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7.0 Early Childhood Care and Development

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

Early childhood care and development (ECCD) still remains the part of Botswana’s education system that has the lowest participation rates. This is partly due to the fact that education policy has not singled out this level for rapid expansion in the way that was done with the primary level about 30 years ago, and the secondary level in the past decade. By and large, NGOs and the private sectors run the ECCD sector. However, the current education policy, the RNPE, has charged government with the responsibility of developing mechanisms for the co-ordination of this sector. Government, through the Ministry of Education, has assumed the responsibility of developing curriculum materials, providing training and professional development of teachers. This is a highly significant contribution, given that a substantial expenditure in the education of children goes towards paying teachers’ salaries.

7.1 Baseline Description on ECCD before 1990

The Ministry of Health has historically provided care for the newborn babies and children under its Primary Health Care programme. Services that were provided included family planning for women of reproductive age, educating pregnant women about maternal health care and encouraging them to attend ante-natal clinics, supervised deliveries to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity, and vaccination of young children against a number of diseases. By the end of the 1980s, access to primary health care for children had increased such that children of most communities were relatively health and ready to begin primary schooling at the designated age. However, prior to primary schooling, some children went into different kinds of early childhood care programs, including pre-primary education programmes.

The development of early childhood education prior to 1977 was not guided by any policy direction, neither did early childhood education appear in the agenda of the first National Commission on Education. However, early childhood care and education was provided in various forms by day care centres primarily run by voluntary organisations such as churches, the Red Cross, women’s groups, and by private individuals.

Due to a high social demand for more widely available pre-school education, there has been a large increase in different kinds of pre-school provision since 1977. This necessitated the establishment of a multi-sectoral Reference Committee on early childhood education in 1980. This committee was composed of representatives from the Ministries of Education, Health, Local Government and Lands and voluntary and religious organisations. Its mandate was to look into the activities of day care centres and draw up guidelines for their operation. The work of the Committee resulted in the adoption of the National Policy on Dare Care Centres in 1980. The policy was to provide guidance and reduce problems that were inherent in the uncontrolled establishment of the day care centres in the country.

Pre-primary centres were known by various names such as day care centres, nursery schools, crèches, pre-primary units, reception schools, and kindergarten classes. They also served different functions. While some provided custodial care to young children others functioned as "pre-schools" or preparatory classes for the primary school level. With an exception of "reception" classes in most private English Medium schools, an assessment of the pre-primary initiatives during the period of the NPE reveals that while day care centres played a role in socializing children and providing custodial care, they were not effective in preparing children for primary school. Officers who were responsible for supervising the programme were social workers in district and town councils, who, understandably, lacked a professional background in education. There was no prescribed curriculum for this level, and the quality of leadership in many centres was inadequate. Furthermore, many centres did not have any links with primary schools which received their graduates.

It is against this background that the Ministry of Education has continuously made proposals since the late 1980s, for a greater involvement of the education sector in the provision of pre-primary education. This was recognised by the Government in National Development Plan 7, 1991-1997, where a commitment was made to prepare a comprehensive policy on pre-school education and to link it to the formal education system. However, the proposed policy had not yet been formulated well into the 1990s.

7.2 Progress Towards ECCD Goals and Targets

The two indicators recommended for assessment of progress at the ECCD level are gross enrolment rate, and the percentage of new entrants into primary who have attended some form of organised early childhood development programme. No data is available on the first indicator, the ECCD gross enrolment rate. This is due to the fact that service providers have no obligation to report their enrolment statistics. However, the Department of Research, Planning and Statistics in collaboration with the Pre-primary Unit, have designed an survey instrument which will be used annually to collect ECCD data.

Data for Indicator 2 was obtained from a survey conducted in 1998 by MOE in collaboration with UNESCO. A stratified random sample of 80 (out of a total of 725) primary schools was surveyed around the country in 1998. In this survey, pupils in Standard 1 were asked if they had attended any form of pre-school classes prior to their enrolment in primary Standard 1. Figure 1 shows the level of participation in ECCD.

