Meet Dr Nthobelang, one of the youngest Batswana with a doctorate

Aware that young people with university qualifications are roaming the streets jobless and frustrated, Dr Lone Nthobelang argues that education is the basis of a knowledge-based economy and therefore more Africans should pursue it in order to devise homegrown solutions to the continent’s problems. Staff Writer GOSEGO MOTSUMI just met him

At just 30 years old, Lone Nthobelang pursued his PhD and this month graduated with a Doctorate of Philosophy in International Relations from the esteemed Central China Normal University (CCNU).

Dr Nthobelang (PhD) competed for the China Scholarship Council in 2018 and was successfully awarded his PhD degree that comes with accolades of being among one of the youngest Batswana to earn the highest academic level degree.

“I am elated to have gotten this far,” he told Time Out in interview. “On one hand, it is great. But on the other hand, it is a huge and humbling feat to achieve. It means I have a sea of work ahead of me.

“My research so far has revealed to me the different ways that the elements that hold day-to-day life together are interconnected globally. Therefore, this accomplishment is a result of all the support afforded me. I intend to continue in this way, supporting those around me and those coming up after me. I hope we can cultivate the ground for even younger doctors.”

To achieve this milestone, Dr Nthobelang started with setting a goal because for himself growing up because he had a clear vision of where he wanted to see himself. Although this vision changed from time to time, his end goal remained the same and he engaged with every resource that brought him closer to the goal of achieving a doctorate by the age of 30.

Says the young PhD: “My qualification is an excellent way of acquiring an in-depth understanding of global issues. It is a fascinating and critical field that puts a lot of emphasis on economics, culture, education and political science and scrutinises the influence they have on society.

“I intend to act as a source of inspiration to people with shared interests and to grow my portfolio in the corporate, development and academic spheres. In that way, I hope to make a mark in this world. I am ready to get out there and do so.”

But while education has always being considered the key to success, graduates are currently roaming the streets because of increasing unemployment rates. Weighing in on this issue, Dr Nthobelang says the fact that nearly 60% of the population of Africa is under 25 should be seen as a big asset for the Mother Continent. Even so, he is aware exclusion of these educated young people from economic opportunities and participation has led to overwhelming frustration and discontent among them.

“We need to rethink how we think about education as just a key to employment,” he says. “Education is critical for building our knowledge economy and therefore more young people should be encouraged to pursue postgraduate studies through mentorship and graduate development programmes. Africa needs millions of PhDs to devise homegrown solutions to the continent’s problems. This is a call we cannot ignore.”

Dr Nthobelang’s educational journey began at Hillcrest Primary School in Gaborone and Kgale Hill Junior Secondary School before completing his secondary education at St. Joseph’s College near Gaborone. In 2010, young Nthobelang received an admission to pursue a BA (Hons) Business Enterprise with Botswana Accountancy College (BAC). Soon after graduation in 2014, he contested for a scholarship to pursue a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree with Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (JNTU) in India where he graduated cum laude in 2016.

“I have always been interested in languages,” he says when asked about his other interests. “Before COVID-19 struck, I was actually taking Chinese classes. I am looking forward to completing my Chinese Language courses and then perhaps take up French and Spanish, in that order.”