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Last Updated
Friday 11 June 2021, 13:14 pm.
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Issues In Education

'Joy and Misery in External Tertiary Placements'
By D. MOLEFE
O. PANSIRI and
S. WEEKS
(GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Issues In Education








For quite a while now external placement for many Form Five leavers and some officers on in-service training takes place in Southern Africa, Australia and Asia, due to lower costs of tuition and other factors considered relevant to the Botswana context.

However, many questions are being asked about the quality of students' life, the habits they are socialised into, the security available to them and the emotional stress they suffer in some of the places.

While education and training opportunities outside the country are necessary, it should not be forgotten that young Batswana still need to study in places that would instil some degree of good citizenship, proper human ethics and where they would learn in a caring and crime free environment. Having a concern for Botswana's future, these issues cannot be ignored.

University rankings do circulate regularly and there is much information available online about other institutions. Issues such as student and staff involvement in research, the research rankings, the quality of various academic programmes, the credentials of academic staff, the available infrastructure, the libraries and other facilities are now easily found on the worldwide web. Through these sources it is easily verified that many universities in Southern Africa, Australia and Asia are rated as highly as those in the Northern countries. The information available also allows universities to evaluate themselves and work towards improving standards in their offerings.

Students are the core clients and consumers of the various programmes of these higher education institutions. Students know what happens outside of normal academic life in their institutions. A complete educational programme, that is essential to attain, would include consideration of the quality of the social life in the communities where students are studying. The surroundings, both on the higher education institution's campus and in the community play a major role in students' learning and development. The milieu makes a difference. Young people need to develop a good impression about the world in which they will be expected to

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participate upon completion of their studies. Tertiary education sponsors from one country to another need to know about the total experience of students' academic life, not just the staff and courses that will be studied. This includes the nature of accommodation available; the security and safety measures for students and their properties; the educational nurturing environment through access to service facilities such as an effective transport system, good banking facilities, sporting facilities and so on.

It appears parents and Batswana in general are not informed about the universities and communities where their children are sent to study. There is a growing concern that some students end up in very traumatic situations in some places. Already many parents are concerned about unpleasant experiences that their children encounter in other countries. Students are the targets of armed robbery, room breakings, and theft from their bank accounts; and in some cases students cannot walk freely in the streets. There are allegations of stories of misery rather than the joy of academic life. Some parents are worried because their children get overwhelmed by these outside factors.

Perhaps a formal survey of students' (current and former) views, experiences and perceptions about their tertiary institutions is necessary to both sponsors and individual countries. Individual universities could carry out a study on this issue. It is, however, best that each country carries out its own survey using its students in various places. In this case ministries of education can easily carry out the surveys. Results of such surveys would help countries to make informed decisions on where best to train their children. It would also help countries to address needs of students in the region. Parents need the information too so that they may participate on decisions about their children's placement. It should be for a reasonable purpose to place students in very caring, crime free and educationally nurturing institutions rather than opt for cheaper institutions with a poor quality of academic life.

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