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'In pursuit of a knowledge based economy’

SHARE   |   Wednesday, 04 December 2019   |   By Prof Otlogetswe Totolo
Prof OTLOGETSWE TOTOLO Prof OTLOGETSWE TOTOLO

I am honoured to be standing before you this morning on this auspicious occasion  to welcome you to the 2019 BIUST Graduation Ceremony, the fourth of its kind since the establishment of this University. Allow me to welcome you to this unique campus of the Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) as the host to the Class of 2019.  Although my task is quite simple, I will ensure that before I retire to my seat, you appreciate a few things about the distinct DNA of BIUST graduates, where they are and what they do to transform our communities.

Distinguished Guests, I am very proud of the BIUST Students, as they continue to raise the Botswana flag high. They always top in national and international competitions.  Just recently, a team of five engineering and technology students participated in the Makeathon competitions spearheaded by the German Mechanical Engineering Industry Association (VGMA) to develop a solar powered electric car prototype.  BIUST technical team played an instrumental role in the development of this prototype. This is a demonstration that we have the right technical skills and know-how to open investment avenues in Botswana and construct a solar powered electric car prototype. The team from BIUST had partnered with other tertiary institutions in the design and delivery of a mobile electric car. I accord them special recognition!  This prototype speaks volumes and has amplified our ambitions of being a global player in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.  Some of our graduating students played an important role to achieve this dream.

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Distinguished Guests Academic quality and the maintenance of high academic standards is the main currency of the University on which it builds its reputation and its long term future. Students who are key stakeholders have a legitimate expectation that their qualifications will be recognised and be held in high esteem in Botswana and internationally. In December 2018 the University was registered as a Higher Education Training Provider by the Botswana Qualifications Authroity (BQA). Substantial progress was made in preparing the academic programme portfolio which will pave the way for the registration of its programmes on the National Credit and Qualifications Framework (NCQF) and subsequently to receive recognition by the Engineering Registration Board (ERB) and international accreditation by the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA).

Equally important is to ensure the university’s academic programmes are aligned to the needs of the national economy as well as being able to make a unique contribution internationally.  Student employability is a key indicator of the relevance of the University’s academic programmes. The University undertook its second Graduate Destination Survey in November 2018 to establish the outcomes of the second cohort of students that had graduated at the second graduation ceremony held on February 18th 2018. Six months after graduation, 45% were employed; 19% were pursuing further studies, 2% were self-employed and 34% were actively seeking employment/further studies.

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The success of BIUST will ultimately depend on the formative experiences and quality of student life experiences that are provided throughout the campus.  During 2018/19, the University made progress in implementing the ‘Student Services Standards for Tertiary Education in Botswana’ (HRDC: 2017). The overall efficiency and effectiveness of the services provided to students was enhanced and the following key areas of student life have received particular attention: (1) Personal Counselling and Support; (2) Health and Wellness; (3) Residence Life; and (4) Special Needs Services.

Moving on to the theme for this graduation, which is dubbed ‘Harnessing Innovative technologies, entrepreneurship in pursuit of a knowledge based economy’,  I have deliberately invited the Guest Speaker, Dr. Tiro Mampane, the President and Founder of Boitekanelo College, with the sole purpose of injecting and motivating the Class of 2019 graduates with the panacea for business entrepreneurship to take the right steps towards transforming the economy from a resource-based to a knowledge-based economy. I trust he will propel our thinking to the audience that business entrepreneurship is the way to go towards actualizing sciences, engineering and technology in the new market frontiers. 

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Ladies and gentlemen, I want to encourage graduands to position themselves to create business ventures in 2020 and beyond, commercialise their technologies, create employment, and partner with strategic financiers for project financing in line with government’s development plans. Do not be left behind, you have what it takes.

