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Botswana

Preprimary & Primary Education

Preschool education is available only to those children whose parents can afford to send them to expensive private day care centers and preschools. The overwhelming majority of parents have no access to preschool programs. The University of Botswana's Primary Education Department and Home Economics Education Department offer courses for students seeking the Baccalaureate Degree in Education. Following a 1998 study reporting that the university lacked a comprehensive plan and policy on preschool education and that the Department of Primary Education did not offer a full-fledged program in preschool education, the Department of Home Economics Education opened a day care center. The center, managed by students as part of their curriculum, is for children of the university's employees who do not have the financial resources to send their children to other day care centers.

Children begin the seven-year primary education program at age six. Botswana's education system recognizes that primary education is the foundation upon which future learning is based. Setswana and English are the only two languages taught in the schools. Setswana is the language of instruction for the first four years of primary school, so those not speaking it, such as the Basarwa children, choose not to attend.

The primary curriculum is based on the country's principles and goals of democracy and is designed to prepare children for life after they have completed school. Teachers continually assess their students and provide remediation when needed. At the end of the primary program, Standard VII, students take the Primary School Leaving Examination. Those who pass this examination enter the junior secondary schools. The government increased the number of primary schools from 537 in 1986 to 669 in 1994 as part of their plan to achieve universal access to education, but there is a noticeable shortage of classrooms in the rural areas.

By 1994 primary school enrollment was 310,050, an increase of more than 30 percent from the 1986 enrollment of 235,941 students. In 1990 the Ministry of Education projected a primary school enrollment of 342,155 students by 1994; the 1994 enrollment figure was just 9.6 percent below this projected number. In 1986 there were 7,324 primary teachers, and the student-teacher ratio was 32:1. By 1994 the number of primary teachers had increased to 11,726, and the student-teacher ratio had dropped to 26:1.


Additional topics

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