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Professional Qualification and Certification of Primary School Teachers

Historically, training of primary school teachers was primarily the responsibility of the Teacher Training Colleges (TTCs). Over the years, the TTCs have awarded four different kinds of teaching certificates; the Elementary Teachers Certificate (ETC), Primary Lower (PL), Primary Higher (PH), and Primary Teacher Certificate (PTC). All TTCs have recently been upgraded to Colleges of Education following the RNPE recommendations on raising of teacher qualifications to the Diploma level. The Colleges of Education and the University of Botswana (UB) currently share the responsibility of training and certifying teachers. Four Colleges of Education train teachers for the primary level, while two are responsible for the junior secondary school level. The minimum requirement for teacher trainees for both primary and junior secondary Colleges of Education is the SSSC, while the minimum teacher profesional qualification is Diploma.

After 3 years of full-time study, the Colleges of Education award a Diploma qualification (equivalent to an Associate Degree) as certification to teach either in primary or junior secondary schools, while the University of Botswana (UB) awards a Bachelors in Education degree qualification. Using the 1997 data, Table 7 below shows the percentage of primary school teachers who were certified to teach when the certificate qualification was the recognised minimum. This is contrasted with the percentage of primary school teachers who were certified to teach when the certificate the RNPE recommendation.

Table 1: Primary teachers with a teacher certification in 1997, applying the old and new policies




In 1997 with a Diploma (or higher) Teaching Qualification

Primary Teachers




In 1997 with a Certificate Teaching Qualification

Primary Teachers




Source: Education Statistics Report, Government of Botswana, 1997

The percentage of primary school teachers who were certified to teach according to the new national standard in Botswana was only 3.7 in 1997. In urban areas, the percentage was slightly higher at 7.9%, and lower in the rural areas, 2.8%. With the minimum of a certificate qualification, 19.9% of primary school teachers in rural areas were untrained, while the urban centres registered only an average of 6.2% untrained teachers. In fact, the first NPE noted a pattern of poorer provision of educational resources in rural and remote areas in 1977, with the exception of favourable pupil-teacher ratios for remote areas. This pattern persisted throughout the NPE implementation period, into the 1990s. Figure 11 below shows excess and deficits in trained teachers in four urban areas and four rural areas.

Figure 1: Trained Teachers in four urban and four rural localities

Source: Education Statistics Report, Government of Botswana, 1997

These urban areas registered the highest excess in the number of trained teachers while rural areas had the highest number of untrained teachers. The data showed a general trend of an excess of trained teachers in urban areas, and a deficit in rural areas. The four urban areas which had trained teachers in excess of the required number were are reflected above. Orapa and Jwaneng, the towns with the highest number of trained teachers, are diamond mining towns which have privately run schools. The mining company is responsible for training its own teachers, and staffing the schools. A wastage of resources is recorded for Gaborone and Lobatse. Possible explanations for this excess could be teachers who were placed or transferred to rural areas and could not take those placements for a variety of reasons. The rural areas that were shown to have the highest shortage of trained teachers were those that are far from urban centres, some in the remotest areas of the Kgalagadi Desert (North Kgalagadi).

One of the reasons why there are more qualified teachers in the urban areas than rural areas is that there are more private English medium primary schools in the urban areas which employ more academically and professionally qualified teachers than those found in the public schools. Another explanation for this disparity could also be that the more educated teachers have more choices available to them in terms of alternative employment, hence they tend to leave government service for private schools in the urban centres. It could be that since urban areas have more opportunities and facilities for engaging in part-time studies than rural areas, those who are inclined to want to meet the challenges of developing themselves professionally through part-time study request to be placed in the urban centres.

Following the recommendation to have the Senior Secondary School Certificate as the minimum academic qualification for primary school teachers, and to have the minimum professional qualification of Diploma in Primary Education, new programme plans to upgrade primary school teachers to a Diploma qualification have been finalised. The Centre for Continuing Education (CCE) at the University of Botswana (UB) has developed a distance education programme for teachers. The curriculum content of the programme is aimed at improving both the subject matter, and the professional qualification of teachers.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio (PTR)

Pupil-teacher ratio is the average number of pupils per teacher at a given period of time. It is used to measure the level of human resource input in terms of the number of teachers in relation to pupil population size (EFA Technical Guidelines, UNESCO, 1998). Teachers are an important resource in that they are the persons who guide and direct pupils’ learning experiences. Figure 12 shows a pupil-teacher ratio of more than 32 pupils to a teacher in 1991 for the whole country. This figure declined steadily over the years to about 28 pupils to a teacher in 1997.

