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Part I Descriptive Section


"Everyone has a right to education…."

Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 26 (1)

1.0 Introduction

"Education For All" (EFA) was the theme of the World Conference held in Jomtien, Thailand in 1990, where the world community pronounced their commitment to Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and adopted a rights-based approach to the provision of education in their countries. The Jomtien conference resulted in a declaration, which is known as the World Declaration on Education for All: Meeting Basic Learning Needs. The declaration had an operational framework that sets out outlines six target dimensions against which progress towards provision of education for all can be appraised. These are:

Dimension 1: Expansion of early childhood care and developmental activities, including family and community interventions, especially for poor, disadvantaged and children with disabilities.

Dimension 2: Universal access to, and completion of, primary education or whatever level of education is considered basic) by the year 2000.

Dimension 3: Improvement in learning achievement such that an agreed percentage of an appropriate age cohort attains or surpasses a defined level of necessary learning achievement.

Dimension 4: Reduction of adult illiteracy rate with sufficient emphasis on female literacy to significantly reduce the current disparity between male and female illiteracy rates.

Dimension 5: Expansion of provision for basic education and training in other essential skills required by youth and adults.

Dimension 6: Increased acquisition by individuals and families of the knowledge, skills and values required for better living and sound sustainable development made available through education channels.

The Jomtien framework constituted what has came to be known as the "expanded vision of basic education" in that it recognises basic education to be broader than schooling. In this vision, basic education starts with early childhood development education, and extends to in-school activities. It also covers a range of non-formal education activities for adults and youth who need to be equipped with a range of basic skills that they need to navigate the world. The framework introduced, for most of the countries, a paradigm shift from equating schooling with education, thereby increasing the challenges to educators most of which are school teachers. The new vision affirms by definition, the right-based approach to education.

Adoption of education for all by the 1990 Jomtien conference found Botswana in the middle of implementing her own goals towards provision of basic education for all its citizens. For Botswana, provision of basic education at present means organising learning opportunities to enable both children and adults to learn basic literacy and numeracy skills, and to achieve an educational level equivalent to a Junior Certificate (a junior secondary school qualification). Basic education can be achieved through ten years of formal schooling for the school-age population, or by other non-formal means for the youth and adults. Organised and deliberate efforts towards the attainment of basic education started with the goals set out in the first National Policy on Education of 1977 (NPE). This policy document was derived from the report entitled Education for Kagisano, which submitted to the government by the first National Commission on Education (NCE, 1977).

1.1 The National Policy on Education, 1977

The first NCE was appointed in 1976 as a presidential commission of enquiry set up under the Commission of Enquiries Act (Cap. 05:02). It was charged with the responsibility of formulating the country’s philosophy of education, setting goals for the development of education and training, and recommending the best strategies to achieve those goals (see Appendix 1 for the Terms of Reference for the first National Commission on Education). The first National Policy on Education of 1977 (NPE) was derived from Education for Kagisano, the report of this first NCE. The NPE was a significant milestone in the history of Botswana’s education system in that it provided a sound framework for educational planning, and for the provision of education. It also closed a chapter on one of the legacies of Botswana’s colonial history that of restricting access to quality education to only a few privileged individuals.

The National Policy on Education (NPE) endorsed the philosophy of Education for Kagisano, which means Education for Social Harmony. Based on the four national principles of democracy, development, self-reliance and unity, social harmony is an important outcome for the society of Botswana. The proponents of Education for Kagisano envisaged that an ideal education system for Botswana would be one that can be instrumental in the production of a society whose characteristics reflect the national principles, a society in pursuit of the national ideal of social harmony. The NPE acknowledged that substantial changes throughout the education system were necessary in order to adapt the education or pursuit of the new goals. Hence, education policy pronounced a new strategy for achieving those goals.

