February 2, 2018
BITRI Chief Executive Officer, Professor Shedden Masupe and the Vice Chancellor, of the University of Botswana, Professor David Norris shaking hands after the signing of the MoU. .
Botswana Institute and Technology Research and Innovation (BITRI) and the University of Botswana (UB) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will pave way for the institutions to collaborate on issues of strategic importance to both institutions and the wider society. The University of Botswana was represented by Vice Chancellor, Professor David Norris while BITRI Chief Executive Officer, Professor Shedden Masupe signed on behalf of the institution.
In his remarks, VC Norris expressed optimism about the MoU.
“Generally, local institutions tends to look outside the country to seek partnerships, while there are capable partners locally. And, therefore, this is really exciting for us that we are entering into this agreement with BITRI. There are three key things that we will be collaborating on, and these are the things that in most cases, would set apart successful universities from the less successful ones. The first is, research collaboration and joint projects; societal challenges are very complex, and usually, they cannot be solved by one person or institution. So, when you collaborate and bring different expertise together, you are likely to bring effective solutions. The other issue, is graduate co-supervision, where we would have supervisors from UB and BITRI working together to supervise postgraduate students. We are breaking from the inclination of not promoting postgraduate education. There has been an over-emphasis on undergraduate education, and there is lot of competition in that arena. It is time for us to start promoting postgraduate education, and with co-supervision from Professors from BITRI and UB, we can achieve that goal. The third issue is student and staff exchange, which will help in capacity-building. We will have students being mentored by experts both institutions, therefore, enhance their skills palette. I am, therefore, very excited that we will be signing the MoU that enables the issues elaborated on,” said VC Norris.
For his part, BITRI Chief Executive Officer, Professor Shedden Masupe acknowledge the tremendous contribution that UB has played in the development of academia and the country’s socio-economic aspects.
“The signing of this MoU, is a formalization of a working relation that is already in progress on an operational level. To give you a context, there is a Ministerial strategic plan that speaks to resource sharing framework, and we are waiting for guidance on it being rolled out as a long term solution. As the resource pool of the country is limited, it is high time we look into issues of resource sharing. When we come to the second level regarding the MoU, the document will feed into the framework that the Ministry of Tertiary Education, Research Science and Technology is working on. Bringing it lower to where people are actually working, it is just piece of paper. There have been some collaborations prior to the conception of this MoU. We have been engaging in co-supervision on a voluntary-basis. And in regard to staff and student exchange; UB sends students to BITRI for industrial training and attachment for the duration of a semester. So, there is activity happening at that level. When it comes to research joint projects, we have a number of initiatives that are in progress. We recently submitted a joint grant proposal, and we are hopeful that it will succeed. We have had other project proposals that were submitted by researchers from both institutions. Normally, in addition to this type of MoU, we would also put in place project specific MoUs to govern specific projects. With that being said, we are excited about the prospects of this agreement,” explained Prof Masupe.
The ceremony was held at the UB Council Chamber, and amongst dignitaries present were BITRI Deputy Board Chairperson, Dr Ditshupo Maje, Director – Research and Partnerships, Dr Bathsheba Mbongwe, Legal Services Manager and Board Secretary, Ms Keamogetse Molefhe as well as UB Senior Management, including Deputy Vice Chancellors, Deans and Heads of Departments.