Figure 2: Pupil Teacher Ratio 1991 - 1997

Source: Education Statistics Report, Government of Botswana, 1997

Figure 13 presents the primary school pupil-teacher ratios in 1997 by school ownership and locality. At 28.2 and 28.1, there were no difference between the PTR of urban and rural schools. However, urban/rural differences in PTR were apparent when public and private schools were considered separately. In the urban areas, public schools had a high PTR of 31.9 compared to 28.4 in the rural areas. The opposite was true for private schools, where urban schools had a PTR of 17.1 compared to 19.8 in the rural schools.

Figure 3: 1997 Pupil Teacher Ratios by location and school ownership

Source: Education Statistics Report, Government of Botswana, 1997

Of all the indicators that have been discussed so far, pupil-teacher ratio is the only indicator in which rural schools have an advantage over urban schools, given that it is desirable for teachers to teach a fewer number of children. However, the pupil-teacher ratio indicator is misleading because being an average, it fails to take class size into account. PTR makes sense if it is interpreted together with class size. In addition to their training, qualifications, teaching resources and other variations in classroom conditions, teachers are generally more effective with smaller rather than larger class sizes. A smaller class size is desirable because it facilitates for better access of pupils to the teacher, and provides an opportunity for better achievement of learning objectives. Figure 14 indicates the percentage of classes of a given size in urban and rural areas.

Figure 4: Percentage of class size by location

Source: Education Statistics Report, 1997

Only 9.6% (28 out of 293) of classes with the smallest number of students were found in the urban areas compared to 90.4% in the rural areas. In contrast, 65.6% (21 out of 32) of classes with the largest number of students were found in the urban areas compared to 34.4% in the rural areas. The most common class size for both the urban and rural areas (about 50% of the classes in each case) was 26 to 35 students. The distribution in Figure 15 is the distribution of classes in urban and rural areas.

The majority of classes of size 26 to 35 students are in the rural areas (74.7% compared to 62.0% in the urban areas). However, there are significantly more large size classes in the urban areas. 25.0% of classes with 36 or more students are in the urban areas, compared to only 5.2% in the rural areas. Conversely, there are twice as many classes of the smallest size in urban areas than in rural areas.

Figure 5: Distribution of class size by location

Source: Education Statistics Report, Government of Botswana, 1997

On the whole, Botswana has experienced notable improvements in reducing class-size in the 1990s. Indeed, the class size indicator favours schools in the rural areas. One possible explanation is the low population density in some rural areas, coupled with long distances between schools. Because of these factors, the government has built many schools in the rural areas in order to cut down on the distances that children have to walk to school.

Another explanation for this is the policy mandates that when the 41st student is registered in any class, the school should declare their need for an additional teacher to the regional education office. This policy has not always been enforced in urban areas, particularly in areas where schools do not want to risk being allocated an untrained teacher. This partially explains why the primary school system still has classes that have 46 or more students, particularly in the urban areas. A new goal to reduce class size from 40 to 30 was declared in the mid-1990s. In addition to reducing class size, new classrooms will be built in schools with shortages of classrooms in the current planning period (NDP 8).

Limitations of the Indicators

PTR is an arithmetic mean, and therefore a simple average. It has to be interpreted with class size, particularly where there are serious disparities in class size, either due to high or low population densities. The PTR has to be interpreted cautiously when there is double-shifting (or platooning) in the system. In some countries teachers are allowed to teach two classes a day at a fraction of the cost of providing a second teacher, in order to cut down costs of teacher salaries. Such cases may inflate the PTR statistic. In Botswana however, double-shifting is used because of classroom shortages. Teachers are employed to teach only one class a day, which suggests that the PTR statistic in this report is a close estimate of the actual PTR. However it could still be possible that the statistic is inflated if the total number of teachers is inflated due to double counting of day teachers who find additional employment in night private schools.

8.2.4 Education Expenditure

Education has consistently enjoyed a favoured position in the allocation of the national budget since independence. Expenditure in education increased substantially since the implementation period of NPE, when the attainment of universal primary education became a national goal and a priority. For instance, one of the strategies that was used to encourage participation in primary school was to abolish school fees at that level in 1980. Since then, primary school enrolments have continued to grow and stood at an NER of 98.7%. Increase in enrolments at the primary and junior secondary levels have also been translated into increase of Government expenditure on education. The share of the national budget that has gone to education has averaged 22% in the 1990s, with the 1999 allocation to education being 25%. Figure 16 shows the development expenditure for NDP 8.