Strategy for Achieving Education for Kagisano

The general strategy of the National Policy on Education of 1977 (NPE) was to increase access to education at all levels, with special emphasis on universal access at the primary level, output of educated human resources to meet the demand, and increase on education expenditure at the primary school level. Towards this end, NPE proposed the following measures:

  1. Immediate priority for quantitative and qualitative improvement in primary education.
  2. Provision of nine years of schooling, with the last three years in day Junior Secondary Schools, for all by in 1990; and,
  3. A reorientation of the curriculum to embody the national principles and to emphasise the acquisition of basic knowledge and skills that Batswana will need in a developing, rapidly changing society and economy.
  4. Introduction of a national service scheme for Form V leavers, particularly in the field of primary teaching, so as to ‘buy time’ until sufficient well-qualified candidates for teacher training become available;
  5. Greatly increased emphasis upon part-time learning, out-of-school education, and the combination of learning and work; and
  6. Elimination of major discontinuities in the present education system.

Recommendations of the NPE were to be studied, where priority areas would be identified and sequences of action are planned in the major phases. The first sequence of actions was to be achieved from 1977 to 1980, the second sequence from 1981 to 1985, and the last sequence from 1986 in to the future. One of the actions that were taken in the first phase was to interpret the NPE and come up with comprehensive goals of basic education. Box 1 presents the Aims of the Nine-Year Basic Education Curriculum as these goals later came to be known.

Even though Botswana’s National Policy on Education was organised under a framework that is different from the dimensions of the Jomtien Framework for Action, there is considerable conceptual similarity between the EFA targets as pronounced by the Jomtien Framework for Action, and the themes of NPE. As such, it has been possible to provide a description of the achievement and shortcomings of NPE against the dimensions of the Jomtien Framework for Action. Table 1 below presents an overview of goals that Botswana set out to achieve in educating its citizens in the first education policy in 1977. It provides a background for a more detailed assessment that comes later in the report, that of the achievements and shortfalls of Botswana’s effort towards the provision of education for all of its citizens in the decade following the Jomtien Framework for Action.

Box 1

 Aims of the Nine Year Basic Education Curriculum

On completion of the of the Nine Year Basic Education programme each student should have accomplished each of the following aims;

    1. Show knowledge and appreciation of the Setswana culture, language, literature, arts, crafts, and tradition.
    2. Understand English and use it appropriately, both as a medium of learning at school, and as a vehicle of communication beyond school.
    3. Apply knowledge and imagination to identify problems in household management and everyday commercial transactions, and have the mastery of basic scientific and mathematical concepts to solve them.
    4. Be able to observe and record accurately and draw reasoned conclusions.
    5. Realise the effect of Botswana’s location in the African continent on political, economic, and social life in Botswana.
    6. Acquire skills in food production and industrial arts for self-reliance, self-sufficiency, and rural development.
    7. Effectively use commonly needed tools and instruments in activities connected with later studies and out-of-school occupations.
    8. Know how to run a home and care for a family.
    9. Be able to assess their own achievements and capabilities in pursuit of appropriate employment and/or further education.
    10. Have developed a sound moral code of behaviour compatible with the ethics and traditions of Botswana.
    11. Be able to adapt to social, economic, and technical change by adjusting acquired knowledge to new situations and by taking appropriate action.

Source: Curriculum development and Evaluation, 1985

The first column of Table 1 presents six dimensions. The first five dimensions are the EFA core dimensions as proposed in the Jomtien framework (dimension 5 being a synthesis of the original dimensions five and six). The sixth dimension singles out education for disadvantaged populations for special emphasis. Corresponding targets in the NPE are provided in the second column, while the third column presents a summary of action that was proposed and/or carried out in the development planning exercise, particularly National Development Plans 5 and 6.

Botswana’s Education for All Conference, 1991: A Response to Jomtien

Following the Jomtien conference, the Botswana government’s Ministry of Education convened a national conference on Education for All in Botswana in June 1991. The objectives of the conference were:

  1. To have a dialogue on the present problems in meeting the basic learning needs of the child, youth and adult;
  2. To focus the attention of the people, the private sector, governmental and non-governmental organisations and the public at large on the present education system and to explore realistic means of rapidly extending coverage and improving the quality of Basic Education in Botswana.
  3. To provide a platform for revitalisation of commitment by the community, support-ministries, NGOs, the public and private sector and all other institutions to participate and support Government to realise its educational objectives.

