Botho Exchange Students in University of Venda, South Africa
On the 20th of July Botho University (BU) sent its first batch of students outside the country to a partner university through the international exchange programme.
Five students from the Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Computing Programme were taken to Thohoyandou, a town in the Limpopo province of South Africa, where the University of Venda (Univen) is located. The exchange will last for one semester, which is roughly five months, and five students studying the same programme at Univen are attending BU during the same period.
The University of Venda is also hosting one of the staff in the Faculty of Computing of Botho University; as a visiting scholar during the same period.
"We want to expose BU students to international teaching and learning experiences," said International Development Officer Boitumelo Letsogo when questioned on what Botho University hopes to achieve through this programme.
"This is currently a global trend as higher education institutions do not train for local markets but for global markets. As such, employers prefer to hire graduates with some international experience and BU would like to position its graduates for the global market."
She added that the exchange is also intended to cultivate intercultural competencies and sensitivity among students, and to tap into the experience of the visiting students, as they bring diverse ideas to the classroom.
The student exchange programme, held in partnership with various universities from across the globe, is advertised to Botho University students. Students who meet the eligibility criteria then apply, and are interviewed by a joint team to judge their suitability for the programme.
Only students who, in the case of Univen, have attained an average of at least 65% in all modules attended prior to the date of application or, in the case of BU, attained a Grade Point Average of at least 2.75 are eligible for the student exchange.
Additional considerations for selection are cultural awareness and adaptability, interpersonal skills, and community engagement. Students are evaluated against these criteria qualitatively in an objective and transparent process.
Although the exchange programme is open for undergraduate and honours students at any year of their studies, the exchange is typically for third, fourth, final year or honours students. The final list of students must be endorsed by both the home and host university prior to the commencement of the exchange.
On the 17th of July BU held a send-off ceremony attended by the five students, their parents, and stakeholders from HRDC, BQA and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. The event was honoured by the presence of Dr. Patrick Molutsi, Acting CEO of HRDC.
Team Zebra Wins Gaborone Staff Sports Day
The Gaborone Staff Sports Day was held on the 4th of July 2015 at the BNYC Grounds. Team Zebra emerged victorious, winning five out of the twelve games, including Basketball, Egg race, Netball, Soccer, 100m race and Pool. Cheetah gave them a run for their money though, winning four games including Chess, Orange race, Volleyball and 4 by 100m race, emerging as the runner up. Rhino only won Tennis and there was a three-way tie for Cricket.
Training Partnership with CIPFA Launched
Botho University has entered a training partnership with the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA).
The CIPFA partnership with Botho University will allow accountancy students in Botswana to study for CIPFA's professional qualification in International Public Financial Management, the only accountancy qualification based upon International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS). Botho University will be the first institute in Botswana to be given the accredited tuition provider status by CIPFA.
The programme was launched at a ceremony held at the Botho University Gaborone campus on the 20th of August, 2015.
"It is important to note that this curriculum is especially important for all those dealing with accountants in the government, both local and central, and semi-government organisations in Botswana," remarked the keynote speaker of the event, Deputy Accountant General Mr. Othusitse Lebuletswe.
"The curriculum comes at a time when government bodies are making a switch of their accounting system from the erstwhile cash based to the more acceptable and recognised accrual based, and Botswana as a country is adopting International Public Sector Accounting Standards. Students undergoing this course will be properly equipped to implement and handle such a changeover."
Also in attendance were the Auditor General, the Deputy Auditor General, and the CIPFA Development Chairperson, as well as guests from the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, the Accountant General's Office and accounting bodies such as BICA.
"There is an urgent need for our economies in Africa to leapfrog and we can only do that by leveraging the capacity created within our country and continuing with global best practices, thus offering great value," said Vice-Chancellor Dr. Sheela Raja Ram during her welcoming remarks.
CIPFA, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, is the professional body for people in public finance. Our 14,000 members work throughout the public services, in national audit agencies, in major accountancy firms, and in other bodies where public money needs to be effectively and efficiently managed.
