MOTE RESPONSE TO COVID19
12 Apr, 2020
The Minister of Tertiary Education Research Science and Technology Dr Douglas Letsholathebe highlights on Tertiary Education response to COVID-19:
- Closure of institutions on the 21st March 2020 came during the middle of the second semester of most institutions and some were drawing towards the closure of the academic year.
- Institutions expected to rearrange their academic calendars in order to enable learners to continue with their studies.
- As different learning programmes have their peculiarities, the interventions will have to be context specific.
- BQA shall play a major role in ensuring the protection of the interests of learners.
- There is no doubt that going forward, we should see more institutions investing in e-education to avoid disruption of learning.
- Ministry will work with all relevant stakeholders to ensure that there is a new intake of students in 2020.
- The process of receiving sponsorship application forms has been suspended and would resume once the situation goes back to normality.
- Ministry expects institutions to rearrange their academic years in order to cater for both new and continuing students depending on their capacities.
- Students will continue to receive their living allowance at the end of each month as is the norm.
- Ministry has already paid tuition fees for students it is sponsoring at the different tertiary education institutions.
Ministry’s Contribution to the national response;
- MoTE institutions like the UB, BIUST, Tonota College of Education, Francistown College of Technical and Vocational Education, and Oodi College of Applied Arts and Technology are being utilized by the Ministry of Health and Wellness to execute their interventions.
- Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) is producing soap and sanitizers which are being distributed to the public; and
- Botswana Institute for Technology Research and Innovation (BITRI) has been engaged by the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW) to develop an application that would allow citizens of Botswana to apply to leave homes to visit points of essential service during state of public emergency period;
- BITRI is working on producing both hand and surface sanitizers in collaboration with local partners;
- University of Botswana (UB) has started the process of producing hand sanitizers. The products are still to be submitted to Botswana Bureau of Standards for certification;
- UB, BIUST and BITRI are part of a local initiative to develop ventilators;
- BIUST has developed two drones that can be used to disinfect surfaces;
- UB specialist doctors and specialist trainees are providing care in different health facilities like the Princess Marina Hospital, Letsholathebe II Memorial Hospital, Mahalapye District Hospital and Sbrana Mental Hospital;
- The University of Botswana staff continue to provide of advisory services to the Government. UB professionals are providing advisory services to the different levels of COVID response organs such as the National Response Command Centre and other critical areas; and finally
- The Botswana Innovation Hub have disseminated information to the public, through the local media, on key innovations such as Classmate Online which can be used as part of e-education. The platform currently provides content such as syllabus, past examinations papers, education quizzes and video tutorials.
Minister Dr. Letsholathebe concluded his address by imploring Batswana to adhere to the health and safety measures given by the Ministry of Health and Wellness.