(Seisa & Youngman, 1993; p.5-6)

The Botswana EFA conference adopted Article 1 of the World Declaration on Education for All, drew up and adopted a statement on the scope of Basic education and the appropriate institutional framework to meet the learning needs of children, youth, and adults within the Botswana context. The conference also made recommendations for strengthening basic education. The recommendations for strengthening basic education can be clustered around four themes, namely, policy formulation, improvement of education quality, school management and education administration and building partnerships in the provision of education.

The first set of recommendations called for policies to be formulated for provision pre-primary education, the provision of Non-Formal Education as proposed by NPE of 1977, and the in the area of special education to ensure accessibility of basic education to all groups of disadvantaged children. An additional recommendation was to declare the nine years of basic education free and compulsory for all Batswana children.

Improvement of education was a concern of the conference. Towards that end the conference recommended improving the standard of both pre-service and in-service teacher preparation and conditions of service for teachers, improving curriculum content and its delivery, and improving the school environment for maximal learning gains. The conference also proposed the establishment of a National Examination Board to produce examinations that are more tailored to the Botswana’s context, as well as maintains international standards.

Recommendations on school management and education administration called for better in-service and pre-service of teachers on school management, and other educators on education administration.

The last set of recommendations on strengthening of basic education centred on developing partnerships in the provision of education. The conference proposed building and strengthening partnerships with the private sector in financing education, with non-governmental organisations in identifying and serving groups with special needs, and with local communities in providing other forms of assistance that schools needed. The recommendations that have been summarised above (and the additional recommendations for the other levels of education) were discussed in the Ministry of Education’s Policy Advisory Committee. These later formed part of the information that was reviewed by the second National Commission on Education that was appointed in 1992 to revise NPE.

Table 1: Botswana Educational Targets for 1977-1993


EFA Core Dimensions


 Corresponding Targets in the NPE

 Action/proposed action in NDP5 and NDP 6

 Expansion of Early Childhood and Care and Development (ECCD)
  • Encourages participation through NGOs, and sets out no policy for formal involvement of the education sector.


  • No mention of early childhood care and development under the education sector. ECCD issues concerned the provision of primary health care service, and were as such, the responsibility of the Ministry of Health.


 Universal access to basic education by the year 2000.


  • Quantitative improvement in primary education set out as immediate priority in order to increase access to schooling.


  • Improvement to universal access to 9 years of schooling for children of school going.
  • Recognition of disparities in terms of access and quality of education between urban and rural communities, and a commitment to eliminate those disparities.


 Improvement in learning achievement


  • Qualitative improvement in primary education to be pursued.
  • Reorientation of curriculum to embody national principles and to emphasise acquisition of basic knowledge and skills that Batswana will need in a developing, rapidly changing society and economy.


  • Establishment of CD&E. and revision primary school curriculum completed and implemented.
  • More and better locally produce textbooks and other instructional support materials.
  • In-service training of educators in improvement of teaching and service delivery.
  • Reduction of proportion of untrained teachers.
  • Training of special education teachers to teach children with disabilities in schools throughout the country.


 Reduction of adult illiteracy


  • Greatly increased emphasis upon part-time learning, out-of-school education, and the combination of learning and work.

Establishment of DNFE, and the introduction of NLP with its various activities.

Increased enrolments in distance education for the JC and COSC levels.

Once functional literacy has been achieved, develop programmes to apply literacy skills as ways of maintain literate environments, and sustaining literacy.


 Acquisition and expansion of skills that are essential for sustainable human development of youth and adults


  • Emphasise acquisition of basic knowledge and skills that Batswana will need in a developing, rapidly changing society and economy


  • Increase enrolments in brigades, particularly the enrolment of women as compared to men.
  • Increase of subsidy for brigades training.
  • Develop extension programmes for skills training under appropriate government departments, e.g. agricultural projects such as fishery, etc.


