Sunday 22 April 2018

Educating for global employability

Educating for global employability
(MmegiOnline 07/02/13)

The challenge facing Botswana, like other countries of the South African Development Community (SADC) and globally, is how to reconcile massification (increased enrolments) of tertiary education with good quality education which is globally competitive and nationally relevant but the diaspora option to tertiary education creates a win-win situation in which governments invest in education knowing that the graduates can and will contribute to national development directly and indirectly writes *DR MORGEN CHAWAWA. Botswana's population of 1,8 000,000 is made up of relatively young people with approximately 57 percent being under 25 years and 20 percent in the 15 to 24 year age-range. According to the Botswana Guardian Online newspaper, November 16, 2012, Botswana Core Welfare Indicators Poverty Survey of 2009/2010 released in December 2011 indicates that of the total unemployment rate of 17.8 percent, 35 percent are young people. A total of 1520, 200 youth were surveyed by the 2010 Poverty Survey, in the 20-24 age group, 18, 651 were unemployed.

Generally in 2011, statistics show that 126, 349 youths were unemployed while 584, 251 were employed and 710, 600 economically employed. The primary cause of the current unemployment is according to some studies, structural unemployment, which has been precipitated by a mismatch between demand in the labour market and their skills.

Botswana Guardian Online November 19, 2012, reports that of the 17.8 percent unemployed people in Botswana, around 35 percent or some 250, 000 are young people. The Mmegi Online newspaper, November 16, 2012, reports that according to the PS in the Ministry of Education and Skills Development (MOESD), Grace Muzila the number of unemployed graduates in Botswana has reached the 3,000 mark.The growing complexity and rapid transformation of the world economy has placed tremendous demands on governments worldwide, higher education institutions and global labour market to prioritise the issue of employability on their development agendas and effective deployment of human resources for the global market.

Botswana has not been spared from this quagmire and in this study the author has captured and analysed some for the pertinent initiatives which have found their way into Botswana's socio-economic developmental strategies as the country grapples with the fierce and inescapable pressures of youth unemployment and offering relevant skills to enhance graduate employability.

Employability means individuals must enjoy mobility within the labour market to realise their potential through sustainable employment but for Botswana, it also means the government provides market-driven portable skills that will maximise contribution to its GDP. In this paper the primary discussion is centred on how Botswana has moved from a blueprint of its strategy called VISION 2016, a document and product of extensive nationwide consultations, which aims to build "An Educated and Informed Nation" and "A Prosperous, Productive and Innovative Society" into concrete initiatives and institutional transformation aimed at fulfilling its Vision, which included the introducing radical changes to its education system in order to provide the necessary skills to its students in preparation for local and global employability. The government has had to forge a partnership with the private sector, member states in the region and beyond to realise its goals.

Higher Education Institutions in Botswana are collaborating with internationally accredited academic institutions with the motive of enhancing the marketability of their graduates locally and globally. Through academic partnerships with institutions in Europe, Asia and USA they have produced international curricula, giving students opportunity to learn globally relevant concepts and skills. Currently Botswana's educational policies are predicated on the assumption that graduates from Botswana's colleges and universities will be seeking employment by and large locally. That is to a large extent true. But what are the drivers for making connections within the global economy and the world of higher education?

Who are the real winners and losers in the gobal economic labour market when we consider the emergence of the globalisation and is it unrealistic to expect anything other than a narrow strategic outlook in which countries seek to keep their own graduates, since they are the ones investing in their professional and academic prowess? As countries emerge from the world recession, keen to define their positions in a new-order global economy, higher education is under huge pressure from governments to drive economic growth and play a role in securing their positions.

As global markets develop rapidly, governments perceive that innovation and economic growth will be generated from networks of researchers, students and institutions. Those countries with the most attractive labour market conditions are attracting the best brains from all the corners of the world while those countries struggling to compete in terms of productivity and labour engagement conditions continue to face massive "brain drain".Parliament passed on April 11, 2008, a clear and distinct policy on tertiary education with defined goals and expected outcomes. Which seeks to increase access to tertiary education, improve quality, ensure the relevance of the programmes of study and that, through research and innovation, tertiary education in Botswana becomes a tool for economic diversification and general development. By the end of December 2008, the TEC had registered up to 31 tertiary institutions. The number of learners in the tertiary education sector studying in Botswana increased from around 22,000 in 2006 to around 47,000 in 2009.

The challenge facing Botswana, like other countries of the South African Development Community (SADC) and globally, is how to reconcile massification (increased enrolments) of tertiary education with good quality education which is globally competitive and nationally relevant. The Tertiary Education Council has, by registering institutions, started to tackle this global problem systematically, in a steady and focused manner
The Government is in the process of setting up the The Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) which will establish a better cohesion within the education sector, a better link between the supply side of HR development (education and training) with the demand side (work) and link both of these to the economic development strategy which inter-alia , includes diversifying and transforming the economy, attracting foreign investment and international entrepreneurs, ensuring a better strategic fit with citizen involvement, empowerment, immigration policies, skills requirements and needs, workforce productivity and managing the HR resource.