Figure 1: Participation in Early Childhood Care and Development by locality

Source: MOE/UNESCO Conditions of Teaching and Learning Study, 1998

The national average of new entrants to primary Standard 1 had attended some form of organised early childhood development programme in 1997 was 27%. Of those who were enrolled in private schools, 92.8% had ECCD experience, while only 24.8% of the public school pupils had participated in ECCD. A high level of participation in ECCD among private schools applies equally to schools in both urban and rural areas. In addition to locality and school ownership, data on the percentage of children who have ECCD experience was also disaggregated by sex as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2: New Entrants in Primary School with ECCD by sex, location and school ownership

Source: MOE/UNESCO Conditions of Teaching and Learning Study, 1998

ECCD experience for children who attend private schools is about equal for boys and girls. This is true for both urban and rural private schools. For children who attend public schools, girls seem to have a higher participation level than boys in ECCD. Also, ECCD experience was higher in the urban areas than rural areas.

Several factors may be responsible for the differences in the rate of prior ECCD participation between public and private schools, and between children in urban and rural schools. Most private schools have one or two years of "pre-primary" or "reception" classes that they require children to attend before they can be admitted into Standard 1. Furthermore, admission policies of private schools generally stipulate a requirement that pupils should have pre-school experience. Report cards from pre-schools are required as proof that children attended school at that level, and also to assess their performance before they can be admitted directly into Standard 1.

With attendance being of urban children being twice that of rural children, differences in the level of pre-school attendance in between the urban and rural public schools is significant. One of the reasons for this disparity is that ECCD service in Botswana is mostly provided as a private initiative at a high cost to parents, or by NGOs also for a significant fee. With the exception of parents who elect to pay high fees for their children in private schools, most parents in the rural areas cannot afford ECCD fees. Indeed, there here are some ECCD facilities that are run be churches and local authorities for a minimal fee. Even though these are highly in demand, they cater for only a small proportion of eligible children. As a result, the home still largely remains as an alternative means of ECCD provision in the rural areas, where grandparents and other relatives look after the children while their parents are involved in economic activities outside the home. It was not possible to provide information on disadvantaged children, or children with disabilities for this indicator due to the fact that education statistics do not capture this information.

Limitations of the ECCD Indicators

There are many kinds of programmes that provide early childhood care and education in Botswana. All these programmes were supposed to be assessed against the standard that they "consist of organised and sustained school-based or centre-based activities designed to foster learning and the emotional and social development of children" (EFA 2000 Assessment Technical Guidelines, 1998, p.8). Only a few of the service providers, mainly the kind that are organised in primary schools as pre-school or reception classes, will meet that standard. The majority of other service providers include local NGOs who depend on donor funding, playgroups or babysitting services, and more importantly, care providers that are based in their homes. These may not be up to the standard that is required under the EFA Guidelines.

Furthermore, the guidelines do not provide clear guidance on what to look for when assessing the ECCD programmes that are to be counted as sustained service providers. Hence it will be difficult to assess the level of education that takes place in most of the ECCD facilities, which means that the reliability of the enrolment data will be questionable. A more fundamental problem with the ECCD indicators as stipulated in the guidelines is that they undermine the efforts of ECCD service providers in the home. Children who receive quality care in the home from the extended family while their parents are involved in economic activities outside the home are not taken into account in this indicator.

7.3 General Assessment of Progress on ECCD

Botswana has taken definitive steps in opening up the dialogue on the provision of ECCD in the past decade. The RNPE has a number of recommendations for ECCD. Most of the recommendations were deferred, which means that they were accepted in principle even though they would not be implemented within the framework of the present policy. The recommendations which were deferred dealt with the following issues;

(Recommendation 7, RNPE, Government of Botswana, 1994)

The rest of the deferred recommendations were fell away with the non-acceptance of Recommendation 7 since they provided strategies on its implementation.

Government has made a commitment to provide an enabling environment for those who are involved in proving the ECCD. This commitment was demonstrated by implementation the RNPE pre-primary recommendations that were accepted. The following actions have already been taken:

Recommendations that address the development of the pre-primary school curriculum and strengthening the Curriculum Development Unit in preparation for taking on the added responsibility have not yet been implemented.