 Education for disadvantaged populations
  • learners with disabilities
  • cultural minorities
  • learners from destitute families

Eliminate discontinuities in the present education system



  • Build more special schools, and training of special education teachers to teach disabled children in schools throughout the country.
  • Establish small one or two-teacher schools for small remote settlements, and better supervision of hostels where essential.
  • Provide bursaries or destitute allowance for the very poor to cover the cost of attending school.


1.2 The Revised National Policy on Education, 1994

Like its predecessor, the Revised National Policy on Education (RNPE) was a product of a presidential national commission of enquiry into the education sector. The commission was appointed against the background that there had been a considerable change in the socio-economic context within which the 1976 review took place. For instance, while the 1976 review took place 10 only years after independence when most of the country’s workforce lacked minimal skills, Botswana was faced in 1993, with a new challenge of preparing the workforce for a global economy. Hence, it was necessary to revise the education policy, which had been in operation in order to realign it with the country’s goals and aspirations, and to refocus it to new priorities. (See Appendix 2 for the Terms of Reference for the second National Commission on Education).

The newly appointed commission conducted a thorough review of the first education policy. Successes in its implementation were highlighted, and the shortcomings were isolated for re-examination. A series of consultations with educators, the private sector, industries, and the public at large were conducted. The Commission also commissioned a number of studies to investigate topical issues in education, and other issues that needed specific attention. The Jomtien Conference Declaration was an important source of information for the Commission in that it presented the basis for aligning the goals of Botswana’s education with global initiatives in providing education for all world citizens. Also considered as part of the Commission’s deliberations were the recommendations of the 1991 local conference on Education for All Conference.

The RNPE identified the goal of education as preparing Batswana for the transition from a traditional agro-based economy to the industrial economy that would be able to compete with other countries of the world. In addition to responding to the demands of the economy, the government of Botswana considered access to basic education a fundamental human right (RNPE, 1994). Thus, the overall objectives of national education as pronounced by the RNPE are currently outlined as follows:

  1. To raise educational standards at all levels.
  2. To emphasise science and technology in the education system.
  3. To make further education and training more relevant and available to larger numbers of people.
  4. To improve the partnership between school and community in the development of education.
  5. To provide life-long education to all sections of the population
  6. To assume more effective control of the examination mechanism in order to ensure that the broad objectives of the curriculum are realised.
  7. To achieve efficiency in educational development.

In addition to achieving universal access to basic education through schooling, the RNPE addressed other strategies through which universal access for all would be achieved, both for children and adults. These included out-of-school education, education for the poor and disadvantaged, and education for Batswana with disabilities.

The RNPE recommended a new structure basic education, seven years of primary and three years of junior secondary. It also specified goals of basic education component, which were to be achieved by every Motswana. The Department of Curriculum Development and Evaluation (CD&E) interpreted the goals basic education into aims from which subject aims and curricula could be developed. Box 2 below presents the Aims of the ten-year Basic Education programme.

Box 2

Aims of the Ten-year Basic Education Programme

On completion of the of the ten-year Basic Education programme students should have:

    1. Developed competence and confidence in the application of computational skills in order to solve day-to-day problems.
    2. Developed an understanding of business, everyday commercial transactions and entrepreneurial skills.
    3. Developed critical thinking, problem-solving ability, individual initiative, interpersonal inquiry skills.
    4. Developed desirable attitudes towards different types of work and the ability to assess personal achievement and capabilities realistically in pursuit of appropriate career/employment opportunities/possibilities and/or further education.
    5. Acquired knowledge, skills and attitudes in food production and industrial arts for self-reliance and self-sufficiency.
    6. Developed awareness and/or literacy and understanding of the significance of computers in the world of work.
    7. Acquired knowledge and understanding of their environment and the need for sustaining utilisation of natural resource.
    8. Developed desirable attitudes or behavioural patterns in interacting with the environment in a manner that are protective, preserving, nurturing.
    9. Acquired knowledge and understanding of society, appreciation of their culture including languages, traditions, songs, ceremonies, customs, social norms and a sense of citizenship.
    10. Developed the ability to express themselves clearly in English, in Setswana and/or a third language both orally and in writing, using then as tools for further learning and employment.
    11. Acquired the basic science knowledge and skills, including basic knowledge of the laws governing the natural world.
    12. Acquired a good knowledge and practice of moral standards and health practices that will prepare them for responsible family and community life.
    13. Developed their own special interests, talents and skills whether these are dexterity, physical strength, intellectual ability, and/or artistic gifts.
    14. Acquired an appreciation of technology and technological skills including basic skills in handling tools and materials.
    15. Gained the necessary knowledge and ability to interact with and learn about their community, the government of their country and the world around them.

Source: Curriculum Blueprint, 1995

Other issues that the policy identified for action were improvement of the quality of education, which was generally believed to have been compromised by concerns of access. For example, The RNPE recommended raising the standard for teacher qualifications, both in terms of the academic and professional qualifications, and introducing remedial teachers into the basic education system.

1.3 The EFA Forum and EFA 2000 Assessment Initiative

The International Consultative Forum on Education for All, or the EFA Forum, is a coalition of agencies and specialists set up after the World Conference on Education for All in 1990. The EFA Forum was set up for the purpose of guiding follow-up action and providing a forum for continuous consultation among governments and their partners on matters of basic education. Its convenors include the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Bank, as well as several bilateral and multilateral donor agencies sponsor the EFA Forum.

EFA Forum's main activity of the end of decade is the EFA 2000 Assessment. Led by the UNESCO, EFA 2000 Assessment is a world-wide initiative to countries which are signatories to the Jomtien Declaration to come up with a comprehensive assessment of their progress towards their own basic education goals during the 1990s, the decade following the Jomtien Conference. EFA 2000 Assessment guidelines recommended as a framework for the assessing progress towards country EFA goals, the Jomtien Framework that was proposed for implementation of EFA activities. Another important purpose of the EFA 2000 Assessment initiative is to assist countries to sharpen their focus on new priorities, identify promising strategies for accelerating progress towards education for all, and to revise their plans for action accordingly (Education For All Technical Guidelines, 1998).

For Botswana, like in many countries of the world, there were goals, objectives, and activities aimed at providing basic education to all citizens before there was "EFA 2000 Assessment". The End-of-Decade Review activities, just like the activities of the Mid-Decade Review of 1996, will focus primarily on evaluating progress of Botswana in attaining her specific goals set towards educating her citizens. In addition the review will, to the extent that there is an overlap between the EFA programme goals and the goals of provision of basic education in Botswana, evaluate the success of the EFA program in helping achieve the global target of education for all. The Assessment will reach its high point in April 2000 when the international community will meet at the World Education Forum.


Government policies, goals, and objectives in Botswana are sector-based. For the education sector the Revised National Policy on Education (1994) is the document that has driven education planning in most of the EFA decade. Policy pronouncements on the provision of education are outlined in the RNPE, while the set of activities which constitute the plan of action are found in National Development Plans (NDPs), the overall government planning documents that span a period of about 5 years. Some activities of the RNPE were implemented in the period of NDP 7, while the majority of the activities were earmarked for implementation in the chapter on education and training, NDP 8.

The Government of Botswana, under its Ministry of Education has the portfolio responsibility for the achievement of goals for basic education. However, many actors in the private and non-governmental sectors, and the donor agencies have taken an active part in the provision of education. This is true especially for the activities of the education that that take place outside the school setting, where various projects were initiated in conjunction with the Ministry of Education and local communities.

This section describes the activities of the education system that are geared towards achieving education for all in the decade following Jomtien. Descriptions are centred on the six dimensions outlined in Table 1. Under each dimension, goals that were set for the EFA decade are described, followed by the description of the strategy for implementing the goals. Decision-making and management structures and partners who are involved in the provision of basic education are described. The section concludes by detailing significant changes in the financing of basic education.

2.0 Education for All Goals and Targets

Education for All goals occur at two levels. First are the set of goals contained in the Jomtien Conference Declaration which were agreed upon by authorities in the education sector following the. In Botswana, these were the goals which were identified through several structures, the most notable of with was the 1993 Presidential Commission on Education. Most of the recommendations of the Commission were formalised into education policy, the Revised National policy on education of 1994.The RNPE identified main issues in education from which short, medium and long-term objectives are delineated. Adapted form National Development Plan 8, Box 3 presents the main issues and temporal objectives around which educational development programmes are planned.

The objectives constitute in part, an interpretation of education policy and summary of targets to be achieved by the education sector. Implementation of the short term objectives commenced immediately after the RNPE was adopted, while implementation of the medium plan objectives was planned for the period of NDP 8. The timeframe that was set to achieve the long-term objectives is 25 years.

Box 3

The Revised National Policy on Education

Education in Botswana aims to achieve the following:

 Recommendation of the Commission that were accepted by Parliament were divided into short, medium and long term objectives. The short-term objectives are as follows:

The following medium term objectives will be implemented during NDP 8:

The long-term objectives are those that will be implemented during the remaining years of the 25 year

period. These are:

Adapted from NDP 8

2.1 Goals and Targets Expansion of Early Childhood Care and Development for the 1990s

Pre-school education is generally defined as a programme for the 0-6 year olds, functionally broken down into 0 to 2 year olds (Early Stimulation and Care - ESC) 2 to 4 year olds (Play School); and 4 to 6 year olds (pre-primary). Provision of service for the first two stages is the responsibility of the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Local government, lands, and Housing. The pre-primary stage of ECCD is the concern of the Ministry of Education. MOE is catering for this stage in policy planning, monitoring, evaluation and reporting processes, and regularly releases information on the progress in providing pre-primary education.

In 1992 at the beginning of the implementation phase of the Jomtien Framework, there were 208 Day Care Centres with an enrolment of 11424 throughout the country. More than one third of the child care facilities were located in the town/city council areas, which had less than a quarter of the total population. About 1 out of 7 children in town/city council areas attended day care centres whilst 1 out of 30 attended in district council areas. By 1997, there were 291 Day Care Centres of which 118 (40.5%) were in urban areas and 173 (59.5%) were in rural areas.

Pre-primary education was not singled out in the Terms of Reference of the second National Commission on Education (see Appendix B for the Terms of Reference). However, the Commission found a mandate to make recommendations on early childhood education in their interpretation of the Term of Reference below:

To re-examine the structure of the education system and recommend a system that will guarantee universal access to basic education whilst consolidating vocationalising the curriculum content at this level (National Commission on Education Report, Government of Botswana, 1993, p.61).

In line with the Jomtien expanded vision Education For All, the basic education component was extended to include early childhood care and education, education of out-of school children and youth, and provision of literacy skills to illiterate youth and adults.

For pre-primary education, the National Commission on Education had set a goal to achieve universal access to 2 years of pre-primary education within 25 years. This recommendation was accepted in principle, but its implementation was deferred. Rather government undertook to provide an enabling environment for those who will be providing education at the early childhood phase, those being local authorities, churches, NGOs and the private sector. In the meantime, work on the development of a comprehensive policy on pre-primary education commenced in NDP 8.

The rest of the RNPE recommendations on pre-primary education addressed organisational issues of building the necessary MOE support structures for those who provide of pre-primary education, and curriculum development for this level.

2.2 Goals and Targets for Universal Access to Primary Education for the 1990s

Universal access to primary schooling is a goal that was declared in 1977 during the period of the first National Policy on Education (NPE, 1977) in Botswana. Commitment to this goal was reiterated in the National Conference on Education for All in 1991, and also in the Revised National Policy in Education (RNPE, 1994). In the period of the implementation of RNPE, Botswana is about to achieve universal access to primary education. However, unequal access to educational resources and lack of equity in the distribution of those resources remain the two most crucial problems that hamper the realisation of the objective of basic education for all.

There were numerous targets for the provision and strengthening of universal primary education the 1990s. Most of these were part of the planning document, National Development Plan 7, which was prepared in 1989/90 for the period 1991-1997. Other targets were pronounced at the National Education for All Conference convened in 1991 following the Jomtien Conference. Following is a list of goals and targets that address the internal efficiency of the education system, improving quality and relevance education, and improving the cost effectiveness of education.

