Is The TEP Killing Botswana's Tertiary Education System?

In April 2008,Botswana's parliament approved the Tertiary Education Policy (TEP),an initiative enacted to curb the country's high youth unemployment rate. Through the TEP,the country's government committed to sponsoring all students who have been enrolled in the country's registered public and private tertiary education institutions. The sponsorship covers all tuition fees to the institution the student has been enrolled into and a living allowance for the enrolled student.

Prior to the policy being ordained, secondary school graduates who were not accepted into public institutions had to pay for enrollment in private institutions which most of the populace could not afford.With the TEP,the government's tertiary education sponsorship initiative moved from sponsoring only students in government institutions to including those in private institutions,a move which saw a rise in both the country's transition rate and the number of private tertiary institutions in the country.Despite the growth of the aforementioned factors,because of poor implementation,the country continues to experience growing rates of youth unemployment despite the presence of a policy which was enacted to contain that exact problem.

After the enaction of the TEP,the government failed to set up an efficient regulatory body to monitor the quality of education offered by the mushrooming private tertiary institutions. This meant throughout the years,the government was investing money to sponsor students into these institutions without knowing if the quality of education they attained from these institutions was sufficient enough to make them suited for the workplace after graduation.The country's employers are pointing out that despite having the necessary academic qualifications,graduates are still not skilled enough to be efficient in the workplace because most of the institutions do not have sufficient facilities and well trained academic and research staff to produce graduates who can "do their job".

The absence of an efficient tertiary education regulatory body also means that the relevance of qualifications offered by private tertiary institutions cannot be monitored. Private institutions therefore continue to receive funds from the government in the form of tuition for enrolled students despite offering courses which are not in line with the demands of the country's different sectors and thus, graduates continue to acquire qualifications in fields where there are minimal to no employment opportunities.

The enaction of the policy also meant that the country's two most prestigious and elite tertiary institutions,the University of Botswana (UB) and the Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST),which are government owned, have to compete for government funding with private institutions. As a result of this competition for funds,these institutions' funds continue to dwindle which makes it hard for them to procure highly qualified staff which has seen the quality of the education they offer also dwindle away.

The tertiary education policy was enacted to improve and better access to tertiary education for Botswana's youth so as to reduce the high unemployment rates that they face but because of poor execution,it is letting down the same populace it was mandated to look out for. The country continues to spend vast amounts of its national budget on tertiary education financing but high rates of youth unemployment,which stood at 35.6% as of 2017,persist.

To ensure that the TEP efficiently benefits the country's youth,the country needs scrutinization of the policy to ensure that it realizes the mandate it was set out to achieve after its enaction in 2008. A regulatory body which will efficiently modulate private institutions as well as the overall quality of the country's tertiary education will go a long way in realizing that mandate.