The Director of Pre-University Academic Services at Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST), Dr Haniso Motlhabane says there is a serious trend in decline of interest students in pursuing the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects.
He said only 2 000 on average or even less out of 40 000 Botswana General Certificate Examination Leavers (BGCSE) enrol in STEM related courses which is a very low figure.
Briefing the media on Friday, he said BIUST introduced STEM festival which will this year run in parallel with Research and Innovation Symposium (RAIS) meant to culminate interest in the STEM subjects. He indicated that STEM education is crucial is driving Botswana towards a Knowledge based economy shifting from an agrarian dominated economy as entailed in the Vision 2036 commitment. “Botswana‘s economy is heavily relying on natural resources while the rest of the world is gearing towards a knowledge based economy and 4th industrial revolution. However, it is critical that we as the country we put serious effort in growing STEM sector to achieve knowledge based economy status as per the desire,” he said.
Dr Motlhabaner said STEM festival is part of the BIUST corporate culture, which promotes excellence and innovation by gathering together learners, innovators, and research institutions. Furthermore, he anticipates the 2019 STEM festival to be bigger and better as it merged with research symposium adding that exhibition submission has been made from all corners of the world.
Amongst other countries that its scientists, researchers and students will exhibit include Austria, Oman, United Kingdom, Germany, South Africa and those from Botswana.
For his part, Professor Jens Andersen said over 500 exhibitors will grace the STEM and RAIS festival to be held under the theme “Research and Innovation for a Sustainable future.
He said the two platforms are beneficial as it stimulates bench marking exercises from the projects of countries which are above Botswana in terms of innovating for economic diversification.