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"By the year 2016, Botswana will have a system of quality

education that is able to adapt to the changing needs of the country as the world around us changes

Vision 2016: Towards Prosperity for All Government of Botswana, 1997

13.0 Introduction

The National Policy on Education (1977) and the Revised National Policy on Education (1994) have provided the policy framework for the education system in Botswana. EFA 2000 end-of decade assessment has, on the other hand, provided an invaluable opportunity to assess progress towards achieving both country-specific goals, and goals that are shared by all countries that ratified the Jomtien declaration. Botswana has done well in achieving her set of country-specific goals, most of which were initially set in 1977, and have since been reviewed through various processes. However, the country has not performed so well in achieving goals for the "expanded vision" on basic education as set out by the Jomtien Conference. This section presents recommendations for future policy direction for Education for All (EFA) in Botswana. The recommendations are made as a way of strengthening aspects of the existing education policy that address basic education. An attempt is made to recapture the essence of the "expanded vision" on basic education, and to align the recommendations with Botswana’s vision for the future of as encapsulated in Vision 2016.

In 1997, a Presidential Task Group commenced work on mapping a long-term vision for Botswana. The Task Group carried out a series of consultations, where citizens were invited to make submissions on their aspirations for the future. The year 2016 which was used as a point of reference is important to Botswana in that the country will have been independent for 50 years. The Presidential Task Group has since produced a report entitled "Vision 2016: Towards Prosperity for All" (also known as Vision 2016), which has been a subject of public debate. The report features education of citizens as a prominent aspect of shaping and preparing to "own" the future. According to the Vision, Batswana anticipate a future where citizens would have gone beyond basic education to be an educated and informed nation in the year 2016. There is the need for additional policy guidelines and strengthening institutional capacity in some areas of the education system if this vision is to be realised.

13.1 Policy Direction and Strategies for ECCD

"The quality of pre-school education (particularly the public facilities) must also be improved through closer monitoring of licensing, or by introducing pre-schools in all primary schools"… Vision 2016

Education of the youngest of the nation’s children needs to be strengthened through provision of a vibrant and responsive ECCD programme. ECCD is a complex area in that it deals with the development of children from the earliest stages of their lives. It is still at its formative stages in Botswana. There still remain some gaps in information about characteristics of the children and teachers of the early childhood centres, the curriculum being taught, or whether the centres adhere to standards and guidelines in terms of health, safety, and enrolment age of the children. This information would be useful in the current exercise of developing a fully-fledged policy on ECCD.

The EFA exercise has underscored the importance of defining the parameters of ECCD in Botswana. An non-exhaustive list of aspects in which policy direction is needed;

The RNPE accepted, in principle, the challenge of providing two years of universal pre-school education to young Batswana in 25 years even though implementation was to occur outside the framework of the RNPE. While partners of the Botswana Government will continue to assume leadership in the provision of services at other stages of ECCD, MOE should be planning ahead for assuming responsibility at the pre-primary stage. The afore-mentioned areas are suggested for possible policy consideration.

13.2 Policy Direction and Strategies for Universal Primary Education and or Basic Education

"There has been a high rate of failure and school dropout, especially in remote and small settlements…This is a major challenge to meet the goal of educational equity across the country"…Vision 2016.

Both the NPE and the RNPE stipulated a clear target of achieving universal access to primary education, and mapped out strategies to implement UPE policies. With an NER of 98.4%, Botswana has virtually achieved UPE. However, the challenge for Botswana is greater in that UPE is only a first step to a more ambitious goal of 10 years of basic education.

While the infrastructure for attaining basic education is well developed, the quality of education recurring concern. Another concern is that of reducing dropout rates and improving graduation rates, which actions will translate into improving the internal efficiency of the basic education system. The policy framework for achieving basic education has already been developed in RNPE recommendations. However, there is a dire need for sub-sector specific strategic planning to translate policy pronouncements into action.

A number of indicators that were proposed for this report have serious limitations for the context of Botswana. Conduct the research that is necessary for the developing a meaningful set of indicators for basic education

13.3 Policy Direction and Strategies for Achievement of Learning

"Improvement in relevance, the quality, and access to education lies at the core of the Vision for the future" …Vision 2016.

Even though the school socialises students in other useful ways, learners remain in school primarily to acquire new knowledge, skills and attitudes that will be utilised to improve life choices, and to be able to show proof of attaining such knowledge. The RNPE recommendations present a sound framework on which valid assessment practices are to be designed. However, because of the delays in implementation, there continues to be over-reliance on the external examination system which robs learners of the opportunity to be judged on the basis of typical performance that is routinely appraised through qualitative measures. In addition, the exam-driven assessment system fails to capture "creative moments" in the learners’ experiences, most of which occur in the classroom setting. These could form part of the profile that is passed on to the next level. In view of these factors, action should be stepped up on the following:

13.4 Policy Direction and Strategies for Reducing Illiteracy

"All Batswana will have the opportunity for continued and universal education … The public and private sectors will develop education in partnership" …Vision 2016.

