Former doyen of Education at the University of Botswana, Professor Temba Prescott Vanqa died earlier this month at the age of 90.
Professor Vanqa was born in Lady Frere, South Africa on November 29, 1929.
After acquiring a Diploma in Education in 1954, Prof Vanqa started his teaching career in 1955 wh teaching History and Geography in several schools. After three years of teaching at the junior secondary level, he continued his university studies at the University of Fort Hare, where he acquired a Bachelor of Arts degree, which he completed in 1958 with majors in History and Geography.
Following graduation, in 1959 he secured a post at Newell High School in Port Elizabeth where he was put in charge of teaching History and Geography in upper classes. In addition to his teaching assignment, he was also tasked with promoting the school’s cultural activities, as well as sports organisation. At the same time he served as a senior rugby coach.
In 1963 he joined the Bechuanaland Protectorate Education Service and was first posted at Seepapitso Secondary School in Kanye where he continued to teach History and Geography. He also helped with sport, and was tasked with promoting a vibrant cultural life of the students. After a spell of three years he joined St Joseph’s College in 1966. It was at this school that he was first introduced to school administration with his appointment as the First Master.
There, he picked up a wide range of administrative experience, which put him on a sound footing to carry out more demanding administrative work when he was transferred to Gaborone Secondary School as Deputy Headmaster in 1971. Between 1972 and July 1975 he served as Headmaster of Lobatse Secondary School and Shashe River School.
During this period, in addition to his teaching responsibilities, he served in a number of committees and professional bodies.
As a member of the Botswana Teachers Union (BTU), he served first as Assistant Secretary, then Secretary General and finally as editor of the teachers’ magazine, Teacher. Through the magazine, together with his contemporaries they drew tremendous support for the Union from the public in general and the government in particular. Prof Vanqa served ably in this role, and also represented the Union in the Examinations Council for the former High Commission Territories of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland, and the National Council for Teacher Education.
In pursuance of his interests in History subject, he became the first Secretary of the Botswana History Association while Sandy Grant served s Chairman. About the same time, he was appointed by the Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Education, to chair the History Panel in 1972.
During that time, he was also an active member of the Community, and served in various capacities including as a Trustee of the Trinity Church for a number of years, and four years as Councillor of the Holy Cross Cathedral for four years.
A highly accomplished educationist, Prof Vanqa went on to serve in various other secondary schools in Botswana, such as Moeding College at Otse, Moeng College near Palapye, and Kgari Sechele in Molepolole. After this long stint as a secondary school teacher and administrator, he joined the University of Botswana (UB) on September 1, 1975 as a Lecturer in the Faculty of Education.
While in the University employ Professor Vanqa completed his Masters in Education at the University of New England in Australia in 1979. Upon his return from Australia, he joined the Department
Early on in his service to the University, he was tasked with varied and demanding responsibilities, which included serving as member of the Teaching Practice Committee, Admissions Committee, and also coordinated the three Teacher Training Colleges of the time, a position which involved him in the teaching practice and moderation of these institutions.
Over the years he also served in many other capacities, which contributed immensely to the growth of the nascent local Campus of UBLS, which was later renamed UBS.
Professor Vanqa presented various conference papers, and authored book chapters and consultancy reports. One of his celebrated accomplishments is a book he authored book entitled “The Development of Education in Bechuanaland”. His publications include numerous book chapters amongst them Vanqa, T. (1988). “African Nationalism in South Africa”, (In L.D. Ngcongco, (Ed.) Junior Certificate History of Southern Africa (Book2).
This JC text was an important contribution to the advancement of school history, as it was one amongst a series of specially packaged materials that adopted an approach which tackled historical issues from an Africanist point of view. This approach enabled Africans to tell their own story, in order to counter the Eurocentric approaches that were hitherto pervasive. One such was the ubiquitous text entitled “From the Stone Axe to the Space Age” by Blake and Haliburton.
Prof Vanqa’s other publications of note include Vanqa, T. (1993) “A Survey of Teacher Education”, (In Botswana and Present Trends” in Kros and Herman (Eds) Educational Change in Southern Africa. His journal articles amongst many others include Vanqa, T. (1989). ”…..no Trouble to Whiteman”: Teaching Batswana; Vanqa, T. (1989). The Story of the BPTA/BTU 1937-1987; Vanqa, T. (1989). Issues in the Development of the Educational System in Botswana: 1966-1986. Professor Vanqa immensely contributed to the development of Botswana Teachers Union, and he held the positions of Assistant Secretary, Secretary General and finally editor of the ‘Teacher’ Magazine.
Prof Vanqa also made an immense contribution to the development of Sports in Botswana and was appointed Chairman of Botswana Sports Council in 1993. He was well recognised by other Universities in the region, having served as External Examiner for the Moi University in Kenya and National University of Lesotho. Prof Vanqa was a member of different professional bodies and associations in Botswana and the region.
During his tenure at the UB Prof Vanqa taught and mentored many individuals who have gone on to become influential contributors of note in the nation and beyond.
Amongst his achievements of note is that he was a founder-member of the foremost educational research facilitation and capacity-building body, the Botswana Educational Research Association in the early 1980s, alongside his colleagues, including the late Mr Ray Matlapeng Molomo.
Prof Vanqa rose through the ranks to become Senior Lecturer in 1990 and ultimately Associate Professor in 1994. He also served as Head of Department and later Dean of the Faculty of Education from 1991 to 1995.
Prof Vanqa retired from the University of Botswana in 2002 after an elaborate and illustrious service of close to three decades. He passed on in Johannesburg on January 12, 2020.
There is a memorial service planned for this afternoon (Friday) at Anglican Cathedral (Holy Cross) in Gaborone.