Policy and Programs Program and Sector policy
Policy and Programs

Botswana College of Distance and Open Learning (BOCODOL)

While collecting information for this global distance education network, SAIDE held several interviews with organisations in Southern African countries. Impressions of each country were generated to give some introduction to distance education and technology use in the area. Each interview has also been written up separately as a case study.

SAIDE country visits conducted in 1999

Permission granted

Contact Details

Contact Persons:
Obonye Mphinyane (Head Distance Education)
Dr Warr (Technical Advisor)
Mr Magetse (Principal Adult Education Officer)
Mary B. Dingalo (Adult Educational Assistant)
Eric L. Setabo (AEO)
Lorato K. Moncho (AEO)
Masego Bogapi (Senior Adult Education)
Mmabaledi K. Seeletso (Course Development Officer)
Atlatsame H. Kayumba (CDO)
Fancy L. Molefi (Learner Support)
Tel: 581 470/79
Fax: 581 473


Botswana College of Distance and Open Learning (BOCODOL) inherited the programmes and courses previously offered by the Ministry of Education’s Non-formal Education Division (NFED). These focused on schooling.

In Botswana, Lower Primary consists of Standard 1 to 4 and the medium of instruction is seTswana, Upper Primary consists of standards 5 to 7 and English as medium of instruction is introduced. The following five years are secondary school. Form 1 to 3 is Junior secondary and culminates in the Junior Certificate (JC) examination. Senior secondary is form 4 and 5, and culminates in the General Certificate in Secondary Education (GCSE). Currently, about 42% of students proceed from Junior to Senior secondary school. The Junior certificate consists of the following subjects:

  • Mathematics;
  • English;
  • SeTswana;
  • Bookkeeping;
  • Commerce;
  • Office procedures;
  • General Science;
  • Agriculture;
  • Social studies; and
  • Religious education.

The GCSE certificate is now to be termed the Botswana GCSE (BGCSE) and will be equivalent to the Higher International General Certificate in Secondary Education (HIGCSE). The previous syllabus included 6 GCSE subjects:

  • SeTswana;
  • English;
  • Mathematics;
  • History;
  • Commerce;
  • Accounts; and
  • Human and Social Biology.

The new BGCSE will include the first three subjects in the above list and:

  • Chemistry;
  • Physics;
  • Biology;
  • Social Studies; and
  • Agriculture.

The new education system calls for more practical skills rather than pure academic competence.

BOCODOL offers distance education courses for preparation for the JC and BGCSE examinations. The college was established out of the Distance Education section of the Non-Formal Education Department. Part of its mission is to extend distance education course provision beyond schooling to offer vocational and other courses. In 1999, it has approximately 5,000 subject enrolments from 600 students. With the growth in demand for GCSE qualifications from employees there is now increased demand for GCSE enrolment. Now employers and institutions of further education and training are demanding GCSE certification as a prerequisite while previously a JC sufficed. For example, many primary school teachers and rural nurses are now expected to upgrade their qualifications.

Delivery Modes and Technologies

The BOCODOL courses are primarily print-based with some audio support broadcast on Radio Botswana.

Learner Support Strategies

Tutors are employed for each subject to offer support to learners. Tutors are responsible for making assignments and for offering support in the evenings at study centres. There are about 17 study centres scattered throughout Botswana. The intention is for learners to meet for two hours per week per subject. Tutorials are timetabled by subject, with three-hour sessions taking place on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings. In addition, advisors at centres in Gaborone, Maun, Francistown, and Kang offer counselling and guidance to students. Wherever there is a NFED office (of which there are approximately 17 countrywide), learners can use these support services.


Assessment strategies vary for each subject. Each subject curriculum is divided into workbooks, which are further subdivided into units and lessons. Learners have self-study assignments to complete to which they are given the solutions. In general, learners are expected to complete and submit one assignment per workbook. These assignments are submitted to BOCODOL officers and then distributed to tutors for marking. The Course Development officers monitor the marking of assignments. The assignments are returned to learners with comments. All correspondence takes place via post. For each subject, learners sit the same examinations as students in schools. Examinations are scheduled into the school year calendar and administered by the examinations division of the Ministry of Education.

Quality Assurance

BOCODOL strives to operate through teamwork in all facets of the organization. Quality checks are done by all staff. All staff know what other staff are supposed to be doing and what each team member’s constraints and strengths are. Materials development is done by Course Development Officers at BOCODOL and by part-time writers and editors. Materials are shared until all members of the group are satisfied.

Process review for the entire organization is conducted once a month. Through this process, BOCODOL staff identify and discuss current successes, constraints, and changes relating to all aspects of the organization. In addition, BOCODOL has established individual groups that focus on specific topics of concern. These include examining:

  • Materials development processes;
  • Materials production and distribution (Why do materials no reach learners quickly?); and
  • Inactive students.

Professional Development

Tutor training takes place in a weekend face-to-face session before the academic year. This focuses on introducing distance education and how to help distance education learners. Refresher tutor training sessions are also conducted. Currently, BOCODOL has approximately 100 tutors, each of whom has a subject focus.

Staff at BOCODOL are trained through workshops, seminars, short courses, and long courses. At times, this has been administered by Department for International Development (DFID) sponsorship and ongoing consultancy with the Ministry of Education in the United Kingdom. It is government policy for government employees to be eligible for prolonged study leave. Employees are released for study purposes with full pay and a tuition allowance for the first year and half pay and a tuition allowance for the second year. The need for and content of workshops and seminars is decided upon by all BOCODOL staff.

National and Institutional Policy

BOCODOL is a recent policy development with legislation for its establishment being passed in late 1998. It is influenced by the changes in curriculum to the BGSE and will be reworking all of its courses to fulfil these new national policies.

Enabling and Hindering Factors

The following factors were identified by BOCODOL staff as contributing to their ability to function well:

  • BOCODOL has strong political support. The Ministry of Education has demonstrated committed support from top management. Even though it is intended to become a parastatal, it has generous support (budgetary and otherwise) from government, the private sector, and international contacts.
  • The Non-formal Education Department (the ‘mother’ body of BOCODOL) is very supportive. BOCODOL is viewed as the new baby of the department that needs nurturing until it can manage on its own.
  • BOCODOL staff are committed and cohesive. The staff work as a team.
  • BOCODOL is highly equipped. Central government resources from budget not used by other government departments have been directed to it. As such, all staff members have their own computers. There is also a photocopier, printer and A3 printer, and facsimile machine. Rent, electricity, telephone accounts, and water are all paid by central government.

The following factors were mentioned as hindering BOCODOL’s work:

  • Transport;
  • Budget – BOCODOL was established after the 1999 budget allocation. As such it has had to rely support form the NFED and DFID.

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