Congratulations to the winners of Linkz ICT challenge 2014
Aspiring innovators went head to head in battles of skill at the 2014 Botho University Linkz ICT Challenge on Friday the 19th of September. Tertiary and secondary students from schools across the country descended upon the Gaborone Botho University Campus to prove their mettle in all things technological. Botho University Gaborone emerged as the overall best tertiary institution while Gaborone Secondary School was crowned the top secondary school.
Botho Accounting & Finance Faculty Trains Local Vendors
By Lawrence Manyudza
On Saturday 21 September the Accounting and Finance Faculty at Botho University’s Gaborone campus held a training session for local vendors as part of a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative. A number of enthusiastic small business owners were on hand for the vibrant training which began at 1000hrs. After diving into the appealing refreshments, the program for the day commenced with participants highlighting the major challenges they are encountering in their business activities. Of major concern was the failure to realize profits, limited capital base and financial exclusion. The training facilitators discovered that most of the participants possessed only a marginal knowledge of pricing their products and determining profitability.
The project is being facilitated by the Faculty of Accounting and Finance and is spearheaded by a committee of five passionate lecturers. It will see about 20 vendors being assisted in Bookkeeping, Business Communication, Business Plan Writing, Sales and Marketing for small businesses. Entrepreneurship is business so the owner of any business needs to be equipped with fundamental entrepreneurial skills. This project aims to augment the government initiatives to create supportive infrastructure for entrepreneurs in Botswana. Such support needs to be complemented by appropriate training so that the scarce funds are received by the beneficiaries with the right skills.
The faculty plans to undertake other projects in the near future in an effort to give back to the community.
BUIRC 2014 Highlights The Power of E-Learning to Transform Higher Education
On the 30th and 31st of October Botho University hosted the Botho University International Research Conference (BUIRC) 2014. This 3rd annual research conference turned the spotlight on the relationship between tertiary education and communication technology with the theme ‘Transforming Higher Education Through E-Learning’.
The inspiration to hold a conference under this theme arose from the fact that over the last fifteen years, the world has witnessed a dramatic and irreversible penetration of technology as an effective and efficient tool for building student‐centred education. E‐Learning represents an exciting set of tools and innovations that have contributed immensely to the massification of education and carries tremendous potential in terms of its impact on current institutional practices. As governments, employers, students and academics grapple with the pressures of making education a “right” for all their citizens, the role and place of E‐Learning in education and the workplace has raised its profile, giving it pre‐eminence in the field of education.
In her welcome remarks Vice-Chancellor Dr. Sheela Raja Ram highlighted that gross tertiary enrolment in Africa is well below the worldwide average and thus E-learning has emerged as an opportunity to improve accessibility and affordability of education across the African continent. Keynote speaker Dr. Patrick Molutsi, the Acting CEO of the Human Resource Development Council (HRDC), emphasized this point by highlighting that tertiary enrolment in Botswana is well below that of other middle-income countries. He added that it is for this reason that HRDC welcomes any initiative that can increase access to education without increasing the cost of accessing education, such as E-learning.
As the multi-disciplinary university with the largest computing faculty in Botswana Botho was able to demonstrate its leading role in the field of ICT research as several of its academics presented papers at the conference that added different layers to the timely discussions on E-learning and higher education.
Some of the memorable presentations included a benefits versus costs analysis of E-learning as relating to sustainability, an exploration of the impact of repeated exposure to E-learning technology for both students and lecturers and a case study demonstrating how E-technology can be used to bridge the digital divide by providing access to high quality education to people located in remote areas.
The event attracted 380 delegates and 20 presentations from 8 different countries and also included a Microsoft Technology Enriched Instruction Workshop. During these workshops, which are conducted worldwide, participants gain hands-on experience with E-learning tools and insight into how they might change or enhance course activities and assignments by integrating technology into their instruction.
Miss Botho University Francistown 2014 Crowned
On the 31st of October 2014, multitudes of excited students descended upon the Institute of Health Sciences (IHS) auditorium to witness beautiful young ladies battling it out for the coveted title of Miss Botho University Francistown campus.
The show did not start as early as anticipated, but by half past eight that evening the program was underway as the ladies took to the stage. The theme of the pageant was “A Responsible Tertiary Student” and the ladies were expected to carry themselves as and explain what it means to be a responsible student. At the end of the night, the judges crowned Banabotlhe Olefile as their Queen, with Charlotte Siya as the 1st Princess and Angel as the 2nd Princess. As part of their reign, the Queen and her Princesses are tasked with developing a project related to making a positive change in the lifestyles of tertiary students, which they will have to complete before they hand in their crowns next year.
