Botswana: Govt Pushes for Change Through Research, Innovation

Palapye — The Assistant Minister for Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, Mr Moiseraela Goya, has commended BIUST for demonstrating the country's capabilities as a potential partner in Africa's education and knowledge industry.

He was officiating at the beginning of a Database of the African Theses and Dissertations (DATA-R) Training Workshop in Palapye on June 25.

Mr Goya said the workshop was a reflection of the national leadership's strong commitment to BIUST's quest to drive change through research and innovation.

The workshop was hosted by BIUST, in partnership with the Association of African Universities (AAU).

He said the marriage was not only bringing together the two entities, but rather a coming together of the 400 members of the AAU.

He indicated that the fourth industrial revolution prompted nations to revisit their infrastructure, policies, systems, expertise and perception towards research data management.

"There is a global call to design equitable foundations for open knowledge, a call for open access to full text of scholarly information," said Mr Goya.

Therefore, he said the call directly challenges librarians and information workers to stand up to their universal call and commit to bridging the knowledge gap, adding that libraries have to be visible in creating an inclusive information society.

The assistant minister appealed to workshop participants, who were representatives from libraries, researchers from local tertiary institutions and other AAU members, that as they laboured in making research from African institutions more accessible to the research community on the continent and beyond, "please do not forget to instil a sense of inquisitive enquiry, especially in the young learners."

He added that it would be regrettable if the repository created by the researchers continues to be inaccessible or even meaningless to local communities.

Mr Goya said leaders yearned for meaningful strategies that would enable communities to access information for their socio economic growth.

He said the created repositories must be lively and "not be like old school libraries with collection of books that are well kept but not meaningfully used" but they must be visible as well as be active social agents in the knowledge economy.

Mr Goya said Botswana aimed at improving lives of its people through transparency.

In pursuit of the drive towards open science and research data management within the broader economic agenda, he said government has among others projects, committed to developing a knowledge based economy as a key in developing economic diversification.

Mr Goya also indicated that one of the proposed projects was establishment of a research fund to enable local researchers to be members of the global community in terms of knowledge creation.

He said one of the developments was, "encouraging researchers, especially in institutions of higher learning, to import and export knowledge through international conferences and workshops."

For his part, BIUST vice chancellor, Professor Otlogetswe Totolo, noted that Africa must strive to be part of a global movement transiting to a knowledge based economy.

Professor Totolo said institutions of higher learning, universities and research institutions must collaborate and bring together participants of the knowledge society from all spheres of the economy.

Therefore, he said the workshop brought together participants from Africa to share knowledge and best practices in research data management.

He appreciated the gathering for offering necessary skills needed for development of research data management platforms that would increase Botswana's research output visibility.

Presenting of behalf of the secretary general of AAU, senior information technology officer at AAU, Mr Abednego Corletey said even though libraries were moving from physical and tangible spaces to soft or electronic spaces, it was regrettable to observe that African libraries do not seem to respond quickly enough to the evolution. Mr Corletey said exorbitant costs of software, lack of technical expertise and infrastructure were observed as some of the contributing factors.

Despite the shortcoming, he said higher education institutions have no choice, but to adapt and integrate emerging technologies as methods for creating flexible, higher quality learning and training.

He said AAU was committed and dedicated to continually provide platforms for its members to collaborate effectively with other higher education stakeholders, adding that the collaboration will improve the quality and relevance of education on the African continent.

Source : BOPA

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