- Plans to launch a research fund - Syllabus change in offing at ministry of education - STEM subjects to provide at least 5.7% of GDP

The Ministries of Education and Skills Development, Communication, Knowledge and Research and Agriculture are working together to increase efforts in funding of research - the foundation of any knowledge based economy.

Minister of Communication, Knowledge and Research Thulaganyo Segokgo says the government’s efforts to transform Botswana into a Knowledge based economy are being heightened as they are joining hands with other ministries to make this a reality.

Segokgo says while the mandate of research, science, innovation and technology sits under his ministry it is the multiple ministries that conduct innovation and research.

Furthermore, Segokgo explains that government commits to resetting the national GDP by 2036 so that at least 5.7 per cent of Botswana’s GDP will be from Science, Technology, Engineering and Math's (STEM) subjects.

“From the next financial year there will be authorisation of a research fund,” Segokgo said, noting that the government will increase its support for research which will generate knowledge that will drive the economy.

Segokgo says they intend to bridge the knowledge divide and to leverage research technology and innovation to grow the economy of Botswana hence his ministry is focused on creating an enabling environment to improve communication knowledge and bring forth policies that avail government services which are infused in technology.

“The Botswana National research science technology and generation policy of 2012 commits to increase Botswana’s investment in research and development to two per cent of GDP,” Segokgo says.

Botswana is currently investing about 0.5 percent of GDP on research and this will change in April 2023 when the research fund begins.

Segokgo explains that his ministry is leading the SADC initiative of the SADC science week by commemorating science and technology innovation to raise awareness in this area as a lot of African countries invest very little into this area.

The Ministry of Communication, Knowledge and Research has been commemorating the month of science in August since 2015. There are a series of events that take place in this month to celebrate and raise awareness on science in Botswana.

For his part Minister of Agriculture Fidelis Molao said that his ministry has been involved in research as a department. The birth of a research fund will only amplify the efforts that the ministry has been conducting on an individual scale.

The minister said in the agricultural space it is pivotal for farmers to incorporate technology to advance their harvest. He says that challenges brought by climate change have made it difficult for traditional farming methods to thrive and this is an opportunity for the nation to elevate itself through research.

Molao adds that innovation brought by research can pull in more young people into the farming space. He says they are exhilarated about the launch of Botswana’s satellite system which will give them more insight into Botswana’s weather systems and therefore they can have more insight local factors that affect them and thus find out ways of working around them.

Minister of Education and Skills Development Dr. Douglas Letsholathebe added that the research fund will be an emblem for research to take place in Botswana as research helps people make informed decisions.

Letsholathebe notes that the satellite will be launched very soon and will be pivotal to the nation. He notes that a clear path for development of the human capital is necessary to attain visions set by the nation.

“Education and training represent one of the four fundamental pillars of a knowledge based economy,” said Letsholathebe adding that education is important to jobs and competiveness of a people.

In an interview with Botswana Guardian, Letsholathebe said his ministry is working towards ensuring infrastructure in schools is updated.

He says they are moving towards providing students with gadgets, because ebooks can help government save funds and re-channel it to education.

Letsholathebe says there will be a syllabus change in the foreseeable future emphasising more on multiple pathways and the ministry will work on the assessment strategy that they use. Furthermore, all learners will undergo early childhood for two years.