BU boasts a large and versatile Faculty of Accounting and Business which offers a wide range of accounting programmes such as the BSc Honours Degree in Accounting, professional qualifications such as ACCA, CIMA, BICA and the technician level qualification AAT. The institution currently has over 1200 students in these programmes and the faculty's academic team of almost 60 includes many doctorates and professional accountants with a wide range of industry and public sector experience.
BU Gaborone Career Fair 2015
Every year Botho University Gaborone campus hostsa career fair to allow both students and alumni to interact with potential employers and in August 20th 2015 it was hosted under the theme 'Striving towards a successful partnership in creating career opportunities'.
The fair was divided into two phases, with phase one consisting of the keynote address, a panel discussion, coaching on CV writing, and viewing of stalls from morning until afternoon, and Phase two being taken up by a guest lecture in the evening.
Pro-Vice-Chancellor overseeing Employability & Development Mrs. Priya Iyer started off the proceedings by welcoming the guests and introducing the dignitaries.
Member of Parliament Mr. Ndaba Gaolathe then took the stage as our keynote speaker of the day. He spoke about having a vision, which he describes as a crucial element of growth and development in life. He went on to address the issue of gaining knowledge, which he defined as building the skills in order to be relevant to the market as well as contribute to the nation. The last thing he spoke about was in regards to students building their character, which he described as a key component in attaining one's vision. In conclusion, he invited the students to work together and to approach life with a character of facing challenges head on and never giving up.
Then the panel discussion went underway. Four esteemed members of society discussed the topic: "To what extent is education and academia preparing Botswana's young people for Africa's opportunities and the skills that will be required to drive the economy in the various sectors of the industry?" The four we had were former commonwealth Deputy Secretary Mrs. Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba, Lansmore Managing Director Mr. Rupert Elliott, Member of Parliament and Media Specialist Dr. Phenyo Butale, and Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) Research and Development Director Ms. Dynah Solani. The panel discussion was facilitated by Dean of Office of Student, Research and Outreach Dr. Bathsheba Mbongwe.
After the vote of thanks given by Mrs.Priya Iyer, the dignitaries went on a tour of the 26 stalls that graced the career fair. The stalls were then open to students and alumni to tour, during which time there was also a training session on CV writing being conducted in a separate lecture theatre. Viewing of stalls went on until late afternoon and then in the evening Phakalane Estates Managing Director Mr. Lesang Magang and his wife delivered a rousing speech on entrepreneurship and knowing oneself.
Botho University Linkz ICT Challenge 2015
Aspiring innovators went head to head in battles of skill at the 2015 Botho University Linkz ICT Challenge on Friday the 18th 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. Limkokwing University of Creative Technology emerged as the overall best tertiary institution while Legae Academy was crowned the top secondary school.
As the only competition of its kind in Botswana, it tested the participating teams in a variety of games that included AdMAD, Paper Presentation, Debugging, Database Design, Web Design, IT Innovation, Animation, Info Security, Network Design, Photo Editing and Public Speaking. Initially focusing only on tertiary education institutions, the Botho University Linkz ICT Challenge eventually opened its doors to secondary schools in a bid to develop ICT skills at high school level and help students choose their career path within the ICT industry.
First Bokgeleke Arts & Culture Festival
On the 9th of October Botho University held the first ever Bokgeleke Arts & Culture Festival at the Gaborone campus.
The exciting day started with traditional games such as mmele, diketo, morabaraba, dibeke, skipping rope, and safe. Traditional food tasting also took place and the students from the institution's Hospitality Department students assisted with the food preparation.
After a few hours of this, the action moved into the auditorium for a talent show. The Guest of Honour was Gao Lemmenyane, Director of Maitisong, and during his keynote speech he urged students to try and find their God-given talent while they were pursuing their studies.
In this regard he related his personal story about how some 15 years ago, as a BSc student at the University of Botswana, he discovered the arts through the institution's travelling theatre group and came to realise that this was where his passion lies and not in the sciences.
