This year marks 19 years since the University of Botswana Foundation (UBF) was established. Since then the Foundation has grown in leaps and bounds, benefiting more than 250 graduate students with over P5 million support to the scholarship project.
This year, a record 25 students were awarded the Foundation’s scholarships with another two benefiting from the Northern Trust First-in-the-Family Scholarship. The students received the scholarships in different faculties of Science, Business, Education, Social Sciences and Engineering and Technology.
The Northern Trust scholarships have so far benefited 18 disadvantaged Batswana students, with 14 graduating with MA in Economics and one with MBA at a cost of well over P1 million.
Speaking at the 2019 Scholarship Award Ceremony, Board of Trustees Chairman, Mr Satar Dada, said since its establishment in 2000 and from an initial P100 000 donation by Botswana Insurance Fund Management (BiFM), UBF has made huge strides in a number of areas.
These include a degree programme in tourism management through a P250 000 pledge from Cash Bazaar Holdings, a citizen and entrepreneurship project funded by Motor Centre through a business clinic as well as a P500 000 donation to establish the Business Place.
Further, Botswana Telecommunications Corporation has made commitment to sponsor research, human resource, resource sharing and promotion of excellence and scholarships to the tune of P1.4 million.
Mr Dada said other milestones include establishment and funding of the Okavango Research Institute (formerly Harry Oppenheimer Research Institute) in Maun through perhaps the most beneficial brand positioning project ever undertaken in the country by the mining magnate. There has also been construction of tented accommodation facilities at the research centre financed through a P450 000 donation from KMS Beverages Trust, among others.
However, Mr Dada observed that the greatest achievement by far was the establishment of the graduate scholarship in 2004. With a humble P1 million investment, he said the Foundation set out on a journey to build resources to meet the strategic objective to increase the number of full time graduate students at the University of Botswana.
As such, 10 scholarships were awarded during the 2004/5 academic year from interest earn on the fund while a further two were awarded from Books Botswana and BiFM contributions, said Mr Dada.
The Board of Trustee Chairman also observed that 10 years on, the scholarship fund had ensured that 68 students had graduated with a masters. Mr highlighted that the growth of the Fund was made possible through events such as the annual fundraising gala dinner and generous sponsorship of the event by some of the country’s major firms and businesses.
He said another major event was the Golf Day under the stewardship of Professor Hillary Masundire and in which BancABC supported the initiative by sponsoring the platinum category for many years.
Speaking at the same ceremony, Vice Chancellor, Professor David Norris, expressed desire to see an increased number of post graduate students to at least 40 per cent to make UB a research intensive institution by the year 2021. Professor Norris urged companies to sponsor their staff for post graduate studies at the UB. The University of Botswana Chancellor, Ms Linah Mohohlo, also attended the ceremony and awarded the two Northern Trust scholarships.