Health, engineering and creative arts as well as media studies programmes have received the largest share of government sponsorship for higher education learners this academic cycle.
This is subsequent to a review process that was undertaken by the Ministry of Education and Skills Development (MoESD) and its partners in tertiary education financing.
The review, carried out in April has just been concluded.
According to the results of the review published in the Daily News recently, the health sector gets the lion’s share as 2,140 places have been awarded to institutions offering disciplines such as nursing, medicine and physiotherapy.
Within the health programmes, general nursing offered by Institute of Health Sciences has been awarded 300 places, followed by Occupational Health and Safety with 200 spaces while Public Health, Counselling, Environmental Health, Pharmacy have been allocated 150 learners each. Engineering will receive 1,122 beginners, majority of whom (175) will read for chemical, electrical and electronic, mechanical, civil, structural, energy, water and mineral engineering. This is followed by motor vehicle engineering, which will have 120 learners, with aircraft maintenance receiving the least number of students at 22.
Media related programmes, which have been churning graduates at a fast pace are the third largest beneficiary for the 2016/17 sponsorship period. The University of Botswana’s new department of visual and performing arts will receive 100 students under its theatre programme and media studies will train the same number of students. Limkokwing University of Creative Technology will receive 75 learners for the following programmes: digital film and television, broadcasting, creative multimedia, graphic design, event management, interior design and furniture design. Meanwhile, IT and computing programmes have been cut to 200 slots for this academic period.
These students will be admitted at the University of Botswana - 90 for computer science; the Botswana International University of Science and Technology will receive 20 to study information systems and data management; and the Botswana Accountancy College will train 90 in business computing.
As part of aligning training with labour market needs, in 2015, the Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) noted that not all wanting programmes would be ceased, as recommendations to optimise such courses would be part of forming a solution to the prevailing skills mismatch. “Already, the ICT enabling sector; a component of the National Human Resource Development Strategy of 2009, has questioned the quality and execution of some ICT programmes. To this effect, the ICT sectoral committee has proposed a meeting with all providers, the industry and the HRDC to review the curricula,” said Patrick Molutsi of the HRDC at the time.
The education ministry has confirmed taking a firm stand on providing sponsorships as per the quota system, depending on market needs.
Chief public relations officer in the ministry, Oteng Mokowe, 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 HDRDC 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, government sponsored 138,969 students to study locally, 48,264 of them were 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. Mokowe said the total number of new students sponsored last year was 8,561 and this financial year the number is projected to reach 10,237.
The quota system was introduced last year though not widely publicised. Last year, the director of Tertiary Education Financing, Eugene Moyo, said they had started using the quota system as drawn by the Human Resource Development Council’s labour advisory sectoral committees to reduce training for areas that were over-subscribed. “We then gave these quotas to institutions in order to guide their admission,” he said.