Before the performances began there was a fashion show and all the models who took part were BU students wearing dresses that were designed by students at Gaborone Technical College (GTC).
The Director of Ceremonies was Gift Chabwe but the man at the forefront of the proceedings was Tebogo Matebesi, Founding Chairperson of the Festival Organising Committee. In addition to helping carry the weight of hosting duties, Matebesi brought the house down when he performed a rendition of the traditional Setswana song 'Sila Mosoko'.
Also on hand was Dr. Diane Bolden-Taylor, a visiting professor of music and vocal training from the University of Northern Colorado, USA, who spent a week training the BU choir for a performance at the event. While she was in the country, the American music academicalso conducted vocal training with some groups from the community.
Other memorable acts included the ballroom dancing club that delivered an exciting performance after only two weeks of being formed, the karate club which delivered demonstrations including a mock fight involving a BU staff member who holds a black belt in Karate, and a female singer who performed an enchanting medley of musicand poetry.
Judges on hand for the talent show included former Big Brother Africa house mate Mr. Kaone Ramontshonyana,popular local jazz singer Ms. Kearoma Rantao, and a local television actor who also happens to be a BU lecturer, Mr. Oscar Gobusamang.
The BU Drama Club was declared theBest Entertaining Actwhile the poetMs. Babedi Ponego emerged as the second Best Entertaining Act.
"The Festival was born out of the need to enrich students' lives by providing a platform that they can use to express themselves artistically and to grow through engagement in cultural activities," saysTebogo Matebesi, who originated the concept for the festival and saw its implementation through to completion.
He went on to express his joy that students turned up in large numbers for their own event; over 500 people attended and the plan is to stage the festival annually. "I would like to encourage everyone to be geared up for the next Bokgeleke Arts & Culture Festival as it is going to be bigger and better."
Botho receives the 2015 Diamond Arrow of the PMR Africa Awards
Botho University is the recipient of the 2015 PMR Africa Diamond Arrow Award, 1st overall equivalent to outstanding, in the category of higher education institutions in Botswana. The awards ceremony was held at the Phakalane Golf Estate Hotel Resort on 11th September, 2015 and Mr. Tebogo Matebesi, the Assistant Manager for Marketing, accepted the award on behalf of the university.
The PMR Africa awards are indicators of a company, department or institution's competencies. They are the end result of a research process whereby companies, departments, and institutions are nominated and rated by respondents against specific attributes or criteria. Nominees are rated based on respondents' perceptions with a strong focus on evaluating and measuring customer service and customer satisfaction.
Corporate Training Stakeholders’ Engagement Dinner
On the 14th of October 2015 the Corporate Training Department hosted a Corporate Training Stakeholder's Engagement Dinner. The aim was to bring together training coordinators and decision makers from both the public and private sectors to engage with the department on all issues affecting staff professional development and training.
The Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) was represented by its Director of Funding Ms. Victoria Damane and the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) Manager Ms. Lebogang Mpinang.
During his welcoming remarks, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Internationalisation and Communications Mr. Lucky Moahi described the journey that Botho University took from its establishment as a single faculty institution to a leading multidisciplinary high quality tertiary education provider.
The Manager of the Corporate Training department Mr. Billy Batlegang explained that the mandate of his department is to offer courses that enhance the professional capacity of persons who are already employed in order to improve service delivery and career development. He also stated that the department has over 200 short courses that run throughout the year, according to the training schedule, with durations ranging from one day to six months.
Ms. Damane explained that the Government of Botswana, through the approval of the Human Resources Development Council Act No 17 of 2013, established the HRDC with the objectives of providing policy advice on all matters of national human resources development; coordinating and promoting the implementation of the National Human Resource Development Strategy; preparing the National Human Resource Development Plans and advising on Tertiary Education Financing and Work-place learning.
