Botswana Examinations Council
Overview of Education System
The administration of the education system at the primary level in Botswana is the joint responsibility of the Ministry of Education and Skills Development (MoESD) and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD). The MLGRD is responsible for the infrastructure of primary schools as well as food service and supplies. The MoESD oversees staffing, curriculum and instruction, and monitoring and evaluation at all levels of schooling and solely administers secondary and tertiary education. This joint system is meant to decentralize services and provide effective learning materials. The Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs also offers post-secondary training.
Formal education in Botswana begins at the preprimary level and continues to the tertiary level. Tertiary education is provided by institutions that award degrees up to the doctoral level.1 The first two years of formal education (ages 4 to 6) comprise the preprimary level.2 Preprimary education in Botswana is provided mainly by private individuals and organizations registered with the MoESD. They follow an established minimum curriculum framework developed by the MoESD. Most providers offer both social and academic elements. The MoESD and MLGRD share responsibility for the management and supervision of early childhood care and education (ECC&E).
The official entry age for primary school is 6. Some children may start school late due to various factors, such as the type of settlement in which they reside. Botswana provides a 10-year basic education, which is not compulsory.3 Primary education consists of lower primary4 (Grades 1 to 4) and upper primary5 (Grades 5 to 7) with attainment and diagnostic examinations in Grades 4 and 7, respectively. Running parallel to formal primary schooling are the National Literacy Programme and Adult Basic Education, targeting those who are not able to enroll in the formal education system.
Junior secondary education lasts three years and is followed by two years of senior secondary education. Terminal examinations are taken at the end of each level and serve as a basis for selection and placement as students progress to the next level. Tertiary education ranges from two to four years, depending on the program of study and the institution.6 The Distance Education Programme offers opportunities to individuals who want to pursue studies while working. At all levels of formal education, special education programs are available to students with special education needs.
Most schools in Botswana are government owned and run. The government is the main source of educational funding. The Ministry’s budget allocation has been increasing steadily in recent years.7 As of 2005, parents contribute only 5 percent of the total expenditure for the secondary education of their children, while primary education remains free for citizens.
Private schools are registered with the MoESD. Most private primary schools design their own curricula, which are more advanced than the curricula offered in government schools. Students in private schools take the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE). Most private secondary schools offer an International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE).
Languages of Instruction
Setswana is the national language and English is the official language of Botswana, although other languages are spoken. English is the medium of instruction in government schools from the second grade8 to the tertiary level. Instruction in English begins in preschool in private English-medium schools. Students are taught exclusively in Setswana in first grade, and Setswana is taught as a compulsory subject for citizens of Botswana throughout the primary and secondary school system.