In an interview later on, Banabotlhe Olefile expressed surprise at her achievement, saying she really did not expect to win and that when her name was called she could not believe it. She went on to say she has noticed that most students do not really care about school and are more interested in the living allowance they receive from the government.
With the sponsorship from Adansonia Hotel and Tandurei Restaurant for the top 3, the winners couldn’t have been happier. The night was graced with entertainment from local DJs Da Drat and K.U.D; there were also performers from Botho University including Insane Musik Gang, Fintos, Vj Munk and Dj Nix and the Award winning performer Casper The Golden Voice.
Botho University Hosts Excellence Awards and Christmas Party
On the 12th of December all three campuses of Botho University simultaneously hosted the institution’s annual award ceremony to recognize the performance of exceptional university staff. The honours bestowed on deserving individuals on the night included the Teaching Excellence Awards, Service Excellence Awards, Research Excellence Awards and Long Service Awards.
The ceremony was combined with Botho University’s Christmas Party and in her heartfelt opening remarks at the Gaborone Campus, Vice-Chancellor Dr. Sheela Raja Ram recalled that 12 years ago the institution’s Christmas party was held at her house in Gaborone and included roughly 40 people, many of whom had driven from Francistown to attend. “I look out at this crowd now and I think ‘Wow we’ve really come a long way,’” she enthused.
Botho University Hosts Botho ExpoTees 2015
On the 30th of January Botho University (BU) showcased the creative achievements of its finest IT students at the Botho ExpoTees 2015 event. ExpoTees is an annual event BU has adopted from its partner institution, Teesside University, UK, that gives final year IT students the opportunity to exhibit their innovative final projects to industry captains and potential employers.
This year, 42 students exhibited projects ranging from mobile applications and online systems to standalone or distributed systems and game applications. Some of the inventive products that scooped the top prizes included a network to enable automated vehicle parking assistance at shopping malls, a system to automate the census enumeration for Statistics Botswana, and a mail delivery notification system for Botswana Post.
Dignitaries in attendance included Honorable Minister of Infrastructure Science and Technology Nonofo Molefhi and Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) Acting CEO Dr. Patrick Molutsi, along with CEOs, IT managers and HR managers from various companies.
Botho University celebrates World Telecommunications DayBotho University joined dignitaries including his honour the Vice President of Botswana, Slumber Tsogwane in commemorating World Telecommunications and Information Society Day (WTSID) in May. This year, Botswana�s main event was held on May 17th in Mohembo in the Okavango region. Joining Vice President Tsogwane in attendance at the event was Minister of Transport and Communications Kitso Mokaila as well as other dignitaries.
Botho University (BU) kickstarted the event by training a number of participants from Mohembo and Shakawe in ICT skills. The 12 participants who attended the week long program where mostly teachers from brigades, primary and secondary schools around Shakawe. They were awarded certificates on the 17th of May 2018. BU also took part in the Girls in ICT, held on the 15th of May, a Kgotla meeting addressed by Honourable Minister Mokaila, and the Minister�s lunch on Wednesday 16th. Amongst other key players, Botho University has continued to be an integral stakeholder in this event. The university is committed to giving back to the community, as part of its corporate and social responsibility, with the continued participation in the WTSID.
The WTSID commemoration is an annual event, usually held on the 17th of May, which celebrates the International Telecommunications Union�s establishment in 1865.
BU Francistown Hosts a Memorable Open Day
On Wednesday, February 4, 2015Botho University Francistown campus held its open day for all students. The Office of Student, Research and Outreach (OSRO) found it fit to host this event to give the students an insight on services provided by the office and also give them an opportunity to discusscritical issues that affect their student life with the Centre management.
Theone day event featured a number of activities that were aimed at promoting dialogue between staff and students. Over 350 students attended the event and were able to speak with the Centre management to learn more about the new campus, as well as the programmes and services offered by the university.Students were also addressed by Heads of various departments includingManagement Information Systems(MIS), Admissions, Library and Technical departments to share information on critical issues that students tend to overlook during their stay in the university.When welcoming the students, the Admin Manager for Francistown campus Ms. Sylvia Buzwani highlighted that OSRO aims to make students' lives more interesting, engaging and vibrant. "We are aware that a happy student will culminate into happy alumni or graduates and the overall aim is to see our graduates being more employable, possessing all traits as espoused by our BGP," she said.
