Tuesday, August 11, 2009

H.H. the Vice President Lt. Gen. Mompati S. Merafhe, MP at the Launch of the Result Improvement Initiative - a Corporate Social Responsibility Program

source: Republic of Botswana (10/8/09): TAUTONA TIMES no 20 of 2009
The Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President
"Democracy, Development, Dignity and Discipline"

B3) 7/8/09: Remarks by H.H. the Vice President Lt. Gen. Mompati S. Merafhe, MP at the Launch of the Result Improvement Initiative - a Corporate Social Responsibility Program of the Tati Nickel Mining Company, in Francistown:

[Salutations]...Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. I am immensely pleased to launch a private sector led initiative aimed at improving delivery in our education system. Given the high priority we have always placed on the education of our people it is very encouraging to learn that Tati Nickel Mining Company has sponsored an initiative that has the potential to turn around our education system for the better.

2. It is also noteworthy to mention that this initiative received an award for its remarkable contribution towards the achievement of the pillar of AN EDUCATED AND INFORMED NATION during the 2008 Vision 2016 awards. While Government has over the years strived to provide quality public education, there is always room for improvement especially when we consider that we are training for the needs of the modern economy. That is why innovative ideas such as this one are a welcome development.

3. Although as Government we have set ourselves high standards in the delivery of education, the participation and commitment from the sectors of the economy that are the users of the end product is a necessity. Today therefore marks a very special day because as much as it seals a partnership between the Ministry of Education and Skills Development and Tati Nickel Mining Company, it also opens the doorway of prospects for further cooperation. I say this because we continue to call on the private sector to take the lead in employment creation and growth of our economy.

4. As Government we remain committed to creating an enabling environment for the private sector. And we will do everything in our
power to encourage partnerships in all areas that have the potential to generate growth.

5. Director of Ceremonies, you will agree with me that an educated nation is indeed an informed one and that without education that is relevant to the economic realities prosperity remains a distant mirage. As Government we are fully aware that the future of this country rests with the youth. It is therefore our deliberate policy to equip them with the right skills so that they can meaningfully contribute to the growth and prosperity of this nation.

6. It is my firm belief that the future of this country will not be determined by the mineral wealth which we may have in abundance but the quality of the citizens we produce. This is what informs the commitment of this Government to education. That is why we continue to heavily subsidise the cost of provision of education to our citizens.

7. The proportion of the national budget allocated to the Ministry of Education and Skills Development bears testimony to this commitment. This financial year alone, for instance, the Ministry's budget accounts for 22% of the total national budget.

8. In April 2008 His Excellency the President stated the desire and commitment of the Government to make Botswana a centre of excellence in education. The decision to establish an Education Hub to coordinate efforts in this endeavour is now being implemented. Through the Hub, we aim to pursue excellence and quality education by establishing educational and training institutions that are comparable to the best in the world. It is important that we align our education to both the local and the global economy.

9. Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me therefore, to take this opportunity to congratulate the General Manager and staff of Tati Nickel Mining Company on developing an elaborate corporate social responsibility programme and for working tirelessly to ensure its implementation.

10. General Manager Sebetlela, I understand that this programme also extends to business development and job creation through support to manufacturing and production related enterprises. I want to commend you for developing all these programmes and for doing so after extensive consultations with the concerned schools and communities. There is no doubt that it will be easier to monitor implementation and impact because the beneficiaries are both responsible and accountable.

11. I am told your Company has to date spent close to seven million Pula in library improvement programmes for 13 junior and senior secondary schools in the area within a radius of 50 kilometres and turning 9 of these schools into centres of excellence in mathematics and science subjects. These programmes which are packaged in phases include library management and security systems, computers with internet connectivity, text books and computer software for mathematics and science.

12. In addition to these, two revolving trophies were introduced for the junior secondary schools in the mathematics and science category to encourage performance improvement in a competitive way.

13. The Results Improvement Initiative, as appropriately named, is a project designed to improve students' performance especially in mathematics and science subjects, while at the same time honing their research skill. With the programme it is expected that more students will be interested in taking mathematics and science subjects which are normally considered to be very difficult.

14. We all know that students who excel in these subjects are in a better position to pursue careers in technological and engineering related fields, the skills of which are still lacking in our economy.

15. As the mining sector relies more on skilled expatriates, the Tati Nickel Mining Company is not only supporting delivery of education, but our localisation effort. The main challenge for a developing economy as ours is to identify and subsequently realign secondary and tertiary education to areas which lack these requisite skills.

16. Our National Human Resources Development Strategy has in fact identified such areas of critical need in the economy that should guide training and skills development. Therefore it is important that all partners in education and skills development should work together to ensure that young Batswana are appropriately skilled. It is not in doubt that programmes such as the ones we are launching today provide the bedrock upon which we can build a well resourced and skilled workforce. Therefore commitment from both the schools and students who use these programmes is necessary for success.

17. I understand the programmes require diligence and commitment, yet work is made easier and enjoyable than before while objectives are achieved with efficiency. To the teachers, let me urge you to prove yourselves relevant by avoiding a situation where students will think that being empowered to work more independently means they do not need their teachers. Use the opportunity and support that comes with the initiative to improve your own skills and capabilities in information technology.

18. Director of Ceremonies, I am told the selection criterion to qualify for the programme was very transparent and that every school in the area had the opportunity to bid for support. Those schools that did not make it should therefore not be discouraged, but consider their not having been selected for the project as a challenge. Let me hasten to say that with the growing use of ICT and especially the internet, schools now face a daunting challenge of ensuring that students are not exposed to the dangers of the world of internet and abuse. I have no doubt that we are all alive to the dangers of internet abuse and cyber crime in general and that this is a challenge that we will commit to addressing before it erodes the moral fibre of our society.

19. Bagaetsho, before I conclude, let me point out that our schools throughout the country face various challenges such as maintenance of property and discipline of the students. I therefore want to implore the private sector, other development partners and communities to identify opportunities where they can make a difference in our schools and education system. Cooperation and partnership between parents and teachers is an important ingredient for success of such programmes. Let us therefore share the responsibility in the education of our children.

20. With these remarks I want to once again challenge all partners in education to do their part in ensuring that we achieve our vision of An Educated and Informed Nation by 2016. I thank you.

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