Figure 6: Development Expenditure for Education, NDP 8

Expenditure data compiled by Department of Research Statistics and Planning, 1999

The cost of improving primary and secondary schools alone amounts to more than 50% of the development budget. Other costs that are incurred for infrastructure that supports basic education go towards teacher training. On the other hand, commitment to universal primary education gained renewed impetus in the decade following the Jomtien Conference as demonstrated by the allocation of an average of 23.8% of the education budget to primary education. Figure 17 below is a trend analysis of expenditure on primary education in the decade since Jomtien Conference.

Figure 7: Expenditure on Primary Education 1990 - 1999

Expenditure data compiled by Department of Research Statistics and Planning, 1999

Expenses on teachers’ salaries, supplies, administration costs have remained constant throughout the decade. Teachers’ salaries have taken up on average 80.2% of the budget allocated to primary education, while teaching and learning materials have averaged 16.2%. About 3.6% of the budget was spent on administration of primary education (e.g. inspection). Substantial increase, from P259 in 1990 to P1110 in 1999, is observed in the unit cost of primary education since Jomtien.

Figure 8: Primary School Expenditure per child, 1990 -1999

A highest increase in unit cost between two years occurred from 1995 to 1996. This was the time when the implementation of the RNPE recommendations finally got underway.

Public expenditure on primary education as a share of the GDP has been consistently around 1%. Education is free in Botswana. This means that no fees are charged for tuition, teaching and learning material, boarding (where it exists) co-curricular activities and meals provided at the school. At the primary school level, parents’ contribution to education consists of a nominal Parents Teachers Association (PTA) levy to cover the cost of preparing the school meal.

9.0 Improvement in Learning Achievement

Target 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

The first National Commission on Education envisaged the task of primary schooling as providing "the foundation of basic competencies that will prepare the child for continued in-school and out-of-school learning for social and economic life in a modernising society". Evidence gathered by the commission at that point revealed that:

actual learning achievement of many of those reaching Standard 7 under the automatic promotion system is very low… Many children are virtually illiterate at Standard 7… The number who cannot read the most simple sentence is as high as thirty or forty percent. Because there is no check on performance at each grade, both children and teachers in the lower grades have no means of measuring learning attainment and how far this is above or below what is normal (Education for Kagisano, 1977).

A major policy issue therefore was to ensure that children learn meaningful skills while at school, and that those who were not in school were provided the opportunity to acquire those skills.

9.1 Baseline description for Improvement in Learning and Achievement

NPE made recommendations towards improving the content of what is learned at school, and effecting mechanisms to insure monitoring of learning achievement. Action which was subsequently taken towards implementation of those recommendations included:

The attainment test battery is a curriculum-based test. It is used a minimum competencies test, even though it is ideally not a minimum competencies test.. The battery consists of a numeracy test, and two tests of basic literacy skills, one in Setswana and the other in English. The tests were developed centrally by the then Research and Testing Centre, a unit of the Curriculum Development and Evaluation Department, and administered by Standard 4 class teachers in the respective schools. The results of these tests were used to make decisions on whether to promote students to the next grade, or retain them to strengthen their basic literacy and numeracy skills. An addition to being mid-point in the primary cycle, administering the tests at Standard 4 was important in that it was a point after which the medium of instruction would switch from Setswana to English.

During the time of the first NCE, the PSLE was newly localised from being a regional test (Botswana. Lesotho, and Swaziland). The JCE was also an end-of-cycle test, being administered at the end of junior secondary. Currently, the PSLE is a criterion-referenced test, and the JCE a test that comes at the end of basic education, 10 years after they were first enrolled in school for the majority of students. This test is a norm-referenced achievement test which is used primarily for selecting students for the senior secondary level.

9.2 Progress Towards Goals and Targets on Learning Achievement

Learning achievement in Botswana is assessed primarily through classroom tests, and the afore-mentioned external examinations. Information on the success of using the Standard 4 attainment tests for monitoring learning achievement tests has, to date, been very scanty. Teacher records of Standard 4 pupils’ test scores is the only direct evidence that the tests are being used in schools. A corroborating source of evidence, is the high Standard 4 repetition rates (as compared to repetition rates of other primary grade levels) that are published in the Education Statistics Bulletin. It is presumed that the high repetition rates come about as a result of forced retention of children who do not attain the pass mark of 50% on the attainment tests. The survival rates to Standard 5, can therefore be used as a proxy for actual learning achievement measures for the NPE implementation period.