She went on to explain that the HRDF is a training fund that has been established for skills development in the country. Damane further elaborated on how the HRDF operates; which companies are eligible to claim the levy; the training levy rates; claimable costs and other important factors. However, she lamented at the low rate of companies that claim the training levy, explaining that only 15 percent of eligible companies have been able to claim and that over BWP 600 million was not claimed in the last financial year. Damane encouraged attendees to acquaint themselves with the fund and to contact her office should they require any assistance with the training levy.
The event, which was attended by representatives of organisations such as Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC), Barloworld Motors, Department of Public Service Management, Local Government, Choppies and others, included a Q&A session during which attendees asked questions about the Corporate Training Department's short courses and the activities of the HRDF.
Botho University International Research Conference 2015
On the 5th and 6th of November 2015 Botho University held the Botho University International Research Conference (BUIRC) 2015.
Drawing delegates from parts of Africa, Europe and the United States, the conference was held under the broad theme of 'The future of higher education in a globalised society' and featured presentations on various topics including leadership, technology use, teaching and learning, as well as the accessibility and quality of higher education, among others.
"Clearly there is an absolute need to rethink Higher Education," Botho University Vice-Chancellor Dr Sheela Raja Ram said during her welcome remarks at the conference, highlighting spiralling costs, limited accessibility, high dropout rates and rising numbers of the 'educated unemployed' as indicators that tertiary instruction requires a renaissance.
"The timing could not be better for this conference as I know that all of us at Botho keep querying the purpose of what we do – we recognise the role we play and the need to find innovative, high quality solutions at low cost and that as a young institution we need to learn from the experience of others to find different solutions," said Dr Sheela Raja Ram.
This is the fourth annual conference of this kind Botho University has successfully hosted. The United States Embassy sponsored part of the conference costs in line with its commitment to supporting the growth of higher education in Africa and the US Ambassador to Botswana Earl. R. Miller was on hand for the conference opening.
Botho Hosts Industry Feedback Session
On the 26th of November 2015 Botho University (BU), through the Students and Alumni Affairs Department (SAAD), hosted an Industry Feedback Session. The objective of hosting the feedback session was to demonstrate gratitude to companies that have partnered with the SAAD Internships & Placement Unit for internships and placement over the past year.
SAAD also wanted to gain feedback on the students and alumni that these companies have interacted with in the past year as well as get recommendations on how the department can improve relations with these companies that will contribute towards improving the overall worth of the graduates produced by Botho University.
The companies that were targeted were companies that have hosted BGP Internship Students and other non-academic interns for a continued period before and companies that the Placement & Internships Unit is looking to create formal relationships with regarding all forms of internships and professional guidance. These forms include job shadowing, academic attachments, Graduate Internship Programs, and job readiness initiatives such as CV preps, industry update sessions and mock interviews.
BU Vice-Chancellor, Mrs Sheela Raja Ram, addressed the industry representatives and touched on the University's vision and the role of industry. She talked about the University's quality policy and highlighted to the participants that as BU the institution's aim is to produce graduates that can join the labour force as partners and not workers. She emphasised that the University aspired to form partnerships with industry in order to promote employability. She stressed that the feedback is critical to informing the university on how it can improve its service delivery.
Dr. Mbongwe, Dean of the Office of Student, Research and Outreach, facilitated discussions which revealed that industry feels that students are proactive but need a bit of improvement; can easily supervise themselves which is a good personality trait to have in the workplace; and are hard-working.
Industry representatives went on to provide a number of recommendations such as a need for students to improve on communications skills and to be IT certified so that they become competitive in the job market. It was also recommended that the university ensures that it incorporates soft skills as part of the students learning and to help give them a competitive advantage. The University needs programs such as "Ready to Work" that is run by Barclays to help replace idle time students may have, industry went on to say, as this also increases interaction with the job market to allow students to familiarise themselves with the work environment.
The essential skills that kept emerging during the discussions on focus areas for joint development of the graduates were communication skills; web development skills; presentation skills; problem solving skills; sustainable thinking; and self-development skills.