Local institutions of higher learning should merge courses that produce the same output of skills in order to make knowledge an essential commodity whilst making it global, the Minister of Tertiary Education Research, Science and Technology, Thapelo Olopeng reckons.
Speaking at the first ever University of Botswana (UB) long service awards that saw well over a thousand staff members awarded for their contribution to the growth of the university, Olopeng noted that there is a long road ahead as the country trudges on new and unchartered terrains. “My Ministry has a great task to deliver this economy from a resource based to a knowledge based economy. This task means we must commodify and globalize knowledge, as opposed to domesticating it,” he stated.
He said as an institution of higher learning, the country expects UB to develop futuristic and relevant programs that accommodate the needs of the industry. “Days are gone for the University of Botswana to be offering Humanities, Social Sciences and Education courses side by side, because the output of skills is the same,” he said, continuing that in merging the programs into one will allow those who want to go into teaching to take up post graduate courses.
“The majority of graduates on the streets today either have Humanities, Social Sciences or Education degrees,” he observed.
For his part UB Vice Chancellor, Prof David Norris said the university’s vision is to be a leading center of academic excellence with a mission that advocates for improving economic and social conditions of the nation. This he said, is expected to be done by providing excellence in the delivery of learning to ensure society is provided with talented, creative and confident graduates.
He further said the University seeks to advance knowledge and understanding through excellence in research and its application. “Importantly, and I need to reiterate this, we are now saying we need to be relevant to the society through actively contributing towards improving economic and social prosperity of our country,” he noted.
The Vice Chancellor explained that the feat will be achieve through improving the quality of the university’s research output, strengthening their linkages with stakeholders such as industry and government, transforming research findings into products and services that can be commercialized as well as expanding access and participation.
“I want to urge my colleagues that as the long service award ceremony comes and goes, we should stay focused and set our eyes on what I consider to be the biggest prize, namely,” he said addressing the over 1000 awardees who occupied the UB Indoor Sports Arena to whom he posed the question, “Why do people excel at their work in developed countries?”
He relayed that through experience, he observed that experience and education are important for productivity but not as critical as characteristics such as attitude and ethical conduct, the will to contribute positively to an organization, responsibility, love for one’s work and pessimism.
Prof Norris reckons that the problematic attitude of African workers works against the fact that the continent has abundant resources. “Work ethics, attitude and productivity are interrelated in the work environment. To maximize your employee's productivity, you need to foster an environment in which positive attitudes dominate and people develop strong work ethics,” he advises cautioning that bad attitude by one rotten apple has a ripple effect on other employees leading to significant decline in productivity.
He highlighted that organisations should adapt quickly to fast changes as they operate in a fast changing world and worried that employees with negative attitudes will obviously take time to adapt and implement changes in conformation with the changing business environment. He added that workers with positive attitudes toward their job and the company are more likely to make helpful suggestions or ideas that help the business grow.