Issues In Education

EFA By 2015-Will We Make it?

This article intends to look at this report with specific reference to Botswana.
The EFA Global Monitoring report portrays Botswana in both positive and negative light. This report needs to be seen in the light of previous reports, for one to fully appreciate the progress made. This particular article focuses on the positive and commendable progress record that the country's education system has made so far.

The positive record includes the attention paid to orphaned and vulnerable children (OVC), who are recognised as facing barriers beyond those affecting all other poor children. According to the EFA Global Monitoring Report, Botswana is among 20 countries in sub-Saharan Africa that ensure that OVC have access to educational opportunities. In addition, Botswana has covered 95 percent of the OVC households-thus, the highest percentage among the Sub-Saharan African countries.

In this case, it is commendable that access for disadvantaged children is taken on board as a key area in education. It can, therefore, be argued that there is notable evidence that education in Botswana is taken very seriously because, like elsewhere, it has been realised that it has benefits for individual's health and economic status. Secondly, Botswana is reported to be among the top 26 countries in the region in which education got six percent or more of the GNP.

It is also one of the five (out of the 21 Sub-Saharan African countries), which allocated at least 20 percent of the total government expenditure to basic education. Such expenditure is regarded as a measure as well as an indicator of a government's commitment. This high allocation of resources is evidence that Botswana uses education to invest in its people; and because she views its people as potential human resources necessary to transform the country and drive the economy.

Thirdly, the 2008 EFA Global Monitoring Report also notes that improved capacity for monitoring performance was initially identified as a key strategy to monitoring education progress. It is noted in the report that "Botswana, Chile and China are examples of countries that have defined agendas for strengthening their public management systems so as to improve performance and the ability to retain competent personnel". It is commendable that at national and policy levels, noteworthy efforts have been made in order to address one of Botswana's problems of lack of implementation.

Many good policies have suffered at the implementation level by either being poorly implemented or not implemented at all hence the improvement of capacity for monitoring is a commendable stride. Currently, there is also a nationwide move towards productivity and improved service, within which education also falls.

A fourth area is with regards to the attainment of gender parity in education. The report notes that "in tertiary education gender disparities are the norm". However, the report further notes that in 2005, four out of 144 countries (being Botswana, China, Mexico and Peru) had achieved gender parity at tertiary level.

Also in secondary schools, Botswana is reported as having in 2005 gross enrolment ratios that reflected gender disparity in favour of girls. At the primary school level, Botswana is reported as one of the 36 countries which between 1999 to 2004, had higher survival rates for girls than boys in the last grade of the primary school level. This reflects both increased access to education for girls as well as increased retention given the bleak history and background of plight of girls in the education system.

The EFA Report shows that Botswana and some relatively high-income countries were receiving more aid than relatively poorer countries.

It can be concluded the EFA reports provide a useful comparative tool for education systems in the 144 countries that have made a commitment to provide education for all their citizens. Countries can see how they fare against target goals and can constantly review their own systems in order to improve and achieve more. Of particular importance is the fact that countries can use this opportunity to learn from one another. This is in line with the objectives of comparative education, which involves learning from within and outside one's system.

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