Access to primary education will be increased by;

  1. Providing universal access to 10 years basic education within 25 years, with a 98% progression to Form 1 (Junior Secondary Level) by 2000;
  2. Building more schools, more classrooms, and integrating more privately run Setswana medium schools into the government system;
  3. Reducing class size from a maximum of 40 to 30; and
  4. Applying both formal and non-formal approaches for provision of education to remote area dwellers.

On quality and relevance of primary education, the goals are to:

1. Eliminating the need for untrained teachers;

2. Improve the standard of primary schools teachers by offering a pre-service diploma qualification, and in-service programmes for serving teachers;

  1. Increase the practical orientation of the curriculum in the formal education system;
  2. Improve performance in mathematical and science subjects; and
  3. Develop local curriculum materials and assessment systems.

On cost-effectiveness, to

  1. Increase cost-effectiveness of primary education by reducing and containing the unit cost, and
  2. Enhance individual, community, and private sector contributions to the provision of education.

Some of these goals were carried on to the NDP 8 as priority areas.

2.3 Goals and Targets Improvement in Learning and Achievement Outcomes for the 1990s

All education providers in Botswana expect learning to occur while children are in school. They also expect that the behaviours, skills and attitudes that are learnt in school to be sustainable, and to translate into actions that will improve the lives of those who received such an education. Both measures of internal efficiency and effectiveness are necessary in assessing performance of the education system. The previous section dealt mainly with descriptions of efforts to increase the internal efficiency of primary education in Botswana. Assessing learning achievement is a way of assessing effectiveness, which takes us a step closer to assessing the impact of education on people’s lives.

Access into basic education increased rapidly in the 80s, due to, among many factors, building more schools that were nearer to communities, and the abolition of school fees. With more children in school, the system needed to pay closer attention to improvement of quality of basic education. Hence the both education policies, the NPE and the RNPE, mandated assessment of learning achievement. Policy-mandated external occurs at three points in the basic education cycle in Botswana. The first is the Standard 4 Attainment test.

The Attainment test battery is developed by the ERTD, but is administered locally by class teachers. It is meant for diagnostic purposes and monitoring achievement at the mid-point in the primary cycle. To date, the attainment tests have been used to retain learners who show a serious deficit in attainment of basic literacy and numeracy skills at Standard 4. However, the role of the attainment tests is likely to be enhanced in the future with the implementation of the RNPE recommendation of adopting the assessed progression approach to promote children from one grade to the next.

The second policy-mandated assessment is the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE). The PLSE was originally a selection test, but has since been developed into a criterion-referenced achievement test. The Junior Certificate Examination comes at the end of ten-year basic education phase. This test is a norm-referenced achievement test which is used primarily for selecting students for the senior secondary phase.

Qualitative improvements planned for the EFA decade in the Examination Research Testing Division (ERTD) included:

To develop and implement criterion-referenced testing procedures for the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) to replace the norm-referenced test.

To develop and implement criterion-referenced testing procedures for the Standard 4 Attainment test.

To introduce continuous assessment procedures for the PSLE and Junior Certificate Examination (JCE).

To develop appropriate assessment procedures for children with disabilities.

To establish a fully-fledged autonomous National Examinations Council to perform both the administrative and professional duties related to examinations work.

The work of developing a criterion-referenced Standard 4 Attainment test was to be accompanied by developing national criteria or competencies for all the subjects at Standards 1 to 4. The test was to be used for monitoring learning achievement, where the test is developed by ERTD, scored by the teachers, and ERTD reverts to the schools to select a sample for analysis and reporting about what children learn in the first four years of primary schooling.

2.4 Goals and Targets for Reduction in Adult Illiteracy for the 1990s

The period between 1990 and 2000 was declared the "Literacy Decade" by the United Nations General Assembly. The overall goal of the literacy decade was "literacy for all" by the year 2000. The EFA assessment exercise for the end of the decade has called upon countries to examine how successful governments and their partners have been in expanding basic literacy, post-literacy, and continuing education opportunities for adult learners.

