Botswana has transformed itself from one of the poorest countries in the world to one of the fastest growing economies – from a bleak $70 GDP per capita in the late 1960s to the current $18,825 GDP per year.
Mining, cattle and tourism drive the economy. Its high gross national income gives it a comfortable standard of living for two million population.
The country’s education system has continued to transform since the sixties. Between 1991 and 2008, Botswana increased adult literacy rate by 14%. There was a huge focus on education following the discovery of diamonds, which led to a boost in Government revenue. This resulted in all students undertaking ten years of basic education, leading to a Junior Certificate qualification.
Around half of local students went on to complete two years of secondary school – which grants them the Botswana General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE). Botswana has seven technical colleges, which are open to students, post school.
Invest in skills. Less reliance on diamonds.
By putting national resources into education, the Government of Botswana hopes to reduce the reliance on diamonds for its economic prosperity. There is a push for upskilling locals, instead of using expatriates for its skilled workforce.
As it stands, the country allocates 21% of its government spending in education. Fans of vocational education, Botswana aims to ‘integrate the different types of vocational education and training into one, comprehensive system.’
Positioning Botswana as an education hub
While the African country is doing well to get more people into education, there’s still a gap in addressing the needs of enterprises. There needs to be a stronger connection between graduates skills and the labour market.
GIZ is guiding its partner institutions to boost the performance of TVET providers, and bringing sustainable improvements to the quality of their training courses. Co-funded by the Government, the program aligns with the ‘Capacity Development to achieve Botswana’s Vision 2016’. The programme is divided into four areas of activity:
- Improving the quality and labour-market relevance of training courses at TVET colleges (needs-based training)
- Training teaching and management staff of vocational institutions and Enterprises
- Increasing private-sector participation in vocational training
- Establishing a pilot scheme for the training of skilled trades for the mining industry.
Local businesses are also included to help improve employability and prepare youth for work. There are other initiatives in the works, too.
The Ministry of Education and Skills Development in Botswana partnered with the Republic of Korea and UNESCO, launching of the Better Education for Africa’s Rise programmes. The project includes three programs at the Diploma level:
- Diploma in Culinary Arts
- Diploma in Travel Management
- Diploma in Hospitality Management.
Introduced by TVET curriculum experts in Botswana, the program aims to help graduates learn the skills, knowledge and attitudes required within the sector. The tourism industry, for example, requires high-level skills – and Government hopes to up skill in line with the country’s tourism strategy.
Botswana’s Government is leading vocational training change in order to transform their economy. The country is a sound example of what can be achieved economically when there’s strong focus on education.
“If general education is considered the key to development, technical and vocational education and training must be the master key that can alleviate poverty and help achieve sustainable development,” says Assistant Minister of Education Skills and Development, Mr Kgotla Autlwