Botswana Extension College was founded in 1973 as part of the Ministry of Education. In 1978 the Department of Nonformal Education was created and incorporated into the Botswana Extension College. The department supplements secondary level education by offering Junior Certificate and Cambridge "O" Level courses via distance learning.
In 1980 literacy programs began for the then 250,000 men, women, and youths who were illiterate or unable to do simple computations. In the program's first year, 7,676 individuals enrolled in the four regional districts. The number of participants increased steadily until 1986 when enrollments leveled. One part of the literacy program is the Ditiro tsa Ditlhabololo (Home Economics Course); district adult education officers work with extension teams and village development committees to create locally-oriented activities.
Brigades Centers are autonomous, communitybased, and predominately rural organizations that provide practical on the job training for Botswana youth. Their primary objective is to develop self-reliant individuals. Training is offered in automechanics, agriculture, construction, office studies, carpentry, electrical, drafting, general maintenance, machinery, plumbing, tannery, textiles, and welding. In 1999 there were 37 registered Brigades with 33 actively engaged in training.
Until 1999 graduates of the senior secondary school system were required to perform Trelo Setshaba (National Service) for one year. The government guaranteed places at the University of Botswana for those who completed the program. The service program began in 1980 as a pilot program with 28 participants; by 1991 there were more than 6,000 participants. The Ministry of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration managed the program; by the late 1990s, there were many logistical and budget problems that eventually led to the program's termination. National Service was designed to provide secondary graduates with opportunities to mature more and to explore possible career choices. They lived and worked in rural areas and remote places where more than 80 percent of Botswana's population reside. The program provided educated workers who assisted with government programs and bridged gaps between urban and rural dwellers, as well as between the educated and uneducated.
When National Service ended in 1999, the University of Botswana could not accommodate the unusually large freshman class comprised of those who had completed National Service and those who had just graduated from senior secondary schools. To accommodate everyone, the university switched some courses and sent some students to universities outside of Botswana but within the Southern African Development Community region. The national parliament appropriated additional funds for these expenses.
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