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2.6 Goals and Targets for Providing Education to Disadvantaged Populations in the 1990s

Disadvantaged populations in the context of Botswana are considered members of this group due to a number of reasons. The most prominent are people with disabilities, and the people who live in the remotest areas of Botswana, typically referred to as Remote Area Dwellers (RADS). Other groups of disadvantaged people include the rural destitutes and girls who dropout of school due to pregnancy. This population was singled out for emphasis in this report because it is historically one of the sections of Botswana community who have received the least support from Government as far as provision of social services, particularly education. Rather, provision of education for special populations was historically a concern of NGOs.

For instance, NPE of 1977 did not make any explicit goals on provision of education for Batswana with special educational needs. The need for organised special education services became a concern of government in the O& M exercise of 1993. This resulted in the establishment of the Division of Special Education that was charged with the responsibility of providing planning, advisory, and administrative services for children with disabilities across all levels of the education system. One of the goals of the new division was to mainstream special education services as part of the regular education system, and where necessary, set up separate special education units.

The RNPE of 1994 came up with explicit goals for provision of education for Batswana with special educational needs, and made recommendations for alleviation of difficulties for other populations. Derived from ten recommendation that became education policy, the goals for special education as expressed in the RNPE were:

  1. To ensure that all citizens of Botswana including those with special needs have equality of educational opportunities;
  2. To prepare children with special needs for social integration, as far as possible, with their peers in ordinary schools;
  3. To ensure a comprehensive assessment that is based on each child’s learning needs, and not on group norms, and which is followed by individualised instruction;
  4. To promote early identification and intervention which will ensure maximum success of the rehabilitation process; and
  5. To ensure support and active participation of the children’s parents and community through an education and information campaign.

Recommendation 15 of the RNPE recognizes the need to increase participation of cultural minorities in basic education. The target that addresses RADs education under the primary sector pertains to the provision of education through formal and non-formal means. Additional targets for RADs education were found in the work of other partners, the UNICEF country programme in particular.

Actions planned for the implementation of the recommendation include revising the curriculum and learning materials. The proposed curriculum is going to be skill-based, and non-prescriptive, which means that teachers will receive prototype materials which they will adapt for their local contexts to incorporate knowledge and experiences of learners. This has implications for, among others, pre-service and in-service teacher training in adapting curriculum materials. All these actions were implied in the sub-sector goals, but there were no specific targets and timeframes for achieving the targets.

Policy pronouncements on ensuring inclusion of children of destitute families in basic education address issues of school fees, and feeding. This was another area where there was no stock-taking to ascertain how many learners fall in this group, where these learners are, and if the relief that is planned for their benefit would reach them. As a result no specific targets were set for this population.

Teenage pregnancy is a problem that the school system has lived with for quite some time now. However past policies and regulations show that until recently, the school system dealt with it in a punitive manner. School girls who got pregnant (and in some cases the boys who were implicated in the pregnancies) were expelled from school, most of the time never to come back to the public school system. A small percentage of the girls re-entered school and attended private night schools, or chose to pursue their studies through non-formal means. The present regulations have been progressive in that they exhibit more tolerance and sympathy for young learners who fall pregnant. However, no specific targets were set either for eradicating teenage pregnancy, or for devising measures that would bring them back into pursuing their educational career.

A selection of activities of NDP 7 and NDP 8 were geared towards achieving goals that are stipulated under each EFA target dimensions. These are provided in provided in Table 2.

Table 2: Summary of Botswana Educational Targets for the 1990s and Beyond

Jomtien EFA Core Dimensions


Corresponding Targets in


Action on Target in


Action on Target in


Expansion of Early Childhood Education and Care (EDC)


Universal access to 2 years of pre-primary education within 25 years.
  • Formulate policy on pre-primary education

Set up the Pre-primary Unit in MOE

Train teachers who specialise in pre-primary education

  • Develop and disseminate pre-primary curriculum


Universal access to basic education by the year 2000.


Universal access to 10 years basic education within the 25 years; 98% progression rate to Form 1 by 2000.
  • Universal access to 10 years basic education

Improve access and quality at the primary level, i.e.,

  • build more classrooms
  • reduce class size from 40 to 30
  • Offer a diploma qualification to teachers in the primary school.


