Policy and Programs Program and Sector policy
Policy and Programs

Botswana Ministry of Education

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 person: Philemon Ramatsui (Permanent Secretary)
Tel: 3655463
Fax: 3655458
E-mail: pramatsui@gov.bw
Web site: www.gov.bw/home.html

The Ministry of Education is committed to distance education provision. The following sub-sections or departments of the ministry are particularly important role players with regard to distance education and technology use:

Besides these departments in the Education ministry the following government departments are also important contributors:

  • The Computer Bureau is the government department responsible for installation, repair, and maintenance of all government computer software. This includes computers in schools, education centres, the education ministry, and parastatals like BOCODOL.
  • Department of Information and Broadcasting. (unfortunately we were unable to meet Mr Makgekgenene on this visit). Plans to launch a national television channel are underway, with a deadline for findings being October 1999. Teachers have been coopted for this and some have be sent on training. Educational programming will form an important part of the public broadcasts.

Various pieces of policy and legislation emerging from this ministry are of relevance to distance education and technology use. The first is a 1993 report titled Report on the National Commission on Education. The white paper resulting from this report is The Revised National Policy on Education April 1994 (Government paper No. 2 of 1994). In the full report, chapter eight focuses on Out-of-School education and has particular relevance to distance education.

Following this policy process a paper on its implementation with regard to distance education was produced in 1994. It is titled Report of the Distance Education Seminar on Implementation of the Revised National Policy on Education.

Two related pieces of legislation were passed subsequent to these policy processes and pertain to the launch of the Botswana College of Distance and Open Learning (BOCODOL):

  • Botswana Government Gazette, Botswana College of Distance and Open Learning Act, 1998, published on 31 December 1998, Bill No. 20 of 1998.
  • Botswana Government Gazette, Botswana College of Distance and Open Learning Bill, 1998, published on 2nd October 1998, Bill No. 27 of 1998.

Use of information and communication technologies (ICTs), particularly as a policy focus, is a fairly recent development in Botswana. Levels of ICT infrastructure and use vary from department to department. The Ministry of Education is viewed as an early starter in this regard, with other departments now starting to catch up and train their staff in computer use.

In terms of physical infrastructure, the Ministry of Education is responsible for:

  • Primary schools (700 nationally);
  • Junior secondary schools (205);
  • Secondary schools (27);
  • Education centres (12 – soon to be 15);
  • Teacher education colleges (4 primary school training and 2 for secondary school teacher training);
  • Vocational centres (6-8); and
  • Non-formal Education Department (NFED) district offices (18).

In Botswana there is open access to the first ten years of schooling. This ‘basic education’ is voluntary and free for the first ten years or up to the Junior Certificate or JC (the end of Junior Secondary school). Thereafter students are selected to continue onto Senior Secondary to take the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE). At the moment, about 42 to 45% of learners are selected. The Ministry aims to increase this to 50%. Of those who do not proceed to Senior Secondary schools, approximately 15-20% enter brigades or Vocational Centres (for which they receive an allowance).

Department of Teacher Training and Development

Contact person: Matlhogonolo Rathedi (Director)
Tel: 365 5634
Fax: 306 610
E-mail: m.rathedi@BIPP.Norcol.ac.uk
Postal Address: Private Bag 005 Gaborone

This division in the ministry has made use of distance education for training its own personnel. Staff enrolled in a Master’s Degree through the Northern College in Scotland. As a result of this initiative, it was one of the first units to get e-mail access. It has also adopted distance education methods to train head teachers at primary schools. Currently, about 30 primary school head teachers are in the UK taking part in a masters course in primary school management. The intention is for these staff members to become primary school management advisors at education centres on their return. There are about fifteen education centres from which these advisors will support a cluster of primary schools. The participants have been seconded to the department of teacher training and development for five years. In the future, a further thirty primary school head teachers will be selected, but these will study the masters programme via distance education. For the short term the students will be enrolled with a UK university, but with an agreement in place to work with University of Botswana, in the long term the masters programme will be offered from UB. Botswana has about 700 primary schools nationally. The intention of the masters programme is to help head teachers in their roles as resource managers and instructional leaders. This is seen as key to the quality of primary school education in the country. With the head teachers well trained, school-based in-service educational training (INSET) programmes can be coordinated for teachers with each school drawing on the support of the education centres.

