Since government started sponsoring students enrolled in private tertiary Education and Training Providers (ETPs) in 2007, allegations and cases of mismanagement and maladministration have been rife.
The allegations include mismanagement of the tertiary education financing; awarding of sponsorships to those who did not deserve it, exorbitant tuition charged by ETPs, suspicious allocation of students to tertiary institutions, payment of tuition and allowances, as well as accreditation of non-deserving ETPs and courses.
The country’s first female Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Peggy Serame is determined to get to the bottom of the rot as she places Tertiary Education Financing (TEF) on her watch.
This comes at a time when government is considering part sponsorships for some students as the government purse is bleeding due to poor repayment of loans, students who completed their studies with nothing to show for it amongst other things.
Botswana Qualifications Authority (BQA) as the accrediting body has had a good share of the backlash from students over non-accredited courses. While some courses were accredited, professional bodies do not recognise them. The authority has also had to suspend and expel employees who were found to have been bribed by ETPs.
The Ombudsman report of 2021 states that investigations in both the Department of Tertiary Education and Financing (DTEF), BQA and Civil Aviation Botswana show that there were serious lapses in the administration process of public institutions mandated to provide quality education and training in the country.
The Ombudsman’s investigations uncovered that DTEF paid full tuition fees to some institutions for all the courses the students were to be trained on in advance even though other courses were only to be undertaken after a student had successfully passed the preceding course.
Serame last year told Parliament that her ministry will be spearheading several reform measures to tertiary education financing to ensure its future sustainability. The measures, she said would include the immediate transfer of the TEF vote under DTEF at the Ministry of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MFED).
Serame said when delivering the Budget Speech that the transfer is aimed at ensuring that this vote is managed prudently for long-term sustainability.
“MFED has contracted an accounting firm to undertake a special audit on the Tertiary Education Financing activities for the last 10 financial years,” she said.
“The work entails an in-depth examination of the management of the tertiary education financing, awarding of sponsorships, reasonability of tuition fee levels charged by tertiary institutions, allocation of students to tertiary institutions and examination of issues around payment of tuition fees and allowances, and will be submitted by July 2022.”
In a follow-up interview, Serame said there is nothing much to share at this point as they are finalising contracts with the contracted organisation.