As early as 1991, the Department of Non-formal Education adapted the following objectives from a list of goals set for the literacy decade by the world community:

  1. To eliminate illiteracy or functional illiteracy through education in rural areas and urban slums, in favour of women and girls, and among groups having special educational problems or needs.
  2. Increase public awareness of the scope and nature of illiteracy as well as means and conditions for combating it. In particular, an effort should be made to alert public opinion to the rate of illiteracy among adult women and its implication for the well-being of children, and the association between illiteracy on the one hand, and poverty, under-development, and economic, social and cultural exclusion on the other.
  3. To increase popular participation, co-operation and solidarity in efforts to combat illiteracy, particularly through activities of the Government, NGOs, the private sector, parastatal organisations, volunteer organisations, and community groups.
  4. To increase co-operation within the United Nations Organisations, for example UNESCO, UNICEF, UNDP and more generally among all inter-governmental organisations, NGOs, and other Donor Agencies such as SIDA, GTZ, etc., in the struggle against illiteracy.
  5. To launch and implement a Plan of Action for the eradication of illiteracy by 2000, and to address issues of critical importance to the progress of literacy such as reducing primary school drop-out and establishing post-literacy programmes to prevent relapse into literacy.

The RNPE (1994) made a number of recommendations pertaining to the reduction of illiteracy. Actions targeted in these recommendations were;

  1. To continue and expand the activities of NLP.
  2. To review the level of payment and conditions of employment of Literacy Group Leaders.
  3. To conduct a National Household Literacy Survey and evaluate NLP as part of the survey.
  4. To give priority to post-literacy activities by developing literate environments that support productive activities in traditional agriculture and the informal sector.
  5. To introduce a basic education course for adults which will offer an academic qualification that is equivalent to the PSLE.

2.5 Goals and Targets for Acquisition and Expansion of Skills that are Essential for Sustainable Human Development in the 1990s

This section provides a description of activities that Botswana has undertaken to impart skills for sustainable human development. The paradigm of sustainable human development is the conceptual framework currently being used by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for country Human Development Reports (HDRs). Sustainable human development is defined in the Botswana HDR as the process of enlarging people choices, the essence of which is to increase opportunities for education, healthier living, better livelihoods, access to infrastructure, access to economic opportunities and political freedoms in an non-discriminatory atmosphere (Botswana Human Development Report, UNDP, 1997).

The reduction of poverty and human deprivation has been cited a positive indicator of sustainable human development (Botswana Human Development Report, UNDP, 1997), which means that the activities that are planned under this dimension should of necessity be geared to, among other things, reducing poverty. In addition to the government planning documents and reports, the recent analysis of the education sector in Botswana’s HDR and the findings of the poverty study (BIDPA, 1997) were used as sources for appraising whether progress has been made on imparting skills for sustainable human development.

The RNPE (1994) made a number of recommendations pertaining to imparting skills to out-of school youth and children, and for promoting continued education for adults in an attempt to improve their lives. The goals of out-of-school education were stated in the RNPE as follows:

  1. To establish a learning society in which education is seen as a life-long process;
  2. To guarantee universal access to basic education for school-going age children and for adults to promote equity and social justice;
  3. To provide opportunities for young people and adults to further their initial education to higher stages in order to raise the general level of education of the population;
  4. To provide opportunities for adults to acquire work-related skills that will improve their productivity and standard of living, and promote economic growth; and
  5. To increase the ability of adults to take part in social, political, cultural, and sporting affairs in order tp improve their quality of life and promote greater participation in the development process.

Actions targeted in the recommendations were

  1. To train more educators in the out-of-school education sector and conduct research and evaluation of the existing programmes.
  2. To establish resource centres for those working in out-of-school education.
  3. To develop a policy of using school facilities for out-of-school education activities.
  4. To provide funding for out-of-school education activities and monitor their progress.

The RNPE also recommended the establishment of the Botswana Distance Education College as a way of broadening opportunities for basic education to out-of-school youths and adults. The proposed college was to offer JCE courses in a way that is tailored to the learning needs of the out-of-school population.

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