In addition to these postgraduate level distance education initiatives, this division has plans to upgrade teachers’ qualifications. Most experienced primary school teachers have a teacher training certificate, which involved two years of study beyond the JC or, in some cases, the GCSE. Now all primary school teachers are to be upgraded to diploma level. The division has found that the newly qualified teachers are more qualified than the experienced and tend to adopt a superior attitude thereby undermining experienced teachers. As a result, all teachers must now do a diploma. Some teachers will be seconded to teacher training colleges, where they will be accepted into the three-year programme at second-year level. This is not an option for all teachers, however, and about 600 teachers are expected to study for their diplomas through the University of Botswana distance education diploma programme that is planned by the Centre for Continuing Education. This programme should start in August 1999.

In addition, the division is exploring study opportunities available in South Africa to meet this new demand for teaching diplomas. Some Botswana teachers already study through South African institutions, particularly for specialized subjects like infant education and special needs in particular. The division is interested in identifying residential courses for PRESET and distance education courses for INSET in South Africa.

For secondary school teachers, Botswana has two teacher education colleges that offer three-year teaching diplomas after GCSE. While no secondary teachers have teaching certificates (they all have at least a diploma), the Ministry’s intention is for them to upgrade their qualifications from a diploma to a degree. The University of Botswana offers a Bachelors Degree in Secondary Education. However, unless teachers were awarded merits or credits in their diploma, they are not accepted into the degree programme. As a result, the ministry is in the process of identifying a suitable bridging course or degree course for these teachers. South African and other foreign education providers are being considered. The ministry has sent a number of its secondary teachers to University of Natal courses in South Africa. Again, this is for specialist subjects like music and art. This year, some teachers will now be enrolled with University of Pretoria to attend their courses. Teachers studying further are sponsored by the department. All primary and secondary education is free in Botswana. At tertiary level students, are either given a grant, a loan or a combination of grant and loan. The type of sponsorship is determined by their field of study.

Training policy for the Ministry of Education has been developed:

  • Ministry of Education (1995) A Training Policy for Professionals in Botswana: Accepted Recommendations. Ministry of Education: Gaborone
  • Ministry of Education (1995) A Training Policy for Education Professionals in Botswana: A Report to the Ministry of Education, Government Printer: Gaborone

Every two years the ministry hosts a national conference on teacher education. The previous one was held in 1997 and the proceeds are recorded in Improving Educational Quality for Effective Learning: The Teacher’s Dilemma, Papers presented at the 3rd Biennial Conference on Teacher Education, August 26-29, 1997. The next one is scheduled for February 2000.

The department supervises teacher training at two levels: in-service training (INSET) and pre-service training (PRESET). For PRESET, the Ministry has four training colleges for primary school teachers and two for secondary school teachers. For INSET, it uses twelve education centres distributed nationally. There are soon to fifteen of these centres. Mr Rathedi described a number of enabling and hindering factors at each level.

For PRESET training, the ministry has been able to upgrade the educational qualifications of staff such that the minimum qualification is a masters degree. All professional staff at teacher training institutions have at least a masters degree. Financing to the department been quite generous thereby enabling the department to implement its policies.

The strength of INSET provision is the education centres, their staff, and their equipment. The education centres are staffed by qualified and experienced teachers trained in INSET. All education officers are degree holders. Those staff supervising secondary teachers should have a masters degree. Staff numbers at each centres vary, although the ideal would be to have seven professional and additional support staff at each centre. Currently, education centres have about five staff on average. All centres are well equipped with resources and a library, a production room, and audio-visual aids. They are not currently connected to the Worldwide Web although all have computers and e-mail access. All staff have been trained in computer use. The Ministry intends INSET provision to be school-based. Each school is expected to establish a staff development coordinator and committee. INSET is then planned for the whole school. For this reason, head teachers need to good instructional leaders and hence the above-mentioned focus on training head teachers. Once the school has developed its INSET programme it can approach the education centre for support like funding, transport, material provision, and resource people.

The Ministry plays a role in quality assurance at teacher training colleges. Previously, the Ministry would conduct regular visits and inspections at the colleges but these were rejected by college staff. The staff felt that the inspection was not a constructive way of monitoring and evaluating quality, and put forward a suggestion that a self-study exercise be conducted. Lecturers, administrators, staff, and students were to agree on criteria for evaluation and then use these criteria to assess themselves. They would then produce a self-study report and request the ministry to form a review committee consisting of teacher educators from other colleges. The committee members would read the self-study report, spend a week at the college and write a separate report. The college staff would then reconcile the recommendations of the two reports to produce a five-year development plan. This system is not currently working as smoothly as was hoped, and may be reviewed in the near future.

