BU Vice Chancellor’s Address

Hello to all my co-workers at Botho University in Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Eswatini,

These are indeed difficult times not only for all of us at Botho University but also for all of humanity. Thinking positively, let us pray that this humanitarian health crisis makes all of us and the world more resilient and stronger. It will pass, it has to, but until then all we can do is to follow the guidelines to stay safe. I know that you have been receiving and will continue to receive numerous Botho University communications with regard to your own safety and the new working conditions in respect of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown scenarios in all the countries we operate. I will not repeat what is mentioned in these communications, except to urge you to please pay attention to the content of these messages as your co-operation and earnest involvement is important in ensuring continuity of studies for our students that gives meaning to who we are and what we do. 

The online teaching and work from home arrangements that Botho University is implementing are not very different from what is happening globally even among leading international universities and these arrangements work towards ensuring operational continuity which is very important in a crisis situation of this size. In many countries Botho University may be seen as a pioneer. Yes, none of the solutions are perfect and there can always be improvements, but it is seen is that even the strongest of global universities are grappling to implement these new arrangements – we are watching and learning from others.  While it may sometimes seem to be easier just to stop everything and deal with the problem later, that is a dangerous approach as it is evident that this crisis could prolong for months, thus making the problem much more complex to deal with at a later stage. Let us also not forget that this pandemic is going to leave the world and most governments and organisations financially weaker than ever before. Our positive actions today define our future – every bit we do now makes the future a bit easier. I am indeed gratified that all Botho University staff have taken to these new arrangements for teaching and working in real earnest and I am truly humbled by the creativity of our staff members. I urge you to keep up the spirit.

I write this note to show solidarity with you my co-workers and colleagues, the entire staff of Botho University. I have personally felt the fear, anxiety and confusion that many of you may be feeling in this situation. Like so many of you I am also concerned about immediate family members who could be at a higher risk. These emotions could easily derail any kind of normalcy that we have. There are numerous self-help ideas out there – I can share with you some of the strategies I have personally used to gain control over my thoughts, to feel stronger and to be able to be motivated to work from home productively.

  • Dealing with information overload – no more than 20 minutes a day of news and social media
  • Building a positive routine – keeping a diary
  • Separating work and family time – separate space to work in where possible
  • Attending to office work regularly at specific times
  • Learning new skills – there are hundreds of free courses on offer eg Coursera – great time to read up for new research projects
  • Regular physical exercise, breathing exercises, self-help strategies like the Emotional Freedom Technique and prayer
  • Spending 20 minutes contacting family and friends – keep smiling
  • Substantial reduction of TV time – I read more ebooks
  • Eating regular meals – simple but healthy food – small plates!

Some of you will have young families to care for and this could take your time. Try to have working arrangements with your partner so that children are cared for, house work done and you still can dedicate time for work. This difficult situation will bring about change and we may find ourselves working differently or doing work that we have never done before. The focus is on maintaining continuity and this is not going to be easy. We are trying to do our best to empower you. With your support I expect Botho University to come through this tough period a stronger, more resilient and better institution. 

Let us all think of the principles of Botho and Ubuntu as we carry on our lives in the next few weeks to come. I have attached to this email a generic communication that we are sending all stakeholders today. Please stay in touch through the lockdown and I am always available on my email sheela@bothouniversity.ac.bw or my phone +267 71351731.

Stay safe and stay well,

Sheela

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