Those who pursue education through non-formal means have the same goals and desire to be of empowered through access to new knowledge, skills and attitudes and to be have comparable academic qualifications. The RNPE provides the institutional support for enrolling in distance education and pursuing education goals through other non-formal means. However, school-like mode of delivery that is utilised for non-formal education is not user-friendly for this population of learners. Neither is the pedagogy that borrows heavily from traditional classroom practices. Another problem is that other kinds of learning support systems that the school population enjoys are not extended to non-formal education learners. These include, among others, leaving the challenge of developing adult-friendly curricula and learning materials to non-curriculum specialists, as well as imposing assessment frameworks that are not suited for literacy and distance education to this sub-sector. Policy direction and strategies to be considered in this area include;

13.5 Policy Direction and Strategies for Providing Youth with Essential Skills

"All Batswana will have the opportunity for continued and universal education … The public and private sectors will develop education in partnership" …Vision 2016.

There is a variety of skills that young people and adults need to acquire for sustainable human and economic development. Unfortunately, whatever skills have been achieved so far are being undermined by the fact the young people in Botswana are at present the hardest hit area in terms of the prevalence of HIV/AIDS, and rate of new HIV/ AIDS infections. That young most of which are in school, or have recently left school is an indictment on, among others, the education system. It is reasonable to question the adequacy of the skills and at the attitudes that are taught in the school if bad choices are made in spite of the benefits of education. Towards that end, a policy should be developed in response to the threat of HIV/AIDS in the school population and young people as a whole.

Countries of the sub-region, which have developed Life Skills programmes in response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, include Zimbabwe, Uganda, Lesotho, Malawi, and Namibia. While we recognize the efforts of CD&E in infusing Life Skills across the curriculum, lessons from other countries are beginning to show that such programmes have lower chances of success in that they are often viewed as just another subject matter that has to be learned in order to pass an exam.

13.6 Policy Direction and Strategies for Bringing Education to Disadvantaged Populations

"The further spread of the HIV virus in Botswana must be halted if we are to avoid catastrophic consequences …We must expand and diversify family planning and education services to the youth to reduce the incidences of HIV/AIDS along with other sexually transmitted diseases …" Vision 2016.

For those countries that ratified the Jomtien Declaration, a right-based approach to education was adopted. Towards that end, all citizens of Botswana have a right to 10 years of basic education. Unfortunately gross inequities are experienced in participation rates, both in primary, and in junior secondary. Education policy needs to be strengthened in order to provide an equitable education service to Batswana who are routinely disadvantaged by the education planning process.

Furthermore, services that extend basic education to the non-school populations should be opened up to the disadvantaged populations. Once more, the system can benefit from devising strategies that are responsive to the problems of the different constituencies of the overall population.

14.0 Conclusion

The Jomtien declaration and framework for action was a momentous occasion in the history of education worldwide. It was also an important milestone in the history of education in Botswana. Botswana ratified this declaration, and subsequently convened a conference in 1991 for local multi-sectoral broad-based consultation, where the declaration was formally adopted. Since that time, significant gains in increasing participation in basic education have been made. Most of these were attained through the usual national development planning and implementation processes, however.

The EFA 2000 Assessment revealed the hard reality that our implementation strategies throughout the 1990s did not take advantage of all that the framework had to offer. Additional challenges that we naturally took upon ourselves in ratifying this declaration were largely ignored if they did not already fit with the plans that were already on the ground. In particular, attempts to interpret the "expanded vision" of basic education for our local context are not immediately evident in the work that was carried out for the out-of-school youth and children. Neither was there a concerted effort in stepping up action for participation of the marginalised groups in education. This was a missed opportunity.

That notwithstanding, Botswana has a sound and mature policy on the provision of EFA that dates more than 22 years. The history of education in Botswana shows that, by and large, education policies have been formulated in a timely manner, and have served the purpose for which they were intended. Botswana’s current education policy offers, among others, the structure of the National Council on Education (NCE) to monitor the implementation of education policy, as well as advise Government on the education system. An additional responsibility of the NCE is policy formulation, and fostering public awareness and understanding of education policy. This structure provides a fertile ground for proactive education policy even in the years to come. However, without a supporting implementation strategy, implementation of policy has largely been reactive. In addition, public awareness on education policies has remained low. This is also true for the majority of those who are charged with the responsibility of implementing education policy in the different sub-sectors. These are some of the problems which need to be addressed aggressively, however.

The NCE could on a regular basis, put out information for public debate as a way of educating the public on education policy and getting feedback from the general public on how they would want the future of education to be shaped. A possible strategy would be close collaboration between the NCE and the Vision 2016 Forum, where education issues which emanate from Vision 2016 could be debated on the Vision 2016 platform, and public aspirations for the future of education be processed through the NCE mechanism. This would strengthen partnerships and consultative approaches that already exist between MOE, other ministries, and stakeholders in order to develop a sense of ownership of the education system.

The NCE could also, in preparation for the World Summit on Education, Dakar 2000, revisit the Jomtien World Declaration on Education for All, and the Framework for Action. The purpose of such an exercise would be to ascertain whether the vision and goals of the framework which were not attained are still relevant to Botswana. and to plan for remedial measures to fulfill Botswana obligations as a signatory to the declaration.


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