Improvement in learning achievement


Establish quality assurance systems for performance of education system. This includes learning achievement.
  • Develop a criterion-referenced PSLE and reporting systems for the PSLE.
  • Train teachers on CRT procedures.
  • Development of CRTs for Std 4 attainment tests and the JCE
  • Introduce CA on the PSLE and JCE
  • Hire one remedial teacher per school
  • Develop assessment procedures for learners with special needs.


EFA Core Targets

Corresponding Targets in


Action on Target in


Action on Target in


Reduction of adult illiteracy


Develop the society towards achievement of fully literacy;


Introduce post-literacy courses, namely Adult Basic Education Course, and Adult JC programme.


  • Increase enrolments in literacy programmes
  • Expand non-formal activities beyond reading and writing
  • Introduction of English as a Second Language
  • Address learning needs of rural and urban illiterates
  • Enhance mobility between formal and non-formal education
  • Continue to link formal and non-formal education
  • Provide appropriate teaching and learning packages
  • Strengthen Workplace Literacy programme
  • Continue to expand non-formal activities beyond reading and writing
  • Introduce the Adult Basic Education Course


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






  • Introduced career counselling and career fairs


  • Started a job shadowing exercise



Education for disadvantaged populations








  • Established a facility for identification and referral of children with special needs.
  • Provided itinerant teacher services
  • Increased enrolment of children with special needs.
  • Established Braille Production Unit
  • Introduced a Diploma and Degree programmes in Special Education
  • Assessment guidelines for special accommodations in preparation
  • Began consultations on standards for constructing and modifying buildings for easy access of children with special needs.

3.0 EFA Strategy and Plan of Action

The second national Commission on Education not only set out goals of education in the RNPE, but also recommended strategies for achieving those goals. It also recommended that an institutional framework for implementation and monitoring of the education policy.

3.1 Strategy for Pre-primary Education

Policy on provision of pre-primary education was being formulated towards the end of 1999. However, the Revised National Policy on Education (RNPE) recommended for immediate action on the following:

Following the recommendations of the RNPE, a Pre-school Development Committee has been established. The committee is made up of representatives of government Ministries, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) and aid agencies. Government Ministries are Education, Labour and Home Affairs, Local Government, Lands and Housing and Health. NGOs are represented by, among others, BCW, YWCA, Child to Child Network, Kuru Development Trust, Tirisanyo Catholic Commission and pre-school Centre Association. Aid agencies are UNICEF, and UNESCO. The committee’s main function is to co-ordinate developments in pre-school education.

3.2 EFA Strategy for Primary Education

In its recommendations of improvement and provision of primary education, the RNPE provided a framework and structure under which is became possible to monitor progress and attain the goals set for the provision of education in Botswana. The first set of recommendations proposed a strategy for education and training. For the primary level, the strategy was to;

The strategy above is now operational. It was also enhanced by appointing a co-ordinator at the policy-making level, a policy-making level officer who was charged with the responsibility of monitoring implementation of the RNPE recommendations. Other MOE departmental structures have also been enhanced to accommodate new responsibilities.

3.3 EFA Strategy for Achievement of Learning

Strategies addressed to improvement of learning achievement have focused on improving materials and physical facilities, teacher qualifications and ability to deal with mixed-ability groupings, curriculum development and learning assessment. A new challenge was that these improvements were to benefit the school going population, as well as populations who have to attain basic education through the non-formal system.

On improvement of physical facilities that may have an impact on learning improvement, the RNPE recommended that an adequate number of classrooms be built in each school. In addition, each primary school was supposed to be equipped with an administration block, a library, a fully equipped Science room, and a resource centre. Additional subject specific rooms were to be included in junior secondary schools. All buildings in education institutions were supposed to be accessible to all students, including students with physical and/or learning disabilities.

The need to have trainable and/or trained teachers was identified, hence the strategy that was adopted with respect to teachers was to raise their academic and professional qualifications for primary school teachers. It is envisaged that teachers with a sound minimum academic qualification would benefit more from in-service programmes that are routinely conducted when new innovations are introduced.

