Botswana has made great strides in educational development since independence in 1966. At that time there were very few graduates in the country and only a very small percentage of the population attended secondary school.
Botswana increased its adult literacy rate from 69% in 1991 to 83% in 2008.
With the discovery of diamonds and the increase in government revenue that this brought, there was a huge increase in educational provision in the country. All students were guaranteed ten years of basic education, leading to a Junior Certificate qualification.
Approximately half of the school population attends a further two years of secondary schooling leading to the award of the Botswana General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE). Secondary education in Botswana is neither free nor compulsory.
After leaving school, students can attend one of the seven technical colleges in the country, or take vocational training courses in teaching or nursing.
Students enter the University of Botswana, Botswana College of Agriculture, Botswana International University of Science and Technology and the Botswana Accountancy College in Gaborone.
Many other students end up in the numerous private tertiary education colleges around the country. Notable amongst these is Botho University, the country’s first private university which offers undergraduate programmes in Accounting, Business and Computing.
Another international university is the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology which offers various associate degrees in Creative Arts. Other tertiary institutions include Ba Isago, ABM University College the largest school of business and management, New Era, Gaborone Institute of Professional Studies,Gaborone University College Of Law And Professional Studies etc.
Tremendous strides in providing quality education have been made by private education providers such that a large number of the best students in the country are now applying to them as well.
A vast majority of these students are government sponsored. The nation’s second international university, the Botswana International University of Science and Technology, was completed in Palapye in 2011.
The quantitative gains have not always been matched by qualitative ones. Primary schools in particular still lack resources and the teachers are less well paid than their secondary school colleagues.
The Botswana Ministry of Education is working to establish libraries in primary schools in partnership with the African Library Project. The Government of Botswana hopes that by investing a large part of national income in education, the country will become less dependent on diamonds for its economic survival, and less dependent on expatriates for its skilled workers.
Those objectives are in part pursued through policies in favour of vocational education, gathered within the NPVET (National Policy on Vocational Education and Training), aiming to “integrate the different types of vocational education and training into one comprehensive system”. Botswana invests 21% of its government spending in education.
In January 2006, Botswana announced the reintroduction of school fees after two decades of free state education though the government still provides full scholarships with living expenses to any Botswana citizen in university, either at the University of Botswana or if the student wishes to pursue an education in any field not offered locally, such as medicine, they are provided with a full scholarship to study abroad.