The survival rate is the percentage of a cohort of pupils who enrolled in the first grade of primary education in a given school-year who eventually reach Standard 5. In 1996 the survival rate to Standard 5 was 85.7% for all pupils, 83.7% for males and 87.6% for females. The survival rate to Standard 7 in 1998 was 85.7% for all pupils, 83.7% for males and 87.6% for females. These are pupils who enrolled in Standard 1 in 1992 and sat for a criterion-referenced PSLE at the end of the1998 school year.

The criterion-referenced PSLE consists of five subjects, Setswana, English, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies. Criteria for mastery for each subject were set during the test development process For reporting purposes, letter grades are attached to criteria of mastery. The percentage of pupils that attained a C criteria or higher in each of the five PLSE subjects was between 65% and 85%. These percentages are presented in Figure 19 by subjects and locality.

The data shows that for all PSLE subjects, a higher percentage of students in the urban areas than those in the rural areas attain the criteria of C or better. The order of differences from highest to lowest is English (15.2%), Science (12.7%), Mathematics (11.3%), Social Studies (8.9%) and Setswana (2.9%).

Figure 9: Percentage of pupils who master basic learning competencies (1998 PSLE)

Source: Primary School Leaving Examination Results, ERTD, Government of Botswana, 1998

Urban and rural differences in the percentage of children that attain the criteria of C or better can be explained by a number of factors. The highest difference is in English, while the lowest is Setswana, both language subjects. The most plausible explanation for the differences is the fact that a higher percentage of children in the urban areas hear and/or use English everyday. Some are fluent in English either because they use it as their first language, or because they attend English medium schools. Furthermore, English language is the medium of instruction and the language of the examination for the other three subjects. This means that mastery of English affects all subjects except Setswana. Inter-subject correlations on the percentages of children who attain a C criteria mastery seem to support the explanation about the role of language on performance as shown in Table 8.

Table 2: Inter-subject correlations on percentages of children attaining C criteria mastery































Source: Primary School Leaving Examination Results, ERTD, Government of Botswana, 1998

English correlates highly with Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies. A low correlation is obtained when Setswana is correlated with the same subjects. However, the correlation between English and Setswana is moderate. Simply stated, these correlations suggest that performance in English influences performance in Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies than it does performance in Setswana. Conversely, performance in Setswana does not have as great an influence on performance in Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies as it does English.

An explanation for the difference in other subjects may include the exposure to facilities and resources that stimulate learning (e.g TV, computers) and allocation of instructional and support material in the urban schools as compared to rural schools, and the higher percentage of untrained teachers in rural areas.

9.3 Assessment of Progress Towards Improvement of Learning Outcomes

The goals and objectives which were planned for improvement of learning achievement and outcomes were, among others, to develop and implement criterion-referenced testing procedures for the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) to replace the norm-referenced test. This goal has been realised. With the introduction of the criterion-referenced test, the results of the PSLE are primarily used to provide a student entry profile at the beginning of the Junior Secondary phase, and secondarily as a selection mechanism since a 100% progression rate to the junior secondary level has not yet been achieved. However, the introduction of a criterion-referenced PSLE, and training teachers and other educators and stakeholders on CRT procedures, was only a first step in a series of actions that have to be undertaken. If learning achievement is to improve in basic education, educators at the JCE level will have to be oriented in CRT procedures.

An objective to develop and implement criterion-referenced testing procedures for the Standard 4 attainment test was also set. Test development measures for the Standard 4 test were already in place at the beginning the 90s, while developing criteria or competencies for all curricula subjects is being incorporated in the syllabus revision process currently underway. Teachers have consistently used the Standard 4 scores to assess mastery of the basic skills, and have retained children who were showing deficiency in the skills.

Development of subject competencies at each level will assist teachers in providing concrete descriptions of the skills that each child has attained, and be able to pinpoint deficits, if any. With the continued implementation of the assessed progression policy, they will be in a position to identify children who have mastered grade specific skills at the end of each grade, and those who fell short. Identification of children who have not mastered grade-specific competencies will not be of any benefit to the learning process if the necessary follow-up action such as remedial teaching is not provided. Towards that end, efforts towards improving learning achievement will benefit from implementing policy on staffing schools with remedial teachers.

Progress on the introduction of continuous assessment procedures for the PSLE and Junior Certificate Examination (JCE) has been slow. However, the ERTD has begun to investigate the suitability of different CA models for Botswana’s education system. Once a suitable model has been selected or adapted, efforts to institutionalise CA will include training of teachers in the CA procedures, setting up a CA monitoring system, and updating the existing data analysis programs to accommodate the CA component. These activities are planned for the period of NDP 8.