A new curriculum blueprint was developed in 1995. This blueprint addressed the acquisition of knowledge and problem-solving skills as well as the social, cultural, and ethical dimensions of human development. Implementation strategies for the new curriculum that address the component of improving learning achievement included;

In order to facilitate proper achievement and assessment of learning, assessment blueprints for all subject curricula were to be developed. These were meant to provide skills to be tested, and learning behaviours to be assessed. Also to be reflected in the blueprints were objectives to be assessed by continuous assessment, objectives to be assessed by examinations, and guidelines for setting performance to be used to award letter grades (Curriculum Blueprint, CD&E, 1995).

In some parts of Botswana, the strategy of improving conditions for teaching and learning is aimed at reducing absenteeism and dropout rates, and increasing contact time with teachers. For some communities for whom this is necessary, the RNPE recommended repackaging of the curriculum and rescheduling of the school year if the educational needs of these groups are to be addressed. appropriate strategies are needed for non-formal education.

3.4. EFA Strategy for Reducing Illiteracy

A number of activities were planned for the literacy decade under the National Literacy Programme of the Department of Non-formal Education (DNFE). These included the Literacy at the Workplace Project, Income Generating Projects, and the Village Reading Rooms, and English as a Second Language.

The Literacy at the Workplace Programmes though conceived in the 80s, started in 1991 as an organised initiative. The purpose of this project was to reach non-literate people at their places of work. The general operational strategy was that the DNFE along with the target organisation would work together to identify non-literate workers in the organisation. The responsibilities of the organisation were to provide space or identify a venue where classes would be held, arrange a class schedule and commit to releasing the employees to attend classes, and provide payment for the teacher. DNFE identified and trained a teacher, and provided teaching materials.

A total of 51 organisations have participated in the Literacy at the Workplace Project since its inception in 1991. To date, there has been 580 participants. Table A below shows the number of participants per district.

Income Generating Activities programme is charged with the responsibility of imparting productive and business management skills to people who participate in the National Literacy Programme as a means of improving their livelihood. This affords them the opportunity to use their literacy and numeracy skills in life situations, thereby avoiding relapsing into illiteracy.

Village Reading Rooms is joint project between DNFE and the Botswana National Library Service (BNLS). It was conceived in the 1980s as a post-literacy to afford the new literates an opportunity to read beyond the primas.

The English as a Second Language programme is an outcome of the 1984 and 1987 evaluation studies of the National Literacy Programme. The evaluation revealed a need for the provision of English as a Second Language for communication and further studies.

In addition, DNFE has planned activities to commemorate the International Literacy Day every year in this decade. These activities have included delivering speeches, learner testimonies, poetry, singing, exhibits of learner work, both from classroom activities and productive activities. Other activities included advocacy and social mobilisation for literacy, marketing of learner products. Table 3 presents a summary of inter-ministerial literacy projects, the government ministries that are responsible for the projects, and short description of the purpose of each project. This information also illustrates the multi-sectoral strategy that has been adopted for promotion of literacy activities.

3.5 EFA Strategy for Provision of Essential Skills

RNPE strategies for assisting young people and adults in attaining skills for betterment of their lives include community extension services programmes, provision of basic education through distance education and other non-formal means. Community extension services, under the auspices of the Rural Extension Co-ordinating Committee, facilitate training in technical and business skills for the rural and urban informal sector.

The Botswana College of Distance and Open Learning (BOCODOL) was established to offer among others, basic education courses, while the education policy environment provides for easy registration of private vocational colleges. The mass media has also been utilised as an avenue for disseminating training and support materials in education. For instance, local newspapers, Mmegi and The Guardian, carry inserts that address topical issues on education, and/or offer revision materials to learners in completing classes. Mmegi’s insert, Bokamoso is a montly publication, while the Guardian publishes The Guardian Learner bi-monthly. The RNPE also recommended shared use of all educational facilities in order to get maximum utility from facilities such as classrooms and resource centres.

The medium of radio, especially the state-owned Radio Botswana, has also been utilised in the dissemination of educational messages to Botswana citizens. There is a wide variety of radio programmes that are aired for their educative value. These include instructional support programmes that are designed and produced by the School Broadcasting Unit of the Department of Curriculum Development and Evaluation, programmes that publicise and support literacy activities, programmes that offer agricultural education, as well as publicise and support agricultural events. A number of programmes have been designed recently for the dissemination of messages about HIV/AIDS.

