Botswana: BUAN Adopts to New Normal

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Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BUAN) has a number of interventions targeted at complying with a new normal.

BUAN’s transformation coordinator, Dr Mataba Tapela, told a media briefing in Gaborone on June 23 that the COVID-19 pandemic had ushered in both merits and undesirable outcomes.

He said, due to a lockdown meant to curb spread of the pandemic, the BUAN academic calendar had to change, resulting in halting of tuitions, adding however, that necessary alterations had been made to make up for the time lost.

“As a means to prevent spread of the virus, the university introduced key platforms to enable people to clean their hands and sanitise regularly as advised by the health and wellness ministry, said Dr Tapela.

He further said the university management would arrange special counselling sessions for the psychological effects the pandemic might have on students and employees.

The COVID-19 pandemic, Dr Tapela said, had made alterations to the institution’s initial budgeting for this academic year and as such, funds were shifted to cover important activities regarding the pandemic.

He said on the merits, the pandemic had given them a chance to review their business processes in order to improve service delivery.

He also indicated that the pandemic had also prompted BUAN to join hands with other institutions such as National Development Bank and Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board to help in rolling out its services and ultimately achieve its goals of reinforcing food security in the nation.

Meanwhile, the director of academic and students services, Ms Isabella Magetse, said though the university calendar had been affected, management had come up with strategic measures to make up for lost time.

She said preparations showed that tuitions and practicals would resume and continue as initially planned.

Ms Magetse emphasised that the BUAN academic year was made up of two semesters, with each semester consisting of 14 weeks of tuition, one week of study break and two weeks of examinations.

She said the university was already in the middle of the last semester when the lockdown was imposed and they were forced to shut down, losing nine weeks of tuition.

However, she said plans to compensate for the loss had begun.

One of the problems, particularly concerning final year students, was abandoning of projects, which meant that monitoring at the fields of production was not done.

Ms Magetse indicated that students would be given extended times to complete their projects.

She also stated that efforts had been expended to maintain social distancing in classes and use of face masks; with recent developments being to install and administer the usage of a moodle platform to offer effective online learning and management systems.

For his part, manager of safety, health and environment, Mr Shadrack Josaya, said his office had to ensure that both students and staff observed all health protocols.

He added that his office had created a conducive environment for learning with recent developments being installation of extra hand washing basins and sanitiser dispensers in most buildings.

Moreover, he said, his office had followed instructions as furnished by the health and wellness ministry regarding the return to work guidelines.

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