The goal of establishing a fully-fledged autonomous National Examinations Council to perform both the administrative and professional duties related to examinations work should be interpreted against the background of the on-going process of localising the Cambridge School Certificate (CSC) examination. The ERTD is currently solely responsible for the development and administration of three examination programmes which are relatively less complex than the CSC examination. Localising the CSC will give form and shape to the goal of establishing the National Examination Council because of the size and complexity of the CSC examination.

Unlike the two of the three examination programmes that exist at the basic education phase, the Senior Secondary examination will cater for a much more diverse curriculum. Because of the diversity in subject choice, additional demands will be made on test development procedures, test administration, data capture, data cleaning, and data analysis. Interpretation concerns will include, among others, standard setting, reporting of the results to local and international audiences, and issuing of authentic transcripts. As the examinations establishment grow and the highstakes nature of the Senior Secondary phase becomes more of a reality, test security will increasingly become an issue. Intensive training in test development and marking using a phased-in approach commenced in 1996 will culminate in having all subjects being examined locally in 2001. These, and human resource capacity problems are only a few of the concerns that need to be taken into consideration as planning for the National Examinations Council proceeds.

9.4 Main problems encountered

A major constraint with regard to the Standard 4 attainment test is a continued lack of comprehensive evidence of how the test scores are being used beyond repetition decisions. One of the reasons for this deficiency is that the operational framework for using the test scores for monitoring and evaluation has not yet been institutionalised as an ERTD function. The effect of this shortcoming has been that the lower primary system does not get the feedback it desires for informed improvements to be made. With the commencement of the monitoring exercise, the Botswana version of Monitoring Learning Achievement (MLA) which commenced at Standard 4 in 1999, this situation is likely to be corrected soon.

Another constraint that has beleaguered the assessment of achievement of learning outcomes in the basic education system concerns the delay in developing continuous assessment (CA) procedures, and non-inclusion of classroom assessment and other qualitative information in calculating final grades in external examinations. Needless to say, the validity of using examination scores for certain decisions is diminished when the scores represent a measurement that was taken only on one occasion.

The ERTD has declared a goal to develop appropriate assessment procedures for children with disabilities during the current planning period. This development is long overdue. Unfortunately, no concrete action has been taken thus far. In the meantime, students with disabilities continue to sit for examinations of questionable validity as is the case with examinations that are translated into Braille for blind students, and those that are not adjusted to the correct vocabulary levels in the case of deaf students.

So far, efforts towards improvement of learning achievement and outcomes have all been geared towards the school system. Apart from providing the service of administering tests to candidates that register at private centres, it is not clear how these efforts are to be extended to other populations that are covered by the basic education phase. These are mostly students in the non-formal sector of education, the majority of which have additional responsibilities that can easily divert their attention from learning activities. Neither is it clear whose role it is to provide leadership in this area.

10.0 Reduction of Adult Illiteracy

Target Dimension 4 – Reduction of adult illiteracy rate with sufficient emphasis on female literacy to reduce the current disparities between male and female illiteracy rates.

10.1 Baseline description for Reduction of Adult Illiteracy

Education for Kagisano contained a substantial chapter on out-of-school education and gave high priority to its development. However, NPE deferred most of the Commission’s recommendations to a proposed White Paper on Non-Formal Education. Unfortunately, the policy on non-formal education was never produced with the result that the development of the sub-sector since 1977 has lacked direction and strategic planning. This is especially problematic because out-of-school education does not fall under the portfolio of a single ministry. Rather, it is directed at a variety of client groups at different educational levels and is provided by many different agencies.

A major initiative of out-of-school education has been the National Literacy Programme (NLP) run by the Ministry of Education’s Department of Non Formal Education (DNFE). Officially launched in 1981, NLP was the result of the work of a task force set up to investigate alternative ways providing basic education skills for the majority of Batswana aged over ten who were illiterate. The objectives of NLP as spelt out in the document entitled "The Eradication of Illiteracy in Botswana: A National Initiative" were:

To eradicate illiteracy and enable an estimated 250 000 illiterate adults and youth (40% of the population aged 15-45 years) to become literate in Setswana and numeracy within a period of six years (1980-185).

To enable participants to apply knowledge in developing their cultural, social and economic life. (Ministry of Education, 1980).

