The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Education and Skills Development has expressed confidence that the University of Botswana has potential and capacity to help Botswana transform into a knowledge-based economy.
Chairperson of the committee, Hon. Wynter Mmolotsi, made the sentiments on behalf of the committee at the University of Botswana on July 28, 2021. The University hosted the Parliamentary Committee for a familiarization tour of its research and training facilities. The delegation comprised Members of Parliament, Hon. Kainagura Hikuama of Ngami, Hon Oabile Regoeng of Molepolole North and Hon Sam J. Brooks of Kgalagadi South.
Following the tour, Hon Mmolotsi applauded the University for discovering its potential and undertaking to assist the country to transform into a knowledge-based economy.
He said given the devastating impact of COVID-19 and consequently the urgency to transform Botswana into a knowledge-based economy, the University of Botswana should play a strategic role to help revitalize the economic.
Hon. Mmolotsi said their visit to the University of Botswana was an eye-opener. He said the Parliamentary Committee learnt a lot and was impressed by what they saw. As such, they felt confident that UB graduates were market ready and possessed the entrepreneurial edge to drive Botswana’s transformation agenda towards a knowledge economy.
Earlier on, Vice Chancellor, Professor David Norris, had informed the MPs that UB was going through a transitional period towards becoming a research-intensive institution of higher learning.
Professor Norris said as a national asset, UB was obliged to play a pivotal role in Botswana’s transformational agenda from a resource-based to a knowledge-based economy. Underpinning such transformation, observed Professor Norris, was the need for UB to turn its research into tangible products and services that could be commercialized to generate revenue for the country.
Professor Norris observed that some multi-national companies were hatched in universities, and have made significant contributions towards development of their countries through research that yielded solution to societal problems.
He added that in the long run, such companies managed to generate millions for their respective countries. “As an Institution we have the ability and capability to do the same for this country. The major thing is to reinvent ourselves as a university, become a university that fosters competitiveness and is research based,” said the Vice Chancellor.
Giving a vote of thanks, Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Professor Happy Siphambe, enumerated a number stakeholder engagements the University of Botswana was involved in to help in community development.
Professor Siphambe said through the Faculty of Social Sciences Department of Law offered free legal services to members of society who could not afford legal fees. Besides the legal clinic, UB also has a psychology clinic, which offers individuals psychosocial support and other services, observed Professor Siphambe.
Meanwhile, during the tour of the visit the MPs were taken to the Faculty of Medicine where they were shown a number of laboratories. They were also briefed on the training of medical students and shown the equipment they use for practical lessons. Dean of the Faculty, Professor Oathokwa Nkomazana said students also gained experience through attachment in various clinics and hospitals.
The MPs were further taken on a tour of Block 247 housing the Family and Consumer Science Workshop and were informed that the facility had the potential to add value to the country’s economy especially in the textile sector.
Another potential money-spinner for the knowledge economy was the Media Studies studio where the MPs were shown state of the art facilities comprising a television studio, online radio station as well as training and production equipment.
At the Faculty of Engineering and Technology the MPs were introduced to the ingenuity and high quality products that students create using various technologies to impact society.