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The Solar Energy Curriculum Development (SECD) programme seeks to establish training standards and curricula for the two main solar energy technologies used in Botswana.
The technologies are solar water heating and solar photovoltaic electricity. Speaking at the launch of the programme, Assistant Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, Mr Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri, said it was intended to provide an alternative approach moving from supply driven to demand driven provision of vocational training.
The initiative is in line with the ideals of the National Policy on Vocational Education and Training (NPVET) which calls for increased access to vocational training programmes as well to develop programmes that target the job market.
Mr Matlhabaphiri said skills development had become a topical issue in Botswana, particularly with major projects emerging around Botswana for diversification and growth of the economy.
He said the competitiveness and sustainability of these projects would depend on the quality and availability of skilled labour.
The efforts we are witnessing today are in line with the aspirations of the Vision 2016 pillars of a prosperous, productive and innovative nation and an educated informed nation, he said.
Mr Matlhabaphiri said the solar energy curriculum development programme would demonstrate how skills could be used to improve the product quality and efficiency of services.
Access to a skilled workforce will benefit the industry by reducing their training overheads and improving the quality and efficiency of their services.
It will also improve the capacity of the country to provide the youth with gainful employment in an important sector that helps to conserve non-renewable energy.
The trainers from brigades and technical colleges and council artisans who participated and excelled in earlier short workshops will be trained in the delivery of artisan training in solar water heater and solar photovoltatic electricity systems.
Mr Matlhabaphiri indicated that solar energy becomes a cost- effective alternative when the cost of supplying electricity to remote locations is expensive.
He also said the programme came at the right time coinciding with new market activities, especially in the solar photovoltaic sector geared at alleviating impending energy shortages.
The development of solar energy unit standards for both solar water heater and solar photovoltaic electricity, now being developed under the programme would support the implementation of the Botswana National Vocational Qualification Framework, which was being overseen by Botswana Training Authority.
Mr Matlhabaphiri said the overall goal of the programme was to establish appropriate technical capacity to ensure that solar energy systems function properly during their intended lifespan and as a result encourage and facilitate wide spread use in Botswana.
Additional information: Botswana Daily News online
News date: 30/08/2007