Department of Non-formal Education

Contact person: Mr T.K. Pule
Telephone: 09 267 3656301
Facsimile: 09 267 313199
E-mail: tpule@gov.bw

There is now no doubt that distance education is appreciated in Botswana, and that the government is committed to implementing distance education programmes. It is widely thought that distance education has the potential to resolve some of the country’s education problems. For example, BOCODOL has been established to cater for distance education provision for basic education (the fist ten years of schooling) needs. For many students who are not selected to proceed to formal senior secondary schooling, distance education offers an alternative pathway. Distance education also provides opportunities for adults who would like to pursue further education. For this reason, BOCODOL has been established to cater for school equivalency and further education for both adults and youth. Teachers and nurses form another large clientele for distance education. Tertiary education opportunities via distance education are also becoming more popular. Distance education providers will continue to make use of traditional technologies like print and radio, but are investigating possibilities of newer technologies like television and computers.

With the removal of the distance education division of the Non-formal Education Department (NFED) to form BOCODOL, the department remains responsible for an adult basic education programme which is run in face-to-face classes throughout the country. The department coordinates a network of 18 district offices. Each office is staffed with a supervisor and several subordinate staff. The department coordinates literacy classes, some post literacy initiatives like producing easy readers in English and seTswana, and has a home economics unit which runs some income-generating activities.

When the literacy project was started in the late 1980s, it attracted approximately 40,000 learners. Numbers have declined since then and fluctuate between about 14,000 and 20,000 learners currently. In rural areas, most learners are women, while male learners are more prevalent in urban centres. The programme is under review to establish whether its courses and approaches are meeting community and learner needs. Increasingly, literacy classes are being introduced in the workplace in urban centres. Parastatals like the Botswana Power Corporation and the Water Corporation seem to be more organized than other government departments in this regard.

The national literacy programme works through local communities. For each settlement, a Village development Committee is approached, and, if a group of interested literacy learners is identified, classes are offered. Volunteers who receive a small allowance per session tutor the group. These volunteers are supported and monitored by a literacy assistant, who is a full-time employee of the department. There are between 1,500 and 2,000 volunteers or literacy group leaders, 162 literacy assistants, 18 district supervisors, and 5 regional officers involved in the project. Volunteers are agitating for full-time employment. Relying on volunteers causes some problems for the programme, as they are generally poorly qualified with a standard seven, school leavers certificate and are less reliable and easy to control. Initial and refresher literacy training is offer to all volunteers.

The department has divided the literacy course into five levels termed primer 1 to 5. Learners are awarded certificates for each primer, but these generally do not enable them to find employment. The Revised National Policy in Education, released in 1994, recommended that the national literacy project be extended to become an Adult Basic Education course which will culminate in a parallel qualification to the standard seven, school leavers’ certificate. The policy also stated that children wanting to join the literacy classes in areas where there were no primary schools should be permitted to do so and supported accordingly.

Department of Curriculum Development and Evaluation

Contact persons: David Ratsatsi , Mr Tladi
E-mail: Dratsatsi@gov.bw; Ltladi@gov.bw

The Revised National Policy on Education released in 1994 recommended the introduction of Computer Science as a subject option in Senior Secondary schools and Computer Awareness for the three years of Junior Secondary school. As a result, a new curriculum for Computer Awareness has been developed: It is currently being piloted in eleven Junior Secondary schools. The curriculum aims to equip learners with computer skills that can be applied in all subjects. The department has adopted an ‘infusion strategy’, whereby all teachers and learners are equipped with basic computer skills. The department has taken care to train all teachers, irrespective of subject specialization. This is intended to counter the historic focus on mathematics and science teachers, which has developed a kind of aloofness amongst these teachers in schools. The department aims to give a message that everyone can use computers.

Office Technique, a company contacted by the central government’s Computer Bureau, is contracted to repair and maintain all government computers. This includes schools. As a result, there are no technicians or appropriately trained teacher who are responsible for maintaining the LAN at each school. Technical problems have to be directed to Office Technique. The ministry is considering training teachers to be able to troubleshoot minor technical problems. Currently PRESET teacher training offers Computer Studies as a minor subject specialization, which must be accompanied by an additional major subject specialization. The department has been struck be the enthusiasm for the projects from schools. Even where teachers and administrative staff have little computer competence, they seem very keen and willing to learn.

All schools in Junior Secondary schools already have computer laboratories, which were built in preparation for rollout of computer equipment. The eleven pilot schools have been equipped with twenty networked computers each. Each school has been given a modem for dial-up Internet access and has been allocated a single e-mail address. Most schools already have between one and three computers for administrative use. In the pilot schools, these do not form part of the Local Area Network (LAN), although an integrated school network is planned for the long term. Besides the eleven pilot schools, many schools have already acquired computer equipment through their own efforts and relationships with donor or businesses. It is anticipated that the pilot schools will be maintained as prototypes for computer use, and that more schools will be added to the project annually. (No audit of computers in schools has been conducted).

