The recently released statistics for unemployment from the Botswana Multi Topic Household Survey (BMTHS) of 2015/16 indicate that although the unemployment rate is still high, it has however declined from the previous 19.9% in 2011 to 17.6% in 2016.
According to the report, the hardest hit group being the youth ranging from 15 to 35 years which accounts for 25.2%. This age range constitutes mostly secondary school graduates as well as tertiary.
This reality has provoked a national debate and analysis has been and is still being done in finding the real reason why unemployment has engulfed our nation and solutions thereof.
Most recent research by most local and international institutions deduce that graduates lack practical skills and competencies to fit the market and that those who have, turn to mismatch that which the market requires. Some survey depict that it is the attitude towards work that renders our eligible employees jobless as they do not possess the right characteristics that would add value.
All these reasons seem to point at one subject which is quality and relevance of the education provided today, that is to say whether or not the current curriculum responds to the needs of the job market. Is what is taught in secondary schools and tertiary education in context with the society? This question posits whether or not the SUPPLY is in consonant to the DEMAND.
I want us to shift the goal posts this time around and face the level of Industrialisation. How much industrialisation do we have that can swallow the many graduates born of our learning institutions?
Is the economy stimulated enough to allow for capital lending from financial institutions to facilitate the many brilliant ideas from our youth or maybe all creativity and innovation is suffocated due to lack of capital?
Of course YES Economic Development is to a larger extent connected to how much the residents are contributing to it in terms of private business development, productivity at work and the habit of saving to allow financial institutions to lend money. All these can be summed up to meaning a growth in economy and expanding industrialisation.
Now that we find ourselves wanting in these areas, what should be an immediate intervention in the meantime as we try to forge a lasting solution in the long term?
I want to very much appreciate the incoming Education Training Sector Strategic Plan (ETSSP) that is in itself geared towards addressing issues of quality and relevance of our education.
One important component of the plan is the Multiple Pathways to be introduced at secondary school level to address various abilities and interests of various students. Every student is going to be specialising in what they already have knowledge on. This will allow every citizen to play a role in economic development of this
It will equip every graduate with skills that they have passion for and by extension allow them to play a meaningful role in the economic activities on day to day bases.
The other important initiative under the ETSSP is the inducement of what I term ‘Life Skills’ in the curriculum.
‘Ways of thinking and learning skills’, ‘Ways of working skills’, ‘Skills to use tools for working’ and ‘Living in the world (Civic) skills’ are very much encompassed in the projected curriculum.
This will address issues of attitude towards work and induce the zeal for productivity. In all, ETSSP is a strategic solution in the long term. I am very honoured and humbled to have been selected as one of the officers to lead the implementation of this noble project. All thanks to the North West Education office headed by the leadership of Mr. Mohube (Director, Regional Operations) and Maun Secondary School under Ms Modisaemang (School Head).
The success of this project will not only shed light to the greyish conditions we have today, but also have a lasting bright future for the future generations.
In the meantime, I am of the view that strategic partnership with investors can just do the magic. Our policies should be blended such that they are biased towards attracting investors who are not only going to inject money into our economy (Foreign Direct Investments) but also manifest the right attitude and skill in handling businesses.
Loosening up on the mountainous bureaucracy can also encourage citizens to naturally turn the economy into a vibrant open market. We would be surprised at the level at which people can find ways and means on how to survive.
This fosters creativity and innovations which are the building block of knowledge based economy. Lastly, I believe whole heartedly that the concept of ‘BUY BOTSWANA’ is key to improving micro and macroeconomics.
The concept can catapult the economy to levels that would reduce unemployment in short term. Buy Botswana would mean expansion of micro enterprises, more enthusiasm for subsistence and commercial farming and exponential increment in creativity and innovation by Batswana and local entities.
Let me conclude my view by appreciating the need to shape up the SUPPLY, but let us also critically analyse the influence of the DEMAND. The following question seems to always have the better of me ‘between a hen and an egg, what evolved first’? Now I ask you, is it the unripe SUPPLY of graduates contributing to unemployment or is it the insufficient DEMAND that is contributing more?