Botswana

From Vision to Transformation - Graduation 2008

Speaker & Speeches

Festus G. Mogae, President of the Republic of Botswana,

Acceptance speech at Limkokwing Botswana graduation ceremony, 19th January 2008


President

Director of ceremonies

Honorable ministers here present

Memaha’o ne

My friend, Mr. Jacob Nkate

President and founder of Limkokwing University, Professor Datuk Limkokwing

Members of the diplomatic corps here present

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen

The staff and students of Limkokwing University

Good afternoon!

Let me begin by thanking Limkokwing University for this great honour which I accept with pride and humility. I am both proud and humbled by the fact that by this honorary doctorate I am able to associate myself with a truly unique as well as widely respected academic institution. I’m also proud of the fact that the same institution has now become an integral part of our country’s landscape.

In recent years, Limkokwing University of Creative Technology has pioneered global university, in the process it has become an international benchmark in innovation and higher education.

Limkokwing international is underscored by the fact that it is now operating in three continents. In addition to Gaborone and its Malaysian campuses, it can be found in Beijing, Jakarta, London and Phnom Penh. I am further informed that the New York campus is schedules to open its doors this year.

By having three centres in three, and soon to be four, continents, Limkokwing has developed the capacity to deliver on its promise of providing its learners with a global classroom. Through the enabling power of the latest information and communication technologies each student and staff are able breach continents, drawing on each others knowledge and insights, knowledge and creativity. The global classroom also provides a path for one to study in several different countries while earning a degree.

Limkokwing’s cosmopolitan commitment is further reflected in collaboration with their wide, international consortium of partner universities. In addition to creating further opportunities for external study, these partnerships show the maintenance of world class standards. Representatives from various partner institutions sit on the university’s quality assurance board. With the establishment of the Gaborone campus, Botswana has thus become an important part of a much wider Limkokwing community while Limkokwing has in turn become an important in our own efforts to build a more educated and informed nation.

As I have noted on previous occasions, much of my own personal optimism about the future of our own country is derived from the steady progress we have made in ruling out educational opportunities. Over the past decade alone, the total enrolment in our public secondary schools has more than doubled from 100,262 in 1998 to 206,785 in 2007. We have achieved a 100% transition rate from primary to junior secondary education while the 2007 transition rate from junior to senior secondary was 63% with still more progressing to vocational stream training.

Given that additional centres of learning are in the pipeline, we can be confident of achieving our goal of over 100% transition to post-secondary education by 2015. I am further encouraged by the increasing number of students who are completing senior secondary school. Since 1998, the number of candidates passing form five examinations has tripled. The growth of secondary education has been paralleled by a rapid expansion of access to tertiary and technical education. While from 1997 to 2005, just over 170,000 students sat for the local form five exams, government sponsored nearly 70,000 for further tertiary level of studies.

Sustaining the large and growing number of students dependent on public resources is of course a serious challenge but it is a challenge we must face as the alternative would be to fall behind in today’s global and increasingly knowledge-based economy. Until recently, the burden of providing infrastructure as well as bursaries for tertiary education has vested almost solely on the shoulders on the government. Thankfully this is a responsibility that we are now sharing with reputable private sector institutions such as Limkokwing. As part of its mandate, the Tertiary Education Council has been responsible for registering private as well as public tertiary institutions, in the process creating additional opportunities for study in Botswana.

It was in this context that the Ministry of Education, working closely with the Tertiary Education Council and the private tertiary institutions themselves, adopted procedures for sponsoring students at local private tertiary education institutions. There are many advantages of increasing the placement of students in qualified local institutions. They include the growth and further improvement in the quality of the institutions themselves as well as the creation of domestic employment opportunities in what is a labour-intensive industry. We are further able to make significant savings which can be used to finance other developments. The educational progress I have describe dovetails with our broader commitment to develop the human and material infrastructure necessary for our country to progress as a knowledge-based economy.

While introduction of new technologies is a key factor in our ability to realise this vision, it will be even more crucial for us train our youth to be creative as well as highly skilled workers. Nowadays, there is a general consensus that the workers who are most in demand are those who had developed an ability to be flexible and yet work as a team. They should be versatile and creative as well as disciplined and highly skilled. I am therefore pleased to note that these are the same qualities that have been instilled in those who will be receiving their graduation scrolls today, or rather who have just received their scrolls today.

Ladies and gentlemen, with these so many words, let me now conclude by once more thanking Limkokwing University for the honour they have bestowed upon me.

I thank you.