The key benefit is that tertiary education (which is concerned with developing an educated population) will be working hand in hand with skills development (developing the competencies of the workforce) and both will be part of a broader strategy that is responsible for employment and labour market planning.The dilemna that Botswana faces is true for most countries in Africa, that is the continuous loss of skilled manpower to developed nations or those that have the means to attract the best and the brightest for their own good."The emigration of African professionals to the West is one of the greatest obstacles to Africa's development." United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) "African governments have a great responsibility to ensure that brains remain in the continent; otherwise, in 25 years' time, Africa will be empty of brains."

Dr Lalla Ben Barka, Deputy Executive-Secretary, ECA. "By failing to offer greener pastures for its own intelligentsia, Africa is committing suicide." Professor Edward Ofori-Sarpong, Pro-Vice Chancellor, University of Ghana at Legon. The exodus of highly trained manpower from developing countries to industrialised nations is not a new phenomenon; however, the magnitude of the problem in Africa and its alarming increase presents a growing urgency for action as the consequences of brain drain threaten to stunt the overall development of the continent.Statistics on the brain drain from Africa are not readily available. According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), Africa has already lost one third of its human capital and is continuing to lose its skilled personnel at an increasing rate, with an estimated 20,000 doctors, university lecturers, engineers and other professionals leaving the continent annually since 1990.

There are currently over 300,000 highly qualified Africans in the Diaspora, 30,000 of which have PhDs.
At the same time, Africa spends US$4 billion per year (representing 35% of total official development aid to the continent) to employ Emigration of Skilled Africans to Industrialised Countries. Basically, African countries are funding the education of their nationals only to see them end up contributing to the growth of developed countries with little or no return on their investment. In Kenya, for example, it costs about US$40,000 to train a doctor and US$10,000-15,000 to educate a university student for four years. Causes of Brain Drain include Push Factors such as low and eroding wages and salaries, higher wages and income, unsatisfactory living conditions, lack of transport, housing, etc., under-utilization of qualified personnel; lack of satisfactory working conditions; low prospect of professional development; lack of research and other facilities, including support staff; inadequacy of research funds, lack of professional equipment and tools; social unrest, political conflicts and wars; declining quality of educational system; discrimination in appointments and promotions; lack of freedom and Pull factors such as higher standard of living; better working conditions; job and career opportunities and professional development; substantial funds for research; advanced technology, modern facilities; availability of experienced support staff; political stability; modern educational system; prestige of foreign training; meritocracy, transparency and intellectual freedom

What has been the impact of brain drain?
It reduces the already low quantity of skilled manpower available in African countries and needed for their development; reduces numbers of dynamic and innovative people, whether entrepreneurs or academics;increases dependence on foreign technical assistance; slows the transfer of technology and widens the gap between African and industrialised countries; negatively affects the continent's scientific output; money lost in income tax revenues and in potential contributions to gross domestic product. On the positve side, our graduates contribute new skills when they return; they remit funds which boost household welfare and support the balance of payments. Estimates suggest that Africans working abroad send home some US$45 billion a year.While the importance of remittances for developing countries is not disputed, it does not make up for the social costs and adverse effects on developing economies of the outflow of skilled personnel in the form of brain drain.What is the answer to Africa's "brain drain"? The Diaspora option (or, "virtual participation") must be given serious consideration. It encourages highly skilled expatriates to contribute their experience to the development of their country without necessarily physically relocating emerged in the early 1990s as a more realistic strategy to alleviate the consequences of brain drain.

There are expatriate knowledge networks in the world with the explicit purpose of inter- connecting the expatriates themselves and with their country of origin including the Association of Kenyans Abroad; the Moroccan Association of Researchers and Scholars Abroad; the Association of Nigerians Abroad; the South African Network of Skills Abroad; and, the Tunisian Scientific Consortium. But the African continent has witnessed a growing political will to formally include the Diaspora in its development efforts. Thus, in July 2001, the Organisation for African Unity adopted a resolution urging member States to "to develop strategies for utilising the scientific and technological know-how and skills of the African Diaspora" for the development of the continent. The AU Extraordinary Summit in February 2003 agreed to amend the organisation's charter to "encourage the full participation of the African Diaspora as an important part of the continent...."

The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) calls for the establishment of a reliable, continental database to determine the magnitude of the problem of brain drain and promote collaboration between Africans abroad and those at home. One of the priorities of NEPAD is to develop Africa's human resources and reverse the brain drain. Under NEPAD, African leaders explicitly call for the creation of the "necessary political, social and economic conditions that would serve as incentives to curb the brain drain...." The diaspora option creates a win-win situation in which governments invest in education knowing that the graduates will contribute to national development directly and indirectly.*Dr Morgen Chawawa is a Research Manager at Botho University

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