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Tan Sri Limkokwing: The education maverick who turned Botswana into a rare gem through skills development

CORRESPONDENT
Tan Sri Lim Kok Wing
When officiating at the graduation ceremony of Limkokwing University of Creative Technology (LUCT) in 2017, the then Botswana Vice President and now President Mokgweetsi Masisi lamented that it was without a doubt that Limkokwing University is transforming the national tertiary education landscape by nurturing talent through creativity and design-focused thinking.

He said since the University established a campus in Gaborone in 2007, it has not just brought 21st century relevant programmes but it has also imbued the students with a unique fusion of African, Asian and European education thus better enabling Botswana to retain its brightest young people.

‘‘In partnering with Limkokwing University, the government was impressed with its unique and refreshingly different approach to tertiary education,’’ President Masisi said at the time.

Twelve years later since it opened its doors to local students, Limkokwing University has become the most sought-after university in the country, as young people who leave secondary school mostly prefer it as their number one tertiary institution of choice.

This has been attributed to exactly what President Masisi spoke about; providing relevant programmes for the 21st century and hence contributing immensely to the human capital of Botswana and diversifying the economy with the provision of e-skills. 

For the Founder and President of Limkokwing University, Tan Sri Limkokwing, this vision has long been embedded in his drive to change the tertiary education landscape of Africa to match the demands of the students in the 21st century. 

In one of the interviews he did way back in 2009, Tan Sri opined that today’s young generation is a different quality of people.

‘‘They are growing up in an era of technology that has enhanced connectivity and eased laborious work. It’s a digital world where the word ‘instant’ is moving from hours to minutes to seconds and now it is reducing further to nano-seconds,’’ observed Tan Sri, who has been described by many world leaders as having an uncanny ability to stay ahead because he is able to discern the future.

Discern the future indeed because that is exactly how Tan Sri came up with the idea to set up a university in Botswana at a time when private tertiary enterprises were not generally considered by foreign investors. 

Tan Sri looked into the future and saw the potential that his university could turn Botswana into a rare gem in Africa.

‘‘In Botswana, we see the opportunity to change Africa,’’ Tan Sri said at the time.  The story of how Tan Sri ended up setting campus in Botswana is that of a man who does not put monetary returns at the forefront of his investments.  He took a risk that no other person could consider in 2001 when he decided it was time he brought the university to the Botswana students after the government had been spending millions of pula to send students abroad to acquire creative skills.

His bold move paid off as the university has since produced over 30, 000 globalised, highly skilled and the most industry sought after graduates. Described in some quarters as the man who designed the future, Tan Sri holds the belief that it is creative people who build economies around the world.

“Anywhere in the world it is creative people who

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crate new business, new products, new media, new lifestyles, new trends, new standards, new heroes,” Tan Sri stated.

Today Botswana thrives on graduates from Limkokwing University as they can be found in almost all the creative sectors of the economy in the country such as television production, radio, fashion design, graphic design, journalism and the creative arts.

Through the Limkokwing Entrepreneurship Acceleration Platform (LEAP), the university produces students who would be job creators rather than job seekers.

True to his word, Tan Sri did not just set up in Botswana and sit on his laurels. He ensured that the Botswana campus serves as a launching pad for other African countries as was witnessed by the opening of the Lesotho campus in 2008, followed by the Swaziland (now eSwatini) campus in 2011.

The Limkokwing wings have since spread to other countries such as Sierra Leone, which opened in 2018, Namibia, Rwanda and Uganda campuses scheduled to open in 2020.

Tan Sri Limkokwing has been instrumental in changing worldwide perception of Malaysian education and initiated closer collaborations with the Commonwealth and the United Nations where he has paved the way for Malaysia to play a significant role.

He is chairperson of the Advisory Board; United Nations Global Compact, Malaysia. The Asia Pacific CSR Council awarded him the honour of Father of Responsible Innovation & Creative Education. He is a member of The World Federation of UN Friends and was also awarded the Salver of Honour by the World Federation of Friends of the United Nations.

His lifelong journey empowering people and nations was paid fitting tribute when he received the Commonwealth Champions Award and is only the eight recipient of this prestigious award in the history of the Commonwealth.

He is truly one of the world’s most highly decorated citizens for excellence in innovation, communications, advertising, education and as an international peacemaker.

Thousands of young people from around the world have gained a global tertiary education by virtue of the University’s pioneering and innovative education philosophy, which is creativity oriented.

More the 30,000 students study at Limkokwing University’s 12 campuses in Asia, Africa and Europe. Its main campus in KL’s tech-city, Cyberjaya alone holds close to 10,000 students, 80% of them from foreign countries and is the nation’s ground breaking University with unrivalled emphasis on innovation and creativity. The University has changed the tertiary education landscape not only in Botswana but in every country it has established itself in.

Its inspirational ecosystems and global strategic outlook produces 21st century graduates who are leading social and economic transformational across the globe. For 50years, Tan Sri has passionately involved himself in nation-building and advocated transformation and innovation of human capital for developing nations and organisations – as key to a more equitable and peaceful world into the next decade of the 21st century.

*Mercy Thebe is the Head of the Media Relations Department at Limkokwing University of Creative Technology

 



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