I would also like to take this opportunity to introduce and congratulate our new Chairman of the BIUST Council, Mr. Balisi Bonyongo who was appointed in June this year. This is his first graduation ceremony at BIUST and he will, on behalf of our Chancellor, and the third President of the Republic of Botswana, His Excellency, Dr. Festus Gontebanye Mogae, confer degrees to 390 graduands in Bachelor of Sciences, Bachelor of Engineering, Masters and PhD from different academic disciplines as follows:

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a)     275 graduands in the Faculty of Engineering and Technology consisting of 272 Bachelor of Engineering and three Masters of Engineering; and

b)     115  graduands in the Faculty of Sciences, consisting of  105 Bachelor of Sciences , seven  Master of Sciences  and three Doctor of Philosophy.

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This is a tremendous growth compared to the previous years where:

1.     in Feb 2018/19 we graduated 267; being four Doctorates, 31 Masters and 232 Bachelor’s degrees;

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2.     in 2017/18, we graduated a total of 224 graduates; being; three doctorates, 63 Masters and 158 bachelors; and

3.     In the inaugural graduation of 2016/17, we graduated a total of 58 being; and 51 Bachelors and seven Masters.

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I stand proud to announce that the conferment of degrees to the Class of 2019, brings honour and renewed hope to Graduands and Parents as we inject a fresh breed of skills in industry who will join various sectors of the economy, being mining, water, engineering, telecommunications, finance, business and laboratory, ICT and banking industries in the quest to find solutions to community challenges!

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BIUST is forever indebted to the Botswana Government for the financial support. The Government has generously agreed to sponsor seven projects under the National Development Plan (NDP) 11. These being the construction of the new state of the art Library building, Student Centre, the new Dining Hall and the expansion of the two main Faculty classrooms and research laboratories, data centres, and the auditorium. These projects are taking shape to match the ever evolving demand for services as the University expands in pursuit of excellence and knowledge in the fourth industrial revolution being.

I would also like to thank the BIUST Council for their unwavering support to this institution. To the academic staff who produced these graduands, we are proud for your mentorship and guidance, as well as support staff for their administrative support, and the organising committee who worked tirelessly towards the success of this ceremony.

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This Graduation brings together local, regional and international experts and industry players in science, technology engineering and our respective parents and guardians under one roof, to witness the rewards of hard work and perseverance in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) driven institution. As we celebrate this success - we are not alone, fifteen (15) of our graduands will be bestowed excellence Awards from respective sponsors whom I sincerely welcome and salute for their enormous contribution. I would like to mention that Stanbic Bank, Debswana, Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority, Morupule Coal Mine and many more sponsors as highlighted in the Graduation Booklet have played an instrumental role in making this event a success.  This is a clear demonstration of university and industry partnership. This graduation would not have been a beckoning success without their financial contribution.

Parents, ladies and gentlemen, I also wish to share with you that BIUST through its research, is in the process of patenting two (2) research projects being the BIUST Farmhouse and the BIUST Smart house which are very relevant to monitoring livestock remotely and conserving energy respectively. We will in the near future announce the launch the BIUST soap made from waste oil and tallow from our Abattoir in Lobatse, as well as coal beneficiation from Morupule Coal Mine for asphalt and oil as by products.

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Other successes I want to celebrate openly alongside this graduation are Research Performance.

       Per Capita Output : 0.91

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       Weighted Citation Impact: 0.89

       Research publication per academic staff stands at  0.6 

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       Total External Research Funds Received from 1st April, to 31st March 2019.   BWP 4,190,838.90 (0.85%) of Total University Revenue (BWP489,932, 424.37).

We continue to partner and engage with various players in the academic and industry space to enhance our research efforts. To this end, I am delighted to announce that we are hosting the International Funders’ Conference to be held in May 2020, the first of its kind which will provide a platform for researchers to share their research objectives and achievements, as well as for the funders to share information on funding procedures and requirements.  We are hopeful this will intensify research and improve our research performance.

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BIUST is proud to play its role in not only equipping its students with knowledge and skills but also instil skills required of them to assume more proactive roles towards transforming Botswana’s economy from resource-based to knowledge-based and the one that embraces the positive potential of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

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*WELCOME REMARKS AT THE CLASS OF 2019 GRADUATION CEREMONY AT BIUST IN PALAPYE, BOTSWANA ON SATURDAY 30th NOV 2019

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