A multi-faceted and multi-sectoral approach to the provision of ECCD is necessary especially for targeting children of disadvantaged groups. The Women’s Affairs Department (WAD) is spearheading one such effort under their National Gender Programme Framework. WAD has proposed measures for providing ECCD for poor and disadvantaged women such that their time can be freed for other productive activities.

7.4 Effectiveness of the ECCD Strategy

The strategy that was adopted for ECCD level was for MOE to assume the co-ordination role, provide support in curriculum development activities, and also provide avenues for training and professional development of teachers at this level. This strategy appears to be a sound one, especially for the rural areas where communities can be encouraged to take over the ownership of ECCD by initiating services that suit their local situations. However, the strategy has not been fully implemented, given that provision of ECCD has just been incorporated in education policy.

A major problem that can already be anticipated with the strategy is that of having the private and non-governmental sector as the main ECCD service providers. This means that for some time to come, ECCD will only be a prerogative of the few that can afford it. In addition, progress reports on the implementation of the RNPE reveal that very little has been done on the implementation of ECCD recommendations.

7.5 Main Problems of ECCD

There are two major problems in ECCD. The first one is the lack of information on the existing ECCD facilities in different parts of the country. No standard procedure has been developed to capture information on ECCD as it has been done for other levels of education. As a result, different councils have various mechanisms for registration of ECCD facilities. For instance, the Gaborone City Council requires that pre-school service providers should renew their licence every year. This is not a requirement in other councils, hence some ECCD service providers that stopped operating a long time ago still exist in the register. Another problem emanating from the absence of a comprehensive ECCD register is that it is impossible to estimate ECCD enrolment in the country. As a result the nature and characteristics of ECCD pupils is not well documented. Other problems include gross disparities in the quality of ECCD facilities, teacher qualifications, and the quality of the service that is provided.

8.0 Universal Primary and Basic Education

Target Dimension 2 - Universal access to, and completion of primary and basic education by the year 2000.

One of the goals of the NPE in 1977 was the provision of nine years of basic education for all. The structure of basic education was 7 years of primary and 2 years of junior secondary, which culminated in attaining a Junior Certificate qualification. Prior to the 1977 NPE recommendation basic education was synonymous to 7 years of primary education. Only a small fraction those who passed the primary cycle found places to pursue 3 years of junior secondary education. The adoption of the Nine-Year basic education cycle formed the basis for planning for education services in the subsequent years. A strategy increased partnership between government and communities in establishing and managing Community Junior Secondary Schools (CJSSs) was adopted.

8.1 Baseline Description on Universal Access to Primary and/or Basic Education before 1990

8.1.1 The Primary Level

The primary school level has recorded the highest levels of participation in Botswana. However, high participation rates have extended to the entire basic education phase in the decade following the Jomtien Conference. Several indicators are used to assess progress at this level. These include intake rates, enrolment rates, expenditure on education, both in terms of money spent on attendees, infrastructure, and human capital, measures of the internal efficiency of the primary system, and measures of impact or effectiveness of the system.

At the time of the formulation of NPE of 1977, enrolment at the primary level had increased by 74% since 1966 at independence (Education for Kagisano, 1977). Characteristically, the rapid quantitative expansion imposed strains on all aspects of provision of this service. The NPE of 1977 identified as major problems, inadequate emphasis in terms of access to the provision of primary education service particularly in rural locales, the quality of education, and the cost of primary education as compared to secondary education.

A non-exhaustive list of additional achievements of the education sector in the period of NPE implementation included:

Assessment of progress towards attainment of goals of the primary sector has utilized secondary data analysis from the 1997 Education Statistics Report, as described in the methodology of the report (Appendix D).

8.1.2 The Junior Secondary Level

Establishment of CJSSs expanded rapidly throughout the 1980s in terms of the number of schools that were built, and the number of pupils enrolled at this level. Achievements in the provision of education at the junior secondary level included:

At the time of the Jomtien conference the goal was to attain 100% progression to the junior secondary level. There was a realisation however, that it would not be possible to pursue years of basic education solely through schooling if all Batswana were to be reached, hence parallel programmes in the non-formal education sector were developed for out-of-school youth and adults. New goals were set for the primary education level in the early and mid-nineties, some of which have been achieved, while work to achieve others is continuing through NDP 8.

