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ODeL across borders

BOU%20Delegation%20with%20Unisa%27s%20DRS%20ManCom%20after%20the%20conclusion%20of%20their%20recent%20meeting%20at%20the%20Sunnyside%20Campus

BOU Delegation with Unisa's DRS ManCom after the conclusion of their recent meeting at the Sunnyside Campus

The management committee of the Directorate of Regional Services (DRS) recently received a delegation from the Botswana Open University (BOU). The delegation was on a benchmarking visit to Unisa. DRS ManCom comprises all regional directors as well as the Director of Regional Services.

The meeting between DRS ManCom and the BOU delegation took place at the Sunnyside Campus. It was organised by Unisa’s Strategic Partnership Division in collaboration with the Gauteng Region.

The visiting delegation asked a range of questions revolving around services offered by Unisa regions, such as how regions were dealing with issues involving the student representative council, nature of policies in place to enable regions to run their services, and whether applications and registrations were processed and finalised at regional level or central level.

The DRS ManCom, led by Professor Patrick Mafora, shared their knowledge, experiences and information on how Unisa provide support to students. Mafora informed the delegation about the changing profile of a typical Unisa student, e.g. the university is gradually experiencing an increase in the number of students who are straight from secondary school and also that some students want to be physically present on campus for the better part of the day (such as is the case with contact universities). This development poses challenges and opportunities for Unisa and the institution (through its regions) is expected to improve its approach and systems to deal with such changes.

Other than the DRS, the BOU delegation also visited other departments and directorates and interacted with various other environments within Unisa to benchmark on other services and operations in the following areas:

  • Admissions and student registration processes
  • Convocation/graduation processes and coordination
  • Recognition of prior learning
  • Set-up and operations of library
  • Policies, practices, and programmes
  • Student advisory services and services for students with special needs, e.g. students with disabilities
  • E-learning
  • Learner support

The Botswana Open University used to be called the Botswana College of Distance and Open Learning (BOCODOL). The Presidential Directive CAB 37 A of 2011 paved the way for BOCODOL’s transformation into an open university. Subsequently, the Botswana Open University Bill was presented to Parliament and ultimately passed on 20 July 2017. The country’s leader, President Ian Khama, consequently signed the Act into law.

The Botswana Open University was developed to meet the growing local demand for ODL tertiary level programmes. BOU offerings will encompass programmes from school equivalent, which comprises Junior Certificate (JC) and the Botswana General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE), to the vocational, management and professional programmes at certificate diploma, degrees and postgraduate levels.

The university has five campuses in Gaborone, Francistown, Palapye, Maun, and Kang. Each campus serves as an administrative support centre and provides learner support through the learning centres strategically located across the country.

*By Gilbert Mokwatedi