Education in Botswana
Published by UNESCO "UNION NACIONAL DE EDUCACION SUPERIOR CONTINUA ORGANIZADA"
"NATIONAL UNION OF CONTINUOUS ORGANIZED HIGHER EDUCATION"
Education in Botswana is free, but it is not compulsory. The Ministry of Education has authority over all of Botswana's educational structure except the University of Botswana. The educational structure mirrors that of the United Kingdom: there is universal access to primary and junior secondary school, but a process of academic selectivity reduces entrance to the senior secondary school and the university. However, educational curricula incorporate prevocational preparation in the junior and senior secondary schools.
In 2001 Botswana's education system was comprised of seven years of primary education, three years of junior secondary education, and two years of senior secondary education. Each year at the primary level is a Standard, and each secondary level is a Form. This system was implemented in 1995 as a result of a 1993 National Education Commission study. Botswana's basic education program is comprised of the primary and junior secondary levels.
Primary education is the most important stage in the educational system, and the government strives to make this level of education accessible to everyone. One central objective of primary education is for children to be literate first in Setswana and then in English. Other goals are for children to become knowledgeable in mathematics and to have a command of science and social studies. From 1991 to 1997, the number of students completing the primary level and entering junior secondary increased from 65.0 percent to 98.5 percent.
Completing the Junior Certificate program may lead to admission to the senior secondary school program. Only those pupils whose grades are high enough on the Junior Certificate Examination are admitted to the senior secondary program. From 1991 to 1994, the number of students admitted to senior secondary schools increased from 28 to 34 percent. Botswana is in the process of building unified secondary schools, Form I to Form V, in the remote areas of the country to increase access to a senior secondary education.
Education has been given priority in the national budget. In the 1994-1995 financial year, the Ministry of Education received 10 percent of the national budget. The Department of Secondary Education and Teacher Training and Development shared 64 percent, and the ministry headquarters, which was responsible for four projects including the University of Botswana and Brigades development, received 25 percent. The 11 percent balance was spent on improving facilities and functions under the technical education, nonformal education, curriculum development, and evaluation and special education departments. The Ministry of Education expanded from a small unit of government in 1966 to one that looks after the educational needs of hundreds of thousands students from primary to tertiary levels. In addition, the ministry writes all required textbooks. The ministry's emphasis is on training qualified teachers, developing a diversified curriculum, and expanding facilities to meet the national commitment of universal education. The concern for achieving national literacy is underscored by the fact that 40.6 percent of the country's population is under the age of 15.
Botswana's first educational policy, called Education for Kagisano (Social Harmony), guided the country's educational development and administration from 1977 to 1993. In the early 1990s, the recognition that the country's socioeconomic situation had changed significantly resulted in a review of policies and strategies for Botswana's educational development. In March 1994, the Minister of Education presented Government Paper No. 2, The Revised National Policy on Education. Its recommendations will provide direction for Botswana's educational system until 2020.
The objectives of the new policy are to review the current education system and its relevance and to identify problems and strategies for its further development in the context of Botswana's changing and complex economy; to reexamine the structure of the education system to guarantee universal access to primary and junior secondary education, while consolidating and vocationalising the curriculum content at these levels; to advise on ways to ensure the education system is sensitive and responsive to the people's wishes and the country's manpower requirements; to study the various methods of streaming into vocational and academic groups at the senior secondary level; to study how the senior secondary structure relates to the University of Botswana degree programs and to determine how the two programs may best be reconciled; to advise on the organization and diversification of the secondary school curricula to prepare students who do not continue with higher education; and to make recommendations to the government on the best and most cost-effective methods of implementing the recommendations proposed by the Ministry of Education.
The education system makes minimal provisions for children with disabilities. Few disabled children are integrated in regular school classes, and there is a limited special education curriculum. Parents must pay fees to nongovernmental organizations if their special needs children are educated. However, the government has committed to intensify efforts to educate these children by paying the nongovernmental organizations' fees.
Botswana’s government is making education one of its top priorities, hoping to increase educational opportunities for generations to come. The Ministry of Botswana Education has been doing a commendable job since the independence of the country. The Ministry of Botswana Education is responsible for the overall growth in the number of students of all stages in Botswana.
Students begin primary school at age six and are allowed to continue secondary school until completion at age 17. Education in Botswana is free for students for the first 10 years, which is after the completion of middle school.
The Ministry hopes to see Botswana thrive in educational opportunities and become an advanced, innovative African country in the near future. The educational system in Botswana is guided by four main principles: democracy, development, self-reliance and unity.
In January 2014, The Ministry of Education and the World Bank Group hosted a workshop for Botswanan policy makers that focused on economic growth and utilizing competitive skills. Education is one of the six key points in the Vision 2016 and National Development Plan10, established to support Botswana’s economic growth and diversification. The public investment in education is high, reaching more than 9 percent of the country’s GDP.
Nearly 86 percent of the children in Botswana attend primary school, but that rate drops to just 35 percent of children who attend secondary school. As the children reach adolescent age and early adulthood, many take over family farming duties or in-house chores and duties, such as caring for sick or elderly members or children.
Botswana hopes to see education usher in a new age for the country, an age that promises security and a productive, prosperous, innovative society.