As we aspire to become a more diversified knowledge based economy, Botswana has to provide several learning platforms through which individual citizens can continuously develop themselves.
It is becoming clearer that self-driven education may disclose weaknesses that one does not like to acknowledge and at the same time disclose self-strengths. Knowing these, is very essential to all who demand of life more than mediocrity and poverty. Self-learning requires persistence, which is an essential factor in the procedure of transmuting desire into its success equivalent. We read of several success stories of self-educated personalities who are todays’ multi-millionaires and have self-actualised.
It is wildly accepted that a knowledge based economy ought to have more than sufficient of its highly academically qualified personnel and multi-skilled labour force. In fact, those in the academic field will argue that a minimum of masters’ degree is pre-requisite for a country to content itself to a knowledge driven economy status. The qualification must be interdisciplinary such that it lays foundation to basic knowledge in different fields and should have value beyond meeting the requirements of a classroom. If such qualification is attained by a majority of the citizens so much that they acquire self-sustaining knowledge and skills, then we can proudly reflect our knowledge based economy status.
Botswana Open University (BOU) is taking a lead in ensuring that inclusive, equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities are availed. This is in support of the Sustainable Development Goal 4 as adopted in September 2015. BOU reaches out to the most remote places of this great nation. The system has been structured that all persons have equal and yet having many chances of pursuing an education at all levels. The University has both the secondary and tertiary sector. This makes it convenient for everybody to continuously educate themselves without having to relocate to other places which might be providing conventional educating structures. BOU system takes cognisant of peoples’ needs and values. The system appreciates the uniqueness of peoples’ schedules in their lives and self-driven learning is held in high regards.
The newly transformed university has come at the most opportune time, particularly when the education sector is undergoing a massive transformation through the education and training sector strategic plan (ETSSP). One notable transformation is the advent of the Botswana Teaching Council (BOTECO). The council will certainly demand a certain minimal professional development in a determined cycle from the practicing teachers and teacher trainers. Teaching licensing and progressions is most likely going to be subjected to personal commitment to self-professional development. BOU will certainly play a huge role in facilitating continuous professional development under the teaching profession. The fact that the university is digitalising most of its programs adds to the ambiance of quality and accessible learning.
Finland, a country that is arguably leading in the field of quality education world-wide, had to transform most of its colleges to universities in the 1970s. This was to up the appropriate qualifications and improve quality control and consistent standards which can be easily achieved under a university setup. Because of its decentralised system, learning in Finland has become so self-regulated that the pace is determined by an individual. Learning infrastructure is available in all corners of the country and quality teachers are availed everywhere. I believe that Botswana Open University is heading in a similar direction. They are trying to promote a culture of continuous self-upgrading in knowledge. Through such an initiative, Batswana will grow in knowledge and skills thereby equipping themselves for any future eventuality.
Access and Equity are the basis upon which the BOU is founded. The guiding principle is that all persons should be able to self-educate at all fronts. That opportunity must be accessed by everyone regardless of their social, economic or geographical status. My plea to fellow citizens is to encourage them to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity offered by BOU. Self-professional development does not only strategically position one for future opportunities, but carries with it that sense of self gratification. Being a game changer that you are, I wish to appreciate the Botswana Open University for taking up the challenge of providing guidance in our journey towards a knowledge based economy.