Table 3: Literacy Projects


Government Ministry




Project Name


Purpose/objectives of the Project


Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs
  • Botswana National Library Service
  • Prisons Department
  • Village Reading Rooms


  • Literacy of Inmates
  • Creation and sustenance of literate environments


  • Rehabilitation programme where inmates are encouraged to learn productive skills that they will need for life outside the prisons.


Ministry of Commerce and Industry
  • Department of Industrial Affairs
  • Income Generating Activities
  • Development of training materials, training of trainers, and access to credit


Ministry of Local Government, Lands and Housing
  • Social and Community Development
  • Income Generating Activities
  • Facilitate transfer between DNFE and the formal system
  • Funding and training
Ministry of Health


  • AIDS/STD Unit
  • Inter-Agency Materials Development Committee


  • Material development training
  • HIV/AIDS Awareness Campaigns



Ministry of Agriculture


  • Crop Rotation and Veterinary Services
  • Income Generating Activities
  • Training, financial and technical support




University of Botswana

  • Adult Education and Centre for Continuing Education

Training of Trainers

Training literacy educators




3.6 EFA Strategy for Education of the Disadvantaged Populations

Populations which are most disadvantaged when it comes to provision of education include with learners with disabilities, and learners who live in the remotest areas of Botswana, typically referred to as Remote Area Dwellers (RADS). Other groups of disadvantaged people include the rural destitute, and girls who dropout of school due to pregnancy.

The RNPE provides a strategy for implementing special education activities. The strategy began with transforming what was the Special Education Unit under the Department of Primary Education into as a stand-alone Division of Special Education, and recasting its role as a division that supports all levels of education. This Division advises other MOE departments in the area in the best methods of reaching their constituency. It has also mounted several programmes which include identifying students with learning abilities, placing their students in relevant educational institutions, and providing special learner materials and assistance where necessary.

Delivery of education to children of the RADs and increasing their interest and participation in schooling still remains one of the most serious challenges that MOE is faced with. MOE in collaboration with UNICEF has mounted a pilot programme on improving instructional conditions in a number of schools of children of RADs. This initiative is aims at addressing issues of language, cultural sensitisation of teachers, development and packaging of curriculum and learning materials in a manner that is sensitive to the culture and living conditions of the RADs. Other UNICEF supported programmes are aiming at improving the quality of children’s lives in boarding facilities and encouraging participation in school-readiness programmes (Government of Botswana/ UNICEF Education Programmes, 1995-1999).

The education system in Botswana is facing a serious problem of school dropouts due to teenage pregnancy. Even though school participation rates between boys and girls are about equal, retention and graduation rates are skewed in favour of girls. In response to this problem government introduced a new policy that encouraged young mothers to re-enter school soon after their child’s first birthday (Regulation 34, Education Policy). A study whose purpose was to analyse and evaluate this new policy has shown that girls do not take advantage of the provision of this policy because of a number of reasons, one of which is that school is a hostile environment to young mothers (Chilisa, 1997). Factors that make school environment unbearable to young mothers include social labelling, taunting and tormenting of these motbers by their peers and their in some instances, teachers, and a general lack of regard for the additional responsibilities of motherhood by the school. One of the programmes that has been initiated to provide support for young mothers is Diphalana, another MOE/UNICEF collaborative effort.

The Basic Education for Pregnant Students Project (Diphalana for short) is aimed at educating students to prevent pregnancy, and to provide uninterrupted basic education for girls who would otherwise drop out due to pregnancy. Students who participate in this programme are pregnant teenage girls who have been encouraged to continue schooling throughout pregnancy, and young mothers who have come back to re-enter school after a recent pregnancy. The main focus of the project is providing lifeskills education. This is in view of the fact that pregnant girls are at a higher risk not only of falling pregnant again, but of contracting STDs including HIV/AIDS.

Diphalana has proved to be a useful project in as far as providing a supportive learning environment to young mothers, and other material support for their babies. However, it will be difficult to replicate this model elsewhere on a more sustainable basis because of the cost implications. Lesson learned from it should be used to design a more sustainable programme.