8.2 Progress Towards Basic Education Goals and Targets

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has routinely collected education data at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels since 1979. A number of indicators were calculated for the primary level using those data. These include intake and enrolment indicators, internal efficiency indicators, indicators on expenditure, indicators on human resource development, particularly teacher qualifications. Pupil-teacher ratios and measures of class size are also included. Most of these indicators were computed for the primary level using 1997 data from the Education Statistic publication. Enrolment and dropout patterns were investigated for the CJSS level. Indicators on teacher qualifications, pupil-teacher ratios and measures of class size could not be computed due to the fact that teachers transfer back and forth between the and junior secondary and senior secondary levels.

8.2.1 Intake and Enrolment Rates

Two indicators used to measure intake rates are the Gross Intake Rates (GIR), and the Net Intake Rate (NIR), while the two that measure enrollment rates are Gross Enrollment Rates (GER) and Net Enrollment Rates (NER). GIR reflects the general level of access to primary education in terms on new intake, regardless of age, while NIR indicates the eligible population in terms of age, that have been admitted. GER deals with enrollment at all grades, and has the same interpretation as GIR. Similarly, NER covers enrollment at all grades, and has the same interpretation as NIR for the official primary school age population (7-13 year olds). Table 4 presents the GIR, NIR, GER and NER in the primary schools 1997.

Table 1: Gross and Net Intake and Enrolment Rates for Primary Education, 1997

Total Female Male
Gross Intake Rate (GIR) 136.5 133.5 139.6
Net Intake Rate (NIR) 62.4 63.1 61.7
Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) 118.3 117.6 119.1
Net Enrolment Ratio (NER) 98.4 99.2 97.5

Source: Education Statistics Report, Government of Botswana, 1997

In 1997, the national gross intake rate was 136.5, while the national net intake rate was 62.4. This means that in 1997, the primary system in Botswana admitted only 62.4% of the 7-year olds. About an equal number of children admitted were either 6 or 8 years of age, which is why the national gross intake rate was 136.5.

The GIR for females is 133.5 as compared to 139.6 for males. On NIR, females have a slightly higher rate of 63.1, while the rate for males is 62.4. In absolute terms, more females than males entered the primary system at 7 years of age in 1997. Further interrogation of the data show that a higher percentage of girls than boys started school earlier (23.1% for girls compared to 19.1% for boys), while a lower percentage of girls than boys started school at 8 years old or later (29.6% for girls compared to 36.7% for boys).

The official school-going age is not strictly adhered to in Botswana, which explains a low net intake rate of 62.4. Some parents, particularly those in the urban centres, prefer to have their children start school earlier that the official school-going age. Conversely, some parents in the rural areas enroll children in school when they are about one or two years older than the school-going age. A pattern similar to that of the intake rates was observed in the enrolment rates of all the grades at the primary level in 1997 as shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3: Primary School Gross and Net Enrolment Ratio

Source: Education Statistics Report, Government of Botswana, 1997

In 1997, the primary education level in Botswana enrolled nearly all children (98.4%) that are eligible to be in primary school (7-13 years old having been used as the official primary school-going age). However, a significant number of those who were enrolled were either younger than 7, or older than 13 years of age, hence the GER that exceeded 100%. A pattern similar to that of the intake rates was observed in the enrolment rates when the data was disaggregated by sex. That is, more females than males of the official primary school age of 7 - 13 years were attending primary school in 1997, while more males than females who fell outside this age were in the system. For males, this happens to be children who were older than 13 years.

When it is compared to a GER of 118.3, a GIR of 136.6 indicates that a higher proportion of children who were not of official age were children who were being admitted into the primary school level at Standard 1 for the first time. This implies that a substantial number of children may not have been accessing primary education as they were expected to, thus creating a backlog of children at Standard 1who are supposed to have already been in the system.

Also having used data that spans a number of years, the time series chart shows a steady increase in the gross and net enrolment rates since the beginning of the 1990s decade. The difference between gross and net enrolment rates has also been more or less constant, which may suggest than Botswana did not perform any more or less at attracting and admitting more children in school than she was already doing.

