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Govt to slash tertiary education funding

TSAONE BASIMANEBOTLHE
Tertiary Students
The Government will reduce the amount spent on sponsoring tertiary students, by 27% in the next financial year, Mmegi has learnt.

According to available data Government authorised the expenditure of P 3.3 billion in 2016/17 financial year. Reports suggest that the figure will be cut down to P2.4 billion when the Minister of Finance and Economic Development Kenneth Matambo presents his budget speech on February 6.

Last year Education ministry took a firm stand on providing higher education sponsorships based on quota system informed by skills required by the market. For decades, the Government has been the majority tertiary education financier. Recently, calls for alternative funding models have heightened as evidenced by a mega conference in the capital on the matter late 2016. 

In previous interviews, chief public relations officer in the Ministry, Oteng Mokowe, had told Mmegi that courses that had been given the largest share such as health, engineering and others were critical to the economy, as identified by HRDC sector committees. “The total budget for the new and continuing students sponsorship that Government will be financing this year is P2.1 billion,” he said.

Over the past three years, the Government sponsored 138,969 students to study locally, with 48,264 of them placed during 2013/14; 48,000 during 2014/15; and the remainder during 2015/16.  The budget was P1.8 billion, P1.7 billion and P2.3 billion respectively.

At University of Botswana (UB), over 1,500 beginning students were left in limbo as classes commenced on August 1 last year due to lack of funding.

Meanwhile the UB, which requested for P1 billion will be given P703 million from P678.4 million in 2016/17 financial year for

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day to day running of the university. Previously when presenting before Public Account Committee (PAC) vice chancellor Professor Thabo Fako had indicated that UB needed P1 billion in urgent funding.

Fako’s remarks blaming the government for under-funding, as well as harbouring intentions to collapse the UB have put him at a collision cause with UB council, which is under pressure to fire him. “This case is made strong by instant decisions to cut funding of certain programmes, as opposed to having an informed and gradual policy to reduce intake on certain programmes.

“It is a very unfortunate attitude,” Fako said.

Recently a number of institutions have been retrenching staff because of failure by Government to sponsor students. However the report indicates that money spent on temporary teachers has increased from P80,8 million to P155,8 million. Botswana Teachers Day celebrations funding has also been cut from P4,5 million to P2,2 million in this coming financial year, the leaked report indicate.

Only schools with special needs haveseen an increase in budget for example Francistown School for the Deaf which was given P500,000 in 2016/17 will be allocated P3 million, Lephoi Centre for the Blind, which was allocated P600,000 in 2016/17 will get P3 million amongst others.  In total the now split Ministry of Education and Skills Development budget has been cut by four percent from P11.6 billion. Ministry of Basic Education has been allocated P6.8 billion while Ministry of Tertiary Education, Research and Technology would be given 4.3 billion.



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