Figure 20 below presents the number of participants enrolled in the literacy programme from its inception in 1980, and throughout the 80s. Enrolment was at its highest between 1984 and 1986. This was the period when the impact of the new literacy program was beginning to be felt. However, there was a drop in enrolment in 1988. A possible explanation for the drop in enrolments is the drought that Botswana experienced in 1987. In the period following the drought, a number of labour-intensive drought relief programmes were introduced. Naturally, it is more likely that participants of the NLP, mostly the poor and non-literate people, was also the population which was targeted for drought relief assistance, hence the low NLP participation rates in 1988.

More women than men enrolled in the NLP. However, the preliminary figures of the 1991 census indicated that 31% of the adult population 16 years of age and above was still illiterate. The census data also showed that nearly three quarters of the adult population of the same age group lacked literacy skills, or did not complete their primary education. For those wishing to undertake part-time learning beyond the basic cycle of school education, there were relatively fewer opportunities for further general education or to follow work-related studies in the 1980s.

Figure 10: Enrolment on the National Literacy Programme, 1980-1989

Source: NDP 7, 1991

An important development was the declaration of the 90s as the ‘literacy decade" by the United Nations General Assembly. One of the most notable activities of the decade in Botswana was to conduct a comprehensive literacy survey in 1993. Other activities that were planned for the literacy decade under the NLP included Workplace Literacy Programmes, Income Generating Projects, and Village Reading Rooms, to mention a few.

Another effort of the DNFE was the provision of distance education at the JC level and COSC levels targeting out of school youth and adults. Partnerships were forged with different government and non-governmental agencies on a wide variety of extension programmes. These provided education for rural adults involved in traditional agriculture and the informal sector. However, all these efforts have not been adequate in addressing the needs of the out-of-school sector. Additional initiatives have to be in place in order to match the pace of the nation’s ever changing economic and social human development needs.

10.2 Progress Towards Goals and Targets of Increasing Adult Illiteracy

In 1993, the DNFE and CSO conducted the first ever literacy survey in the history of Botswana. The objectives of the literacy survey were:

Literacy was defined as the ability to read and write in Setswana or English, and the ability to carry out simple arithmetic computations in everyday life" (Government of Botswana, 1997). Literacy tests were given to the population assumed to be illiterate, the criterion being that the respondents should be citizens of Botswana of ages 12-65 years, who never attended school, or left school before Standard 5.

Respondents who attained a pass mark of 50% or better in the literacy tests were considered literate. Even though the tests were given to children form age the of 12 years, the survey results were reported using lower age limit of 15 years, which the age that is usually used by UNESCO and other countries for comparison. Age specific rates were calculated for a number of age groups. Figure 21 below presents the national literacy rates, dissagregated by age group and sex.

Figure 11: 1993 National literacy rates by sex and age group

Source: National Survey of Literacy in Botswana, 1997

The national literacy rate for adults, which is the rate for the age group 15 years and over stood at 68.9% in 1993. The literacy rate for males was 66.9%, while the rate for females was 70.3%. The general pattern is that literacy rates declined with age. The figure above shows that the people of ages between 15 and 24 years (inclusive) have the highest literacy rates at 89.5%, while people of ages 45 and above have the lowest rate at 35.6%. Younger females had higher literacy rates than males (92.3% compared to 85.8% for the 15-24 age group), while older males had higher rates than females (36.2% compared to 35.0% for the 45 years older age group). As was expected, the literacy rates in the urban areas are higher than in the rural areas. Figure 22 below presents literacy rates by locality.

Figure 12: 1993 Literacy rates by locality and sex

Source: National Survey of Literacy in Botswana, 1997

There is a difference of 17% between the overall literacy rate of the urban and rural populations (81.5% compared to 64.5%). However, for the younger age group of 15-24 years old, the gap between urban and rural literacy rates is significantly lower (92.0% and 89.4% respectively). Several reasons were given for these differences.

Most men who were illiterate and never attended school gave "cattle herding" as the main reason for not attending school. Women on the other hand, cited helping at home and the general attitude of parents’ unwillingness to send their female children to school. Most men who had attended the first few classes of primary school left school because of cattle herding, while women left school due to lack of money.

11.0 Expansion of Training in Essential Skills

Target Dimension 5 - Acquisition and expansion of knowledge and skills that are essential for sustainable human development of youth and adults.

11.1 Baseline description for Training in Essential Skills

Expansion and provision of skills training in both the formal and non-formal education sector was experienced in the period of the NPE. At the level of basic education, the department of Non-Formal Education has developed several programmes that go beyond teaching literacy skills to bring in a practical component. When they could demonstrate functional literacy, participants were helped to set up small business schemes by accessing funds for low-income earners and self-help schemes such as the Financial Assistance Policy. The DNFE’s Income Generating Projects initiative is an example of training in essential skills.