The time series in Figure 4 below shows an upward trend for both the gross and net enrolment rates for both males and females. The female net enrolment was higher than the male enrolment rate for all the seven years in the series. However, the male gross enrolment was lower during the first three years of the series, and higher in the last four years. This suggests that the number of males outside the official primary school-going age has been increasing at a higher rate than that of females.

Figure 4: Primary school gross and net enrolment rates, by sex

Source: Education Statistics Report, Government of Botswana, 1997

For purposes of educational planning, access should be increased at the lower levels so that all of the children that present themselves for registration into the primary level are accommodated. Optimal use of the accelerated promotion policy as outlined in the RNPE could help relieve the backlog after the children are in the system. Information on intake rates can also be used to identify environments which have high or low intake rates. Intake patterns may have pedagogical implications. They may also be highlighting cultural differences, and may in turn have implications for teacher preparation.

Rapid expansion of the CJSSs in the 1990s resulted in increased enrolments. Figure 5 below shows an increasing trend in CJSS school enrolments. While it is evident that the number of those that enrolled doubled, it is not clear if the rate of enrolment increased. The figure also indicates a higher enrolment of girls compared to boys.

Figure 5: Overall, Trend analysis of enrolment by sex, 1990 - 1997

Source: Education Statistics Report, Government of Botswana, 1997

Even though enrolment had risen over the years, participation in the junior secondary cycle of basic education was much lower than participation in the primary cycle. Table 5 below shows gross and net enrolment rates for the junior secondary level in 1997.

Table 2: Gross and Net Enrolment Rates for Junior Secondary Level for 1997

Total Female Male
Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) 99.7 104.7 94.5
Net Enrollment Ratio (NER) 52.6 58.1 47.1

Source: Education Statistics Report, Government of Botswana, 1997

Only half of the population that was eligible for junior secondary were enrolled in 1997 (NER of 52.6% compared to the desirable figure of 100%). These individuals also constituted about half of all those participated in schooling at this level (NER of 52.6% compared to GER of 99.7%). Participation of females was significantly higher than participation of males (58.1% compared to 47.1%) for those of junior secondary going age. Participation of females was also significantly higher than participation of males (104.7% compared to 94.5%) for learners of all ages. Even though participation rates were generally lower, places were available for all those who expressed the desire to enrol in Form 1 in the same year.

Limitations of Intake and Enrolment Indicators

Population statistics and age-specific information is required when calculating intake and enrolment indicators. The last population census in Botswana was in 1991. Projections from these census data have since not been adjusted for urban/rural migration, for instance. This means that urban gross and net enrolments could be slightly overestimated if it turns out that the actual population figures are higher than the projected figures. Age specific projections may introduce additional error in rural areas where birth records may not be accurate. Indicators that use age-specific information may be affected by other factors, such as typical or usual practice, or change in policy as did occur in Botswana.

For instance, the RNPE changed the official school-going age from 7 years old to 6 years old in 1996. This means that the GIR and NIR should have been calculated using the official school-going age of 6 years old. Similarly, the GER and NER should have been computed using the official primary school-going age of 6-12 years old. However, 1997 data showed a mode of 7 years of age, an expected occurrence since the new policy was announced well into the school year when the 6-year cohort was preparing to enroll in school in the following year. Hence the decision to use 7 years as the official school-going age did not follow policy, but was a rationalized one. This is a limitation of the GIR, NIR, GER, and NER indicators.

8.2.2 Internal Efficiency of the Primary School System

In addition to intake and enrolment indicators which measure the extent to which the school system is able to provide access to children who are in need of the education service, internal efficiency indicators provide information on the "holding power" of the system. Indicators of internal efficiency include the progression, survival, repetition and dropout rates, and the coefficient of efficiency. The promotion rate is the number of children who are promoted from one grade to the next, including repeaters.

The survival rate is the promotion rate of a given cohort, and therefore excludes repeaters in each grade. The repetition rate is the percentage of children who repeat a grade once or more, while the dropout rate indicate the number of children who completely drop out of the system.

