Poor results attributed to limited ECE

Standard One pupils: Did they go through Early Childhood Education?
Standard One pupils: Did they go through Early Childhood Education?

The Ministry of Education and Skills Development (MoESD) has blamed poor examinations performance on limited access to Early Childhood Education (ECE).

Assistant minister of education Unity Dow told Parliament that low access to ECE had serious implications on school performances. She was delivering a review of MoESD’s past performance and priorities for the next financial year, as part of the ministry’s budget presentation, on Tuesday.

Dow added that unavailability of ECE was a great challenge for Botswana.

“The low access to pre-school education has had serious implications on our learner’s achievement which stand at 60 percent for primary school leaving examinations, 35 percent for junior certificate and 25 percent for Botswana general certificate for secondary education,” she said.

The provision of ECE in Botswana has been predominantly on private hands, and local access to pre-school stands at 18 percent compared to 80 percent for other middle income countries, or 45 percent average for SADC countries, Parliament heard.  

Dow said the benefits of ECE were that it cognitively improved school performance, raised Maths and language abilities, as well as sharpening thinking and attention skills. It also enhanced soft and interpersonal skills.

“Socially and emotionally it improves and strengthens interactions with peers, encourages more exploratory behaviour and in the long-term results in better academic outcomes,” she said.

Dow said that despite the rather heavy investment on education, the decline in learner’s achievement was a major challenge resulting in a growing number of unemployed youth.

It is against this backdrop that as part of the ‘comprehensive’ Education and Training Strategic Sector Plan government has identified the introduction of early childhood education, which was piloted in 2013.

“During 2014 the programme was rolled out to an additional 109 schools across the country, resulting in 115 public primary schools with pre-school which translated to 24 percent access,” Dow said.

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