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Botswana

Constitutional & Legal Foundations

Botswana is a unitary republic with a national legislature, the National Assembly, elected by universal suffrage. The national government consists of the president who is selected by the assembly, his appointed vice-president, and cabinet officials. The Minister of Education is a member of the cabinet. There is also a House of Chiefs consisting of 15 hereditary leaders that advise on tribal matters separate from the assembly.

A multi-party system emerged soon after Botswana gained independence. The ruling party is the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). The president in 2001, Festus Mogae, has been successful in calming factional politics within his party. Botswana's next national election is scheduled for October 2004. Mogae has confirmed that he plans to run for another presidential term, which has helped maintain unity within the BDP. Other political organizations include the Botswana Congress Party (BCP); Botswana Workers Front (BWF); Botswana People's Party (BPP); United Action Party (UAP); and the Botswana National Front (BNF), which is the main opposition group.

One problem that emerged immediately after Botswana became an independent country was financing the impoverished educational system left over from the protectorate. Primary education had been funded exclusively from tribal resources; some tribes had funded as much as 70 percent of educational costs. Government leaders were faced with two options: educating the majority of the population with the long-term goal of creating a literate society or providing limited educational facilities for a few that could occupy civil service jobs, which were then held primarily by expatriates. The second option was selected, and, as a result, income distribution became highly skewed. Critics argued that the educational policy was creating a small, privileged elitist educated group.

To address these social inequalities, the government commissioned a study in 1977. The National Commission on Education's recommendations received top priority, and Botswana began providing universal primary education and ensuring equality of educational opportunity at secondary and tertiary levels through the fair distribution of facilities, the provision of scholarships, and the use of an objective national selection system. However, the wide geographic dispersal of Botswana's population has made it difficult and costly to achieve universal education and expand the opportunities for economic development.

Additional topics

Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceBotswana - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education