Stories

Government and business building skills in Botswana

From Chapter 4 of the African Transformation Report

Debswana Diamond Company, the world’s leading producer of gem diamonds, is owned in equal shares by the government of Botswana and the South African company DeBeers. Early on it built and ran primary schools at its Orapa and Jwaneng mines, targeting employee children but also benefiting those from the communities. Later it set up junior secondary schools in the two towns, working with the government. And through its Government Schools Development Program, launched in 2002, it promotes the quality of teaching in English, science, and mathematics.

For some fields, such as rigging and refrigeration mechanics, company trainees receive theoretical training at government-run centers and practical training at Debswana centers. Debswana set academic and technical standards for technical and vocational training before Botswana had an accreditation system—standards that later informed government standards, such as the national craft certificate, which Debswana then adopted.

Another collaborative effort is the Botswana Accountancy College, to provide qualified accountants for both Debswana and the ministry of finance and development planning, which joined in the venture along with the Botswana Institute of Accountants. Enrollments grew from 349 in 1996 to 2,355 in 2007, by which time the college was financially self-sufficient and the partners ended their support.

Then there is PEO Venture Capital Limited—to teach entrepreneurial skills and provide scholarships in mining and other fields in secondary and higher institutions. In one year the scholarships supported 232 students in Australia, 83 in Botswana, 58 in the United Kingdom, 30 in South Africa, and 1 each in Canada and the United States.

Source: ACET research.

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