The NPE period has also seen the establishment of more brigades. Brigades education in Botswana provides an alternative to a more academic Junior certificate. Brigades are small autonomous community-based establishments involved in the vocational training and development projects. There were 23 brigades that were operational in 1993 (National Development Plan 7, 1991). The DNFE began a programme to offer academic skills training, JC and COSC courses, by correspondence. These courses were designed and introduced for students who dropped out of the formal education system, as well as for adults.

Other avenues for skills acquisition were the expansion of extension services aimed at human resource development in different sectors. For instance, extension services in agriculture included development of skills in fishery, rearing of small stock, maintaining poultry projects, and development of horticulture, to mention a few. The Ministries of Health, Commerce and Industry and the department of Culture and Social Services are other examples of government departments where extension services geared at skills development were provided. Various other organisations both in the public and private sector are involved in special skills training. Examples of these are the Roads Training Centre, the Police College, the Botswana Telecommunications Corporations Training Centre, and the Commercial Bank’s Training Schools, to mention a few.

Even though the sum total of NPE can be legitimately viewed as a strategy for acquisition of skills for better living, this dimension also emphasises the use of mass media and modern channels of communication for educational purposes (Technical Guidelines, 1998). Throughout the entire period of NPE and beyond, the only electronic medium that Botswana had was government-owned Radio Botswana, while print medium was dominated by The Daily News, also a government owned-paper. Radio Botswana carried broadcasts of several educational programmes in the late 70s and early 80s, some of which were produced by the Ministry of Education (MOE) departments, while others were produced by the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Health, and other government ministries.

11.2 Progress Towards Goals and Targets for Training in Essential Skills

The sum total of all efforts of training of young people and adults in Botswana is to equip them with skills to help them to increase their life choices, to have a decent livelihood. Those who are out-of-school also need to be catered for by inculcating in them a culture of lifelong learning. The approach to skills training has been multi-sectoral. Even though targets and actions of different sub-sectors could be identified with this theme, there was no deliberate follow-up on b was made. As such progress on those targets could be appraised. However avenues for skills training have tremendously opened up in the latter part of the 1990s. Below is a non-exhaustive list of possibilities

All these achievements notwithstanding, the majority of rural youth and adults have fallen through the cracks as far as skills training is concerned. This has resulted in an unprecedented pattern of urban migration, where people who cannot make a living in their villages move to cities and urban centres to look for job opportunities. Young people and adults experience other kinds of dangers while they remain in this vulnerable state, one of which is the risk of contracting the HIV/AIDS.

New evidence is showing that the population that has been mostly affected by HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa is the 15 to 25 years age group. There is no reason to believe that Botswana would not conform to those that pattern, given that a recent study at the University of Botswana has shown the age of first sexual experiencing among young people to be dropping to about 12 years of age (Bainame, et. Al, 1999). This points to the failure of the education system to inculcate the right skills, attitudes, and behaviours in young people, and for more creative and rigorous measures to be put in place.

12.0 Education for disadvantaged populations

Target Dimension 6 – Provision of education for disadvantaged populations

12.1 Baseline description of education services for disadvantaged populations

Provision of education for groups with special needs has always been more difficult and more costly than catering for the mainstream students. As a result, learners with special needs are routinely neglected, unless there is a policy that guides action in those areas, and the political will to avail services to all people. Even though the political will has always been there, there were no corresponding policies on protecting the right to education for learners with disabilities, children of cultural minorities, children who come from destitute families, or children who drop out of school for various reasons.

12.2 Progress on education services for disadvantaged populations

12. 2. 1 Children with learning Disabilities

Learners with disabilities have not always been seen as a direct concern of MOE in the way that other mainstream learners were. As a result, there is on baseline data on the characteristics of the learners, the types of disabilities that they have, or the kind of education programmes that have to be put in place for them. However, the situation is likely to change in the near future with the inclusion of variables pertaining to children with special needs in the routine data collection that exercise carried out by the Department of Research Planning and Statistics. The initial data collection exercise has experienced teething problems, as well as problems of a more substantive nature.