A UK organization, the Internet Learning Trust, has been involved in the pilot project, offering technical expertise and drawing on UK experiences. One of the aims of the project is to enable schools in Botswana to communicate with schools in Botswana. The project has also established some links with the SOWETO Schoolnet project in South Africa. Some schools have developed a web presence, for example:

Some teachers at other pilot schools have attended training on web development and are in the process of developing web sites for their schools. The Department of Curriculum Development has developed a web site, but this has not been maintained and is currently dated. It can be viewed at www.info.bw/~cde/.

Radio Botswana Educational Broadcasting Division: Non-formal Education

Contact Details

Contact Persons:
Doris Bogatsu (Adult Education officer)
Postal Adress: P/Bag 00483 Gaborone
Tel: 09 267 374810
Fax: 09 267 374812

David Kelebonye (Adult Educator)
Postal Adress: P/Bag 00483 Gaborone
Tel: 09 267 374810
Fax: 09 267 374812

Dudu Mphane (Senior Adult Educator)
Postal Adress: P/Bag 0043 Gaborone
Tel: 09 267 365 6300
Fax: 09 267 313199

Mmatau Serojane (Adult Education)
Postal Adress: P/Bag 00483 Gaborone
Tel: 09 267 374810
Fax: 09 267 374 812


Botswana has two radio channels – Radio Botswana 1 and Radio Botswana 2. The former is a public channel, while the latter is commercial. RB1 has an Educational Broadcasting Division, which has been divided into Non-formal and Schools’ broadcasting sections. The non-formal division produces distance education programmes to support BOCODOL, adult literacy programmes and civic education programmes.

Distance Education Programmes:

These radio programmes are produced collectively by radio producers and course development officers at the Botswana College of Open and Distance Learning (BOCODOL). BOCODOL is responsible for distance education provision for the Junior Certificate (JC) and General Certificate of Education (GCE) in the school curriculum. Fifteen-minute programmes are broadcast every Tuesday evening Previously, there were some repeat broadcasts, but currently this is not possible. All subjects and levels share a single slot. Many of the students taking these courses are out-of-school youth or people wanting to improve their JC or GCE results. The radio programmes are used as enrichment to supplement the printed course materials produced by BOCODOL.

The course design is not radio-based for the following reasons:

  • Some students do not have access to radios;
  • Some students do not have time to listen to programmes at the time broadcast; or
  • Some students are excluded due to radio coverage and problems of reception.

Students can receive support at study centres. These centres are no equipped with radios. The courses are promoted in brochures and through support services broadcasting slots, which are run during enrolment and examination preparation periods. Many politicians promote the courses by mentioning BOCODOL in speeches and public statements. In addition, the Ministry of Education’s Department of Non-Formal Education has a field division that coordinates promotion and operations of the courses. This involves holding public meetings, giving presentations, and producing fliers and brochures on BOCODOL.

Adult Literacy and Adult Basic Education

Educational radio programmes are also produced to support the work of the National Literacy project coordinated by the Department of Non-formal Education. Two 15-minute programmes are broadcast per week on Mondays and Saturdays. The format of these vary and include:

  • Interviews with learners and learner testimonies;
  • Encouraging enrolment into the programme;
  • Encouraging literate people to support illiterate people to enrol – a motto of ‘literacy is our problem too’ is used.

Some programmes include elements of encouraging functional literacy and income-generating projects, which are available on completion of the programme. These income-generating projects focus on skills like knitting, sewing, baking, and jam making. These are coordinated by the home economics division in the Department of Non-Formal Education. Approximately 20,000 learners are enrolled annually in the project, although numbers fluctuate. Most learners (approximately two-thirds) are women. The programme has not been accredited historically. This may change, as the Non-Formal Education Department is currently in transition with the launch of BOCODOL as a parastatal.

Civic Education

The Non-formal section of the Educational Broadcasting Division also produces radio programmes focusing on civic education. These were started in the early 1980s and focus on issues like health, politics, food safety, shopping, transport and topical issues. These 30-minute programmes are broadcast at 19h00 on Saturdays. The format varies, including features, talk shows, interviews, and talks. Listeners are able to telephone the radio producers after the show with comments and questions. RB does not make use of ’phone-in facilities during broadcasts. Historically, listeners have written to the producers with queries. These letters were responded to by directing the writer to relevant support organizations. This is currently, less prevalent.

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