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"A Knowledge-Based Economy", What Is My Role?

IGNATIOUS NJOBVU
As a country, Botswana has always maintained high overall rankings in Africa on most development indices.

The country ranked third in sub-Saharan Africa on the UNDP Human Development Index in 2015, third in the Mo Ibrahim Index of Africa Governance in 2014, 28th out of 168 countries globally on the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index in 2015 and 41st out of 180 on freedom of the media in 2014 (Vision 2036, page 8).

However, Botswana has maintained the status of a middle-income country for some time. Although the statistics are a good evidence of an economically balanced nation, signs of stagnation in this status are ostensible. We now need to deliberately put in measures which can help us move ahead. Fate alone won’t give us a high-income economy. Consciously competent human resource is the key force that can get us a diversified Knowledge Based Economy.

Botswana hopes to be a high-income country, with an export-led economy underpinned by diversified, inclusive and sustainable growth driven by high levels of productivity. In clear terms, the pillar communicates the need for an innovative and entrepreneurial labour force. This is one area that we are found wanting. The unfortunate scenario existing today is when individuals or departments think that diversifying an economy is a mandate that does not concern them. Whether this myopic view is a result of ignorance or design, it is very regressive and certainly does harm to the idea of ‘achieving prosperity for all’.

In actual fact, everybody can and should be doing something in this journey. It is less encouraging to have a policy implementer dismissing a policy that they ought to implement. Yes, one can have misgivings or reservations on the mode of implementation, but not to completely dismiss a policy and have nothing to do about it. Such characters have a sorrowful mindset. Times have moved forward yet we still remain in the past.

The 11 critical education sector strategic priorities are a clear indication that the transformational agenda cuts across several ministries. There is a clouding perception in our midst that ETSSP is for the Ministry of Basic Education to run alone. Such a belief has the potential to jeopardise collaboration between departments. If allowed to persist, certain priorities will

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have challenges in seeing the light of the day.

 We often mistake multiple pathways as equal to ETSSP. In as much as we have several initiatives that are meant to address the critical priorities of the plan, multiple Pathways is a subset of the bigger strategy.

Surprisingly, one gets to hear educational officers asking such questions “Is this a school leadership turnaround strategy workshop or ETSSP workshop”? Little do they know that all initiatives trying to improve school management and leadership are simply addressing some critical priorities under the ETSSP. This is the extent to which we need to help one another in this education transformation agenda. That notwithstanding, there is a concerted effort by different stakeholders to deliver what is expected from the strategy. It is worth noting the construction and expansion of schools under the economic stimulus package (ESP) as addressing equitable access to education. Through the same dispensation, several primary schools have already been furnished with computers in order to integrate ICT in teaching and learning. At this point, it is also worth mentioning the immense contribution by the private sector in human resource development.

As a teacher stationed in Maun for some time, I would confidently give an example of the Lecha family, who have enormously and consistently offered a helping hand to education and human resource development at various levels. Several other companies, groups and individuals are playing an impeccable role in ensuring that the education agenda meets the needs of the markets and help produce a human resource that will sustain the economy.

Let me conclude by emphasising on the need for advancement in science and technology. Countries benefit immensely from generating, adopting and adapting to technology and innovation to move their economies to higher levels. We therefore need to accelerate and support all measures that are intended to improve STEM in basic education. In order for us to enable learners to be more creative and innovative right from primary education, there is need for specialisation in teaching. Learners ought to do less subjects so that more time is directed for life skills engagements, including creativity and innovation.



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