Ms. Sylvia Buzwaniwent on to share that the university has been having student services and career services working as separate entities falling under different Directorates. However, in 2014 the management decided to merge all student serving non-academic departments under one roof headed by the new Dean Dr. Bathsheba Mbongwe who was formerly the Director on National Internship and later on became the National Coordinator for TireloSechaba.The new Office under DrMbongwe was then given the name Office of Student, Research and Outreach (OSRO).This office will primarily serve students along with other stakeholders.
During his brief remarks, Centre manager Mr. Joseph Gwekwerere shared that the new Francistown campus is at an advanced stage and the first group of students is expected to move around July, 2015. He also shared that BU is in the process of opening a new campus in Lesotho. "We are the first home grown private university to open a campus outside Botswana," he said.The event attendees also had the opportunity to tourthe stalls displayed by different sporting and non-sporting codes to encourage student participation in sports and other campus based clubs. It was a memorable event.
Botho University Attends Higher Education Fair in Lesotho
On the 25th to the 26th of February Lesotho held its 2nd annual Higher Education Fair at Lehakoe Multi-purpose sports hall and Botho University staff members were on hand to announce the launch of BU in Lesotho to the public and begin recruiting students.
The aim of this annual conference is to facilitate interaction between secondary school students, especially LGCSE school leavers, and tertiary institutions both within Lesotho and regionally.Various institutions from Lesotho, South Africa and Botswana were present for this year's edition of the fair.
Eight Botho University staff members attended the event, including Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Internationalisation and Communications Ravi Srinivasan and Dean of BU Lesotho Campus Professor Subbaram Ranganathan.The BU staff members engaged in counselling students on programme choices and also assisted them with the application process.
"The students were very warm and excited by the presence of BU at the fair," saidBotho University Assistant Marketing ManagerTebogo Matebesi, who was part of the BU delegation present at the event."Our stall was packed all the time. Students were asking questions left and right and were grateful for the enrolment opportunities."
The Kingdom of Lesotho's Minister of Education and Training Hon. 'Makabelo Mosothoane was also on hand for the event and visited the BU stall.
BU Lesotho is expected to commence its inaugural semester with anintake of between 750 and 1000 students in July this year at the institution's premises housed in Maseru Mall.
Botho TET Talks Emphasise Inspiration and Student Engagement in Teaching
On the 28th of February Botho University's Teaching Excellence Department hosted an enlightening symposium featuring lectures delivered by two higher education specialists from South African universities. Botho Teaching Excellence Talks (TET) is a creative platform for interactive dialogue among academics on issues that bear on the quality of teaching and learning.
For this edition of the forum Professor Nqambozi Gawe, a former Deputy VC of the Durban University of Technology, delivered a presentation under the title 'Teaching excellence and transformative learning.' Gawe underscored the crucial teaching goal of igniting a passion for learning in students.
She explained that it is important for lecturers not to just show off their knowledge to learners but also to ignite a passion for learning the subject in them. Gawe recalls a learning environment during her time at university in which learners were expected to parrot what they had read in textbooks or risk failing tests as individualised understanding of concepts was not accepted. Now, however, she notes the trend is rightfully moving towards more student involvement and flexibility in the learning process.
Her message was that students need to be given the freedom to grow outside the textbook and what the lecturer has taught, a goal which can be best achieved through 'inspirational teaching' which is describedas being "transformational in the sense that it has sustained positive impact on student learning."
She went on to share that the literature on teaching excellence identifies four overarching themes:Knowledge and passion for the subject; Understanding learning and knowledge; Constructive and challenging learning environment; and Students as individuals, partners and colleagues."
Meanwhile, Ms. Lindi Tlou, the Head of the Quality Unit at the University of Pretoria, delivered a presentation under the title 'Strategies for promoting excellent teaching practices through student engagement in quality assurance processes.'
Tlou placed particular emphasis on achieving a high level of student satisfaction and an exceptional student experience as criteria for excellence in academic institutions. Tlou discussed various models which attempt to define the role of students in quality assurance and identified the 'Student Co-constructors Approach' as her favoured model; this approach encourages students to actively participate and co-construct quality assurance policies and practices.
She says that the key benefits of adopting this approach are that it allows students to objectively assess the quality of the education they are receiving as well as the long-term value of the overall learning experience afforded by the particular institution. Ideally this transforms students from passive receivers of information to partners actively participating in constructing and shaping the quality of education. Inculcating this sense of responsibility for learning outcomes in the students themselves can only make it more likely that the students will make the most out of their time in academic institutions.
The ensuing discussions were lively and addressed the role of students in achieving higher education excellence from various perspectives, with many important factors highlighted such as the job satisfaction of lecturers and the overall learning culture of an institution.