4.0 EFA Decision-making and Management

While the national co-ordination was transferred to the MLHA in 1991, the management of the pre-primary programme remained the direct responsibility of the Local Authorities through the Division of Social and Community Development. The Pre-school programme is run in partnership with Local Authorities. Local Authorities are interested in a decentralised service and in maintaining the partnership that has always existed in the provision of this service. The role of the Ministries of Education and Local Government Lands and Housing is to create an enabling environment and policy guidelines for the development of the pre-school education program, while the Ministry of Education.

The responsibilities are shared as follows:

Ministry of Local Government, Lands and Housing

Ministry of Education

1. Approval and registration of a pre- school 1. Issue certificates of registration
2. Co-ordination, supervision and inspection 2. Clearance of foreign teachers
3. Establishment of by-laws 3. Review of inspectoral services

4. Mobilisation of the community and parental education

4. Pre-service training of teachers and


5. Employment of pre-school supervisor

5. Curriculum and supervisor programme development

6. Maintenance of community pre-schools

6. Establishment of standards and policy on pre schools

Management of primary education is the joint responsibility of several departments of the Ministry of Education. The Primary Education Department is responsible for supervising that learning takes place in the primary schools, while the Teacher the department Training and Development (TTD) oversees the professional development of teachers. Another MOE department, Teaching Service Management, is responsible for hiring and deploying teachers to schools, and the overall human resource management of teachers The chief executives and overall managers of primary education are the Directors of the departments. Education Officers of the Primary Education Department supervise the headteachers, while headteachers supervise teachers in primary schools. Policy-making for the primary level is the sole prerogative of the NCE. However, the Heads of Departments meeting can deliberate on policy matters and make recommendation to the Policy Advisory Committee, which would in term make recommendations to the NCE.

Decision-making and management of activities that are geared towards achieving learning outcomes is the responsibility of the Examinations, Research and Testing Division (ERTD). The roles and responsibilities of ERTD are development of assessment programmes, developing and administering examinations, monitoring learning achievement, and conducting assessment-related research that will inform improvement of learning achievement. The chief executive and overall manager of ERTD is the Director. NCE is responsible for policy-making for this component.

The Ministry of Education has the portfolio responsibility for the National Literacy Programme. Literacy activities were carried out with many partners in Government, NGOs, the private sector and parastatal organisations. Government departments had specific roles and responsibilities. Table 3 is a summary of the projects that DNFE is conducting in partnership with government ministries, e.g. the Botswana National Library Service, was a partner in the Village Reading Rooms Project. Parastatal and private organisations were mostly involved with the Workplace Literacy Project.

Different structures and committees for co-ordinating the activities of programmes have been put in place. However, DNFE officials play a pivotal role either as convenors or the secretariat of the committees. Like all other MOE departments, policy matters for DNFE are discussed by National Literacy Advisory Committee, the HOD meeting, which makes recommendation to the Policy Advisory Committee, which would in term make recommendations to the NCE.

5.0 Co-operation in EFA

Provision of education in Botswana is primarily the responsibility of the government. The Government encourages and welcomes assistance from partners and other stakeholders such as local authorities, local communities, donor agencies, NGOs, churches, parents and the learners themselves.

Provision of early-childhood care and development has been the initiative of the private sector, non-governmental organisations, and local communities. The RNPE supports the involvement of all these stakeholders. Non-governmental organisations involved in pre-primary have benefited substantial assistance from donors such as UNICEF, UNDP, while a substantial number of private individuals providing day-care have benefited from the Financial Assistance Policy (FAP). In 1996 there were about 350 such centres. It is not clear how many there will be at the close of the 1990s. There is little information about the nature of the centres, their locality, the nature and quality of their facilities.

Provision of primary education has largely been the responsibility of government. Access to government primary schools is open to all residents of Botswana, citizens and non-citizens alike. Of the 740 primary schools that have were registered in 1999, 665 (89.9%), were government owned, 66 (8.9%) were privately owned, while 9 (1.2%) were community owned, but government aided. Most government aided schools have been converted to fully fledged government schools in the past decade, with the percentage of government aided schools having dropped from 19.9 in 1990 to 1.2 in 1999. This was done as a means of improving access to primary schooling, and to provide a relatively equitable service of primary schooling in the affected communities.