In some schools, educators can identify children with physical disabilities, but are ill-prepared to identify children with learning needs. Some have cited intact classes as having children with learning disabilities, when in fact the classes may only be comprising of children who need remedial assistance in certain skills. Indeed, identification of learners with special needs is a specialised area that needs highly specialised knowledge. Unfortunately, Botswana has not trained any developmental psychologists and/or psychometricians who are equipped with the expertise of identifying children with learning disabilities, and who can be available to called into the school to carry out such assessments. Investment on expatriate staff to carry out such assessment will be of help in building and information system that will enable planning in this area.

12. 2. 2 Children of cultural minories

Cultural minorities in Botswana are not homogeneous, and neither are their children. This statement is true even of the RAD populations which are usually spoken of as if they are one homogeneous group. Cultural minorities exist because of, among others, remote localities that they live in, language barriers, certain practices (be they ethnic, religious, traditional or otherwise), and certain sub-cultures (e.g., the urban poor, street children, commercial sex workers, etc.). Children of all these cultural minorities do not participate in education in the manner that they should, but planning for the inclusion of these learners is usually undermined by the fact the there is virtually no information on them. Education planners should receive reliable information on how many learners can be legitimately be considered to be systematically marginalised because of cultural differences, where these learners are found, and in what way is provision of education through the regular schooling process a disadvantage to them. Once more, the Department of Research Planning and Statistics has to take leadership in generating this kind of information.

12. 2. 3 School Dropouts

The Education Statistics Bulletin publishes yearly statistics on the number of school dropouts, and the reason, if any, that they give for dropping out of school. Figure 23 below show the number of boys and girls who dropped out of school in 1997, the last year of the two-year JC programme. This problem is highlighted towards the end of their basic education career, where most learners would have matured physical to have the ability to bear children.

Figure 1: Form 1 – Form 3 Dropouts, by sex

Source: Education Statistics Report, Government of Botswana, 1997

Whereas more boys than girls drop out at primary schools (58.4% of boys compared to 41.6 % of girls in 1997), many more girls than boys dropped out of school in all three forms in 1997. The dropout rate of girls was more than double that of boys in Forms 2 and 3. The most daunting problem for most girls is teenage pregnancy as shown in Table 9 below.

Teenage pregnancy accounts for about 50% of the female dropouts in Form 1, and only 18% for the male dropouts .

Table 1: Reason for dropping out of school





Form 1



Form 2



Form 3



Form 4



Form 5



Source: Education Statistics Report, Government of Botswana, 1997

When children are older, at Form 5, they drop out in larger numbers. The trend generally goes down and picks up again at Form 5, which may suggest that some of the pregnancy may be planned, or that students get careless in the last year. Whatever the reason is, students need to be protected by education, and also by some policy measure such that they can re-enter school without feeling unsafe.

12.3 General Assessment of Progress on Education for All (EFA)

The major goal of reaching universal access to primary school was almost achieved for learners of primary school going age (98.4% NER). The system continues to attract older children who missed their chance to attend primary school (about 13% of those that enrol). There is success in this area in that the latter group is shrinking, albeit slowly. Another success that has been registered is that participation of boys ang girls at the primary level is about equal. The CJSS programme has also been successful in terms of increasing access to education after the primary level.

Accessibility to schools has greatly improved, and as a result children are no longer walking long distance to schools. By and large, educational facilities have improved. The school is even taking care of other needs such as feeding of children when they are in school, and providing food rations to be utilised during school holidays for destitute children. All these have been done, not only to have children enrol in school, but to stay in school until the end of the basic education cycle, at the very least.

Gains have been registered in improving the quality of basic education. Curriculum revisions have been done when and where necessary to adjust to the changing needs of individuals and the economy. Essential learning materials have been provided, such that the bulk of the burden of the cost of education does not fall on parents. Curriculum revisions have been coupled with improvement in assessing and reporting learning achievement to students and their parents. Trained teachers have increased over the years, and the newly adopted strategy of improving both their academic and professional qualification holds the greatest a promise in enhancing quality.

In recognition of the fact that learners with special needs are found at all levels of the education system, a new strategy for providing education to these individuals has been adopted. Even though this strategy is in its infancy and its impact has not yet been felt, a support system for identification of learning needs has been set up. A number of units that provide special education have been increased, and most individuals who have been identified as having special needs have been placed in those institutions.

The strategy of providing education to the out-of-school populations through non-formal means was first put into practice in the 1980s. It was strengthened in the 1990s as the National Literacy programmes gained ground and spread to the rural areas. In addition, the new emphasis on functional literacy, and assisting learners not only to acquire literacy and numeracy skills, but to apply them in profitable ventures has given a new lease of life to literacy activities. It also ensures that literacy is sustained.

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