Botswana's secondary education program has two levels: the three-year junior secondary program and the two-year senior secondary program. Each year is a Form; Forms I to III are completed in junior secondary and Forms IV and V in senior secondary. In 1996 the junior secondary level was expanded from two years to three years so that it would align with the 1994 revision of the government's basic education policy to emphasize prevocational preparation. Prevocational preparation is implemented by including vocational applications in academic subjects; providing more practical elective courses for students; emphasizing skills relevant to work situations including problem solving, team work, self-identity, and computing; offering both curricular and co-curricular activities that focus on the organization and demands of working life; and offering career guidance and counseling.
In 1997, about 98 percent of students leaving primary school enrolled in junior secondary schools, which is a significant increase from 1991 when only 65 percent of those completing primary school entered a junior secondary school. One reason for this change is the increase in the number of junior secondary schools. In 1977 there were 32 junior secondary schools in Botswana; by 1990 the number had increased to 150. In 1977 only 35 percent of those completing primary school had access to a junior secondary school. In 1991, about 95 percent of the students completing primary school had access to a junior secondary school.
There is a nationwide network of community-based junior secondary schools. Each community elects a Board of Governors that oversees the school. Ex-officio members, mainly government workers, also serve as on these boards. The Botswana government supports community schools by providing assistance for capital projects and recurrent costs, providing teaching staff, supervising construction, and housing teachers. Communities are expected to employ ancillary staff and maintain school buildings.
The majority of students not completing the secondary level are boys who must herd cattle and girls who become pregnant. For every 100 girls dropping out due to pregnancy, only 10 return. There is a gap in academic performance between girls and boys, and the underachievement of girls impacts their opportunities for employment and thus exacerbates gender inequality.
Admission to senior secondary schools is determined by student performance in the junior secondary school. The number of students admitted to the senior secondary school has increased from 28 percent in 1994 to 34 percent in 1997. The government's goal is to increase access to senior secondary schools by 50 percent before the year 2003. To accomplish this, unified secondary schools for Forms I to V will be built in the remotest areas, and larger senior secondary schools will be constructed in the urban areas.
The Ministry of Education provides secondary school curricula guidelines. The headmaster of each school, in consultation with his staff, determines the actual options that will be offered. The junior level prescribes a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 11 subjects. All students must take eight core subjects: English, Setswana, social studies, mathematics, integrated science, design and technology, agriculture, and moral education. Students must also select a minimum of two and a maximum of three of the following optional subjects: home economics, commerce, principles of accounts/bookkeeping and office skills, religious education, third language, art, music, and physical education. The purpose of this broad curriculum is to meet the needs of students who enter the junior secondary school having a wide range of differing abilities.
In 1984 a science curriculum, Science by Investigation in Botswana, was introduced. The curriculum consists of 15 units inclusive of biological and earth science subjects. Pupils at both junior and senior secondary levels are encouraged to participate in science clubs so they can apply classroom knowledge to practical experiences. Supporting this curriculum is the Botswana Science Association (BOTSA), which has made it possible for students to exhibit their projects in annual science fairs.
There has always been an agricultural program in the junior secondary school, but it has been expanded since the junior secondary program was increased to three years. Vegetable production is a required topic; optional topics include bee keeping, ostrich farming, fish farming, and other forms of poultry husbandry. The agricultural program in the senior secondary school offers basic research and technical report writing skills through what is referred to as project methods of teaching. The Botswana Agriculture Teachers Association organizes fairs at both regional and national levels. These fairs enable schools to reach out to the public and demonstrate what students can produce if given adequate support. The agrarian program is not meant to be vocational. Its main objective is for students to have knowledge and skills they can apply on a daily basis that will have a positive impact on their environment.
Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceBotswana - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education