Minister Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi

By John Churu, Gaborone, Botswana

The Botswana Minister of Education and Skills Development Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi says Africa should consider education and innovation very seriously if the continent was to grow human capital development.

Speaking during the opening ceremony at this year’s Innovation Africa summit, Venson-Moitoi said the concept of educating nations should be embedded in the continent without conditions attached. “Education on this continent is changing and growing far beyond our expectations as Africa. While many governments worry about funding for their institutions of learning and in most their budget leave a lot to be desire.” She also noted with regret that while most countries on the continent receive donor funding, most of the money coming from donors will always have strings attached thereby giving little recourses for education.

“In Botswana we have been spending up to 30 percent of the budget over the last five years on education. It is clear that you need to spend a sizeable amount on education. We need the human resource so that this will contribute in the future. “You can’t have education doing something for you if the facilities are not up to standard,” Moitoi told the delegates and ministers of ICT and education from all over Africa.

She said in this day and age, technology should lead the way for the continent to catch up with what the world is doing. “If you use the old Olivetti and everybody else is using new technology you are not going to move to far in education. Your facilities, and the quality of your training and teachers need to be right and the curriculum has to be researched while the teachers themselves need to be prepared to work with modern day standards.

She said most organisations and companies only think about schools when they want to recruit, but care less about where the manpower has been trained. “We only remember schools when we look for workers but not as places where our workers will come from. Schools are not buildings.”

She lamented the fact that there are cultures and sentiments in Africa that dictates who should go to school and who shouldn’t.

The two day Innovation conference has attracted ministers of education and ICT from all over Africa and the theme for this year’s summit is ‘Connecting Industry to government and civil society.” 

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