Bechuanaland's worst education system


In Botswana, as elsewhere, education is seen as the key to success and prosperity in life. Mmegi Correspondent and retired educationist GRAHAME MCLEOD writes, focussing on Botswana’s education system

TONOTA:  At independence in 1966, educational facilities in Botswana were minimal with less than two percent of the population having completed primary school. And only a few thousand pupils were attending secondary schools, which were largely run by missions such as Mater Spei College and St. Joseph’s College. And fewer than 100 students were enrolled in university courses and all of these outside Botswana. And there were then no institutions that offered tertiary education within the country. 

This was because the colonial government had done very little to develop education in the Bechuanaland protectorate. In fact, Bechuanaland had the worst education system of all British possessions in Africa. During this time, education was left almost entirely to missionaries and the merafe. As a result, better-off Batswana sent their children to schools like Lovedale and Tigerkloof near Vryburg, in South Africa. At these schools, the standard of education was high. What a contrast to the present time! Now there are 758 government primary schools, 207 government junior secondary schools and 34 government senior secondary schools. Plus 44 private secondary and 72 private primary schools! The government must be commended for providing basic education for all children in the country, regardless of their background, where they live, their ethnic group, the economic status of their parents... Furthermore, parents on low incomes may not pay any school fees, and for those who do, the fees are very moderate and not exorbitant. And at tertiary level, students have a wide choice of places to study – University of Botswana (UB), Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BUAN), Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST), Botswana Open University (BOU), Limkokwing University of Creative Technology (Botswana), Institute of Development Management (IDM), Botho University (BU), Gaborone International Professional School (GIPS), Botswana Accountancy College (BAC), Institute of Health Sciences (HIS), Ba Isago University…. The list is endless. And government not only sponsors students at this level but also sponsors many students each year to study at universities overseas.

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