Van Rensburg Pioneer of education with production in Botswana

Patrick Van Rensburg's book.
Patrick Van Rensburg's book.

A new book has been published on renowned educationalist, father of the brigades movement and media practitioner, Patrick van Rensburg detailing the man's journey, work and philosophical posture.

In her book titled ‘Patrick Van Rensburg: Pioneer of Education with Production in Botswana’ Bobana Badisang and her team contributors Tsvakai Nashingaidze and Keaobaka Tau did a wonderful job to recite and give the readers moments in van Rensburg’s life.

According to the authors, the bibliography coincided with research for Kevin Shillington’s recently published biography of Patrick van Rensburg. It is made up of select entries containing works written by and about van Rensburg.

They take the reader through an abstract that van Rensburg published from 1958 as well as key moments other people, such as former colleagues, news and other secondary sources had published relating to him.


From my observation, the bibliography makes for such an interesting and captivating read. It gives the reader a clear picture and insight of what a man van Rensburg was. It also reflects the impact he had as well as his vision for combination of education with production as a catalyst for social change.

One thing that the compilers should be commended for is the idea to bring about such a bibliography. The book cover has been nicely designed and catches the eye. It really looks good. Another interesting thing is that the compilers gave the citations year by year, which means can also give readers an opportunity to find more on a specific subject that he had written on if need be.

The book captures many moments about van Rensburg. However, the route the authors chose to do it, is possible that they left many significant writings, which would have made it even more interesting. As a newspaper editor, he probably wrote a lot about issues of national interest, which the compilers probably missed on. In my opinion, this leaves room for improvement.

The authors decided to go more with too much text than pictures. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Many readers will agree with me that it is boring to read a cluttered text without any breakers in between. Pictures help a lot to capture the reader’s eye. While it may have been not easy to get proper pictures that go along with the citations, it would have helped to have them.

Overall, despite areas where I feel there could have been some improvements, the book provides an insight into the life of a man who devoted his time to influencing change in all aspects of life.

Quite a number of sources refer to Van Rensburg (PVR) as an educationalist more so because of his love and passion to use education to transform the people’s lives.

His work and philosophy to influence impact the lives of ordinary people in the communities shows that he was just more than an educationalist. As a catalyst for social change, he was a visionary.

Van Rensburg clearly had a vision to liberate the people. Many describe him as the pioneer of Education with production in Botswana. He is credited for coming up with a transformative agenda for education with production (EwP) an alternative mode of education. Van Rensburg’s work has left a lasting mark, even after his demise.

One of Van Rensburg’s former colleagues, Metlhaetsile Leepile, who wrote the preface of the book says the ‘man also had such a great nose for news. For instance, he says once he had hunch that former Mozambican president, Samora Machel was killed shortly after he had left Botswana on a state visit. Leepile said the incident was confirmed a few hours.

Leepile also credits van Rensburg for organising a press conference in Kasane in 1989 sponsored by the Swedes which subsequently paved the way to the promulgation of the Windhoek Declaration on the Promotion of an Independent and Pluralistic Press by UNESCO.

Editor's Comment
A step in the right direction

That is indeed a welcome development, especially looking at the fact that the manual way of doing things is slowly disappearing and competency in the use of computers and other digital gadgets has become a must.The simple way of looking at it is just an example that almost all companies have gone completely digital and school leavers will be better placed after leaving school, because they will already be familiar with the use of computers.The...

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