The coefficient of efficiency is a measure of how efficient the system is. Conceptually, it is the ideal number of years that a given cohort needs to graduate from a particular level, expressed as a percentage of the number of years that the cohort actually took to graduate. This indicator is affected by the repetition rates, the number of times that each student repeats, and dropout or wastage rate. The coefficient of efficiency is, of necessity, affected by policy decisions about repetition, and is seriously undermined if the system has a high dropout rate.

For instance, extending the trend of repetition rates back to the period of NPE implementation shows a steady decline from nearly 7.0% in 1983, to about 3.0% in 1997 as shown in Figure 6. The average repetition rate for the 1980s decade (1982 –1991), was 5.6%. This figure was at its lowest at 2.7% in 1993. However, it increased again to 3.5% in 1995.

The reason for the increase might be the change in repetition policy that was introduced in 1994. The policy that was operational prior to 1994 was that of automatic promotion from one grade to the next, with repetition being only allowed at Standard 4. With automatic promotion, teachers could retain children who showed deficits in attaining basic literacy and numeracy skills only at Standard 4.

Figure 6: Overall repetition rates for the primary level, 1982 - 1997

Source: Education Statistics Report, Government of Botswana, 1992 : 1997

Even though the new policy of assessed progression has not been officially implemented, the non-repetition rule has been somewhat relaxed in anticipation of new policy. Assessed progression will allow repetition of up to 12.5% of each class. While the general trend was that repetitions were increasing on one hand, the most disturbing feature is that the dropout rate has been increasing consistently over the years, and stood at an all time high of 3.5% in 1997. A comparison of the trend on repetition and dropout rates is presented in Figure 7.

Figure 7: Repetition and dropout trends for grades 1 to 7, 1991-1997.

Source: Education Statistics Report, Government of Botswana, 1997

For every 1000 children, there were 47 repetitions, while only 10 dropped out of the primary level in 1991. The rates were about equal from 1993 to 1995. However, there were more children dropping out of school than those repeating in 1997 (35 and 30, respectively). Another trend was that the dropout rate was higher in the rural areas compared to urban areas as illustrated in Figure 8 below which presents dropouts by locality the period between 1995 and 1997.

Figure 8: Dropouts by locality, 1995-1997

Source: Education Statistics Report, Government of Botswana, 1997

Figure 9 shows a significant difference in the dropout rate between urban and rural areas. It also shows that the dropout rate for the urban areas is decreasing, while that of the rural

areas is increasing. A possible explanation could be high poverty levels in the rural areas compared to urban areas (BIDPA, 1997). The 1997 poverty study generally shows that access to education has not yet translated to betterment of people’s lives in that poverty levels are higher than before (BIDPA, 1997). Dropouts however, undermine the overall efficiency of the primary education system in somewhat predictable ways when compared to promotion and survival. Figure 8 presents the promotion and survival rates, and the coefficient of efficiency for the period 1991 to 1997.

The effect of an increasing dropout rate is that the promotion and survival rates from one grade to the next decrease as shown above. This reduces the overall internal efficiency of the primary education level as can be observed from the decreasing coefficient of efficiency. The loss of internal efficiency of the primary education system has to be understood in context with factors, such as enrolment, and the actual realities of trying to reach the remaining children before universal primary education can be achieved.

Figure 9: Promotion rates, survival rates, and the coefficient of efficiency, 1991-1997

Source: Education Statistics Report, Government of Botswana, 1997

With primary education in Botswana being nearly universal (98.4% net enrolment rate), the marginal cost of education has increased as education services are being taken to more rural and remote areas. Also, these rural and remote populations are the most difficult to retain in school. This is one of the reasons why the system has continued to experience high dropout rates. In order to maintain efficiency in the primary school system, extra investment to should go towards programmes geared towards encouraging remote populations to remain in school. These include re-packaging the curriculum for children in remote areas, developing culturally sensitive curriculum materials, and making learning interesting for them. It also means improving boarding facilities for children in remote settlements who must live in hostels away from home for their entire primary education. Recommendation 15 of the RNPE calls for this kind of action. A partnership between UNICEF and MOE has been effected for implementation of Recommendation 15.

