Overview of educational system
Botswana has an educational system that is like that in the United Kingdom and comprises seven years of primary education, three years of junior secondary education, and two years of senior secondary education.
Basic education consists of a total of 12 years: 7 years of primary school, 3 years of junior secondary school and 2 years of senior secondary school. While the official school starting age is 6 years of age, it is only by the age of 7 that almost all children are in school. Parents are expected to pay a development fund fee for their children but non-payment of the fee cannot deny a learner to access education. Education is free for children from lower income groups. Two or three meals are provided for free to all school pupils across all levels to enhance nutritional balance, this is particularly important in remote areas, where income levels may be low.
Previously, Early Childhood Education has been predominantly provided by the private sector and partly by voluntary organisations as well as communities. Government observed that marginalised groups and vulnerable children missed out on accessing the programme thus 2014 government made a deliberate decision to introduce the programme in public schools. The programme started being rolled out gradually resources permitting to all regions following the pilot. The programme commenced with few schools and today over 80% of schools have introduced the programme. It is still a wish to cover all public schools so that all children will access the programme before primary education. The duration of the programme is currently 1 year, enrolling children of age 4-5, It is envisaged that it will be a 2 year programme by 2024.
Tertiary Education in Botswana is provided by both public and private institutions; (Universities and colleges). Tertiary education provides secondary school graduates with the opportunity to be enrolled and trained in a number of programmes, so as to attain a global competitive human capital. These programs follow the Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) priorities.
Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in Botswana is delivered at different levels from certificate to diploma in different institutions. These include 7 government-owned Technical Colleges and 35 Brigades. Accredited private training institutions also offer vocational training to widen the skill base source. It is important to note that this is a post-secondary programme.
With a 69.8% literacy rate, the Government is trying to ensure that children are literate first in Setswana (primary national language) and then in English. Other goals are for children to become knowledgeable in mathematics and to have a command of science and social studies.
The country’s national budget prioritizes education and this has propelled the Ministry into emphasizing diversifying its curriculum to encourage universal education and train, qualified teachers.
- Education is free but not compulsory. Access to primary and secondary education is relatively easy while access to secondary and tertiary education is limited due to the highly selective process. The most important stage of education is primary education, and the government is putting in place all measures to ensure that this level of education is accessible to everyone.
- Apart from the University of Botswana, which is run by the University Council, all the other educational structures in the country are controlled by the Ministry of Education.
- Early in 2015, to promote the education of children, the government initiated early childhood education programs in government primary schools.
- Primary school enrollment begins at the age of 6 and is of two types: the Setswana medium of education which is provided by the government and the English medium provided by the private sector.
- Botswana faces a learning gap challenge linked to foundational literacy deficiency. According to a 2017 Report1 on literacy in Botswana, about a half of grade five students were unable to do basic subtraction or read a simple paragraph.
- Most households in Botswana have limited or no access to computers and the internet; thus making it difficult for students to have adequate educational resources.
- There is little or no room for children with disabilities to get integrated into the system as there are inadequate resources for a special curriculum.
The current education sector plan
- To bridge the gap, the government of Botswana has institutionalized reforms to improve learning and is committed to focusing on foundational literacy and numeracy. This policy was operationalized based on the national Education and Training Sector Strategic Plan. The objective of this is to ensure that irrespective of the grade, the method of instruction should focus on emphasizing the students’ ability to recognize numbers until they can2.
- The Ministry of Education has partnered with some resourceful Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) such as Young 1ove, one of the largest NGOs in the country; UNICEF; and USAID to find much more innovative ways of delivering educational-related information out of school such as rendering personal visits to the students and delivering training based on their levels.
- Given ensuring that children with disabilities get proper education, the government has taken over the responsibility of educating these children by putting in efforts to pay their fees to the NGOs responsible for their education.
- One promising education reform is a program called “Teaching at the Right Level (TaRL),” which groups students by learning level rather than age or grade to meet students where they are. The TaRL approach — delivered both in schools and its principles delivered virtually through mobile phones — is a way to address the learning crisis and build back better to enable all children to achieve foundational learning.
- The pandemic forced innovation and shone a light on the ability for learning to happen no matter the circumstances. The Botswana experience, both before COVID-19 and during, has an important lesson: Meet students where they are and focus relentlessly on the foundations.
|Number of schools||Number of students enrolled (2018)|
|Pre Primary||613||25 640|
|Junior Secondary||207||86 468|
|Senior Secondary||34||45 303|
- Botswana Education Overview
- Education in 2021-perspectives from Botswana
- List of schools in Botswana
- Ministry of Education and Skills Development
- Ministry of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology
- Website of the Government of Botswana
Key educational institutions
- Ministry of Basic Education
Address: Plot Number Block 6, Government Enclave, Private Bag 005, Gaborone, Botswana
Tel. (+267) 371-5100 / 371-5130
Fax: (+267) 310-5857
- Ministry of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology
Address: Block 6 building, Government Enclave, Private Bag 00517, Gaborone, Botswana
Tel: (+267) 365 5400 / 367 4502
Fax: (+267) 392 5166