Assessment and monitoring of learning achievement is conducted by teachers at the classrooms level, and externally through centrally designed tests. Standard 4 attainment tests, the PSLE and the JCE serve as major indicators of whether learning has occurred in the basic education cycle. Standard 4 attainment tests are developed externally, but administered and reported locally by teachers in government schools, while the PLSE and the JCE are developed and reported as external examinations. All three external examinations are developed in partnership with classroom teachers and curriculum developers.

At the classroom level, teachers are encouraged to keep a performance record for all learners, and appraise their achievements against the skills that they should achieve at each level as stipulated in the curriculum. Efforts to synchronise continuous assessment procedures such that classroom scores can be included when reporting learner achievement at the national level are underway. According to NDP 8, continuous assessment procedures should be finalised and operational by the end of the current planning period.

At the school level, most schools take responsibility for ensuring that learners meet their learning targets. Communities and district authorities also take a keen interest in how their schools perform in external examinations in comparison with other schools within the district, and reward schools that show evidence of good learning achievement. Comparisons on learning achievement are also made across districts. This information is used for policy-making and planning purposes at the national level. On the whole, learners that are enrolled private schools perform better than those enrolled in government schools for a various reasons.

Another important partnership was forged between government and the USAID and the Ministry of Education in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Projects which were funded by USAID include the Primary Education Improvement Project (PEIP), the Junior Secondary Education Improvement Project (JSEIP), and the Basic Education Consolidation Project (BEC). Areas of collaboration included development of curriculum and support material for the Nine-Year Basic Education Programme, the development of assessment procedures for the curriculum which culminated in the development of a criterion-referenced PSLE, capacity building for the primary school sector, to mention a few.

Recent collaboration efforts between MOE and donor agencies are aimed at capacity building. These include capacity building in the area of training of teacher trainers in the Colleges of Education (MOE and DFID), and improving the teaching profession (MOE and ADEA Working Group on the Teaching Profession of the Commonwealth Secretariat). Collaboration which is aimed at institutional capacity-building for improving the quality of education statistics and developing education indicators was also undertaken between the-MOE and UNESCO/SIDA.

Partnerships between Government, NGOs, and the private sector have also been effected in the provision of education for children with special educational needs. A multi-dimensional and multi-sectoral approach has been adopted where governments is providing assistance to NGOs which provide educational services for children with special needs.

Even though schools are generally run by school and personnel under the supervision of MOE School Inspectors, the RNPE supports the involvement of all stakeholders in education. At the primary school level, local communities are encouraged to participate in Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs), while Community Junior Secondary Schools have more formalised community-based structures of Board of Governors that work with school management teams in the running of schools. Board of governors are supposed to build partmerships between the community and the schools, and to promote community ownership of schools.

6.0 Investment in EFA since 1990

Investment in education has been a priority of the Government of Botswana since 1977 when expansion basic education to all citizen became a national goal. When the Jomtien Declaration came about in 1990, Botswana was moving towards the end of NDP 6 implementation period, where a substantial amount of the country’s resources had been spent as development expenditure for expansion of the primary school programme. During NDP 7, the largest share of development expenditure went to the junior secondary school level. The number of CJSSs increased from 120 in 1990 to about 234 in 1997.

Investment in education continues to be a priority even in the current planning period (NDP 8, 1997-2002), where the total development where the total development expenditure for MOE comprises 15.5% of the total Government development budget. A proportion of the funds has been earmarked for completing the expansion of the junior secondary buildings, as well as building new classrooms in the primary schools. The total recurrent expenditure that was been allocated to MOE during the same period is 29.1%. Government has also undertaken, in recent years, to spend money on the education of learners with special needs by giving subsidies to institutions that admit these learners.

Information on expenditure for ECCD is lacking, hence investment on education has so far not included ECCD and the pre-primary education phase. With the exception of ECCD centres that are run by the district and city councils, ECCD is by and large, funded by individuals, with subsidies from donor agencies, NGOs, and the private sector. However, the cost of education on individuals has increased over the years. So has participation, even though it has not reached satisfactory levels throughout the 1990, due of heavy emphasis on individual funding.

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