In an attempt to curtail the dropout problem and restore confidence in the efficiency of the primary education system, a strategy the could be employed would be to implement of some of the RNPE recommendations ahead of schedule for the disadvantaged populations, especially the children of the RADs. Recommendations which should be considered for this kind of action include improving the schools by adding the essential physical facilities (Recommendation 14) training and deploying of school psychologists (Recommendation 19c) equipping schools with remedial teachers (Recommendation 23c), among others.

8.2.3 Primary School Teachers

The primary school teaching force was made up of 12 977 teachers in 1997. Teachers are among the most important resources in the education of children. In most developing countries, the quality of teaching that children receive has an overwhelming influence on the overall quality of their education and preparation. In Botswana some empirical evidence has shown a positive relationship between the number of trained teachers in a primary school, and students’ achievement in the Primary School Leaving Examination (Government of Botswana, 1977). The quality of instruction and the quality of the interaction between teachers and students are also significant factors in determining school effectiveness (Chilisa, 1995). Therefore, teacher training and preparation, and teacher motivation have been singled out as areas that need improvement.

Two indicators of the general quality of primary school teachers will be used, namely the percentage of teachers who have the required academic qualification, and the percentage of teachers who are certified to teach according to national standards in Botswana. The indicator on academic qualifications indicates the general quality of Botswana’s human capital involved in primary education, while professional teacher qualifications indicate the country’s commitment to invest in developing that human capital.

Academic Qualifications of Primary School Teachers

The highest academic qualification for the majority of primary school teachers throughout most of the NPE period was Junior Certificate (obtained after 9 or 10 years of education, depending on when individuals would have obtained their JC). This was the minimum qualification for entry into the teaching profession. A significant number of teachers had a higher qualification, the Senior Secondary School Certificate (SSSC), while a few others had a lower academic qualification of Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) as their highest academic qualification.

An important component of the primary teaching force in the 1990s was the contribution of National Service participants, also known as Tirelo Sechaba participants (TSPs). After their last year of secondary school, as many students who are successful in their SSSC as there are places to absorb them were encouraged to participate in Tirelo Sechaba. TSPs were placed into the different government sectors, the education sector being one. In 1997, 1523 TSPs were part of the teaching force. In most urban schools TSPs were not solely responsible for a class. Instead they were paired with an experienced teacher or teamed up with other TSPs, where they shared teaching duties among themselves. Even though they provided an invaluable service, and indeed provide the necessary relief where shortages exist, TSPs were not necessarily part of the teaching establishment.

Compared to other developing countries that have made similar achievements in providing basic education, the standard of the primary school teaching force in Botswana remained relatively low. As a result, the RNPE of 1994 recommended that the minimum academic qualification for admission into the teaching profession be raised to SSSC (or its equivalent). In 1997, the primary school teaching force was made up of 12 977 teachers. 22.4% of the teachers taught in the urban areas, while the remaining 77.6% taught in the rural areas. Table 6 below uses the 1997 data to show the effect of the RNPE recommendation on teacher academic qualifications.

Table 3: Primary teachers with minimum academic qualification in 1997, applying the old and new policies




In 1997 when the JC Minimum Academic Qualification is used

Primary Teachers




In 1997 with the SSSC Minimum Academic Qualification

Primary Teachers




Source: Education Statistics Report, Government of Botswana, 1997

Only 17.1% of primary school teachers had the required minimum academic qualification of Senior Secondary School Certificate in 1997. The percentage of primary school teachers who had attained the minimum academic qualification of JC in the old dispensation were contrasted with those who had the minimum academic qualification of SSSC under the policy of a higher academic qualification. When the JC minimum qualification was used to compute the indicator, it went up 93.7% The difference between rural and urban populations is negligible. Even though the teaching force was made more female teachers (81.6%), the overall percentage of male teachers that attained the minimum academic qualification was 19.0%, compared to only 7.8% for female teachers as shown in Figure 10.

Figure 10: Primary School Teachers that attained the Minimum COSC Academic Qualification by sex and locality

Source: Education Statistics Report, Government of Botswana, 1997

With the percentage of male teachers being 41.6% compared to 14.0% females, there are 3 males to 1 academically qualified female in the urban areas. The proportion qualified males to qualified females is about equal in the rural areas. Reasons for this sex disparity are not clear.

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