutions. The theoretical and philosophical foundations for retention of a bloated MoESD are premised on loss of synergy and the overemphasis of basic education. These are based on outdated, conservative theories.Commission an Organisational Review of MoESD to respond to recent organisational and institutional reforms linked to HRDC.Establish a National Commission on Education, Skills and Innovation to present a turnaround of thinking towards transforming Botswana in preparation for a post-diamond era. The TORs should include institutional, policy and funding issues.The above represents a synopsis of the views of the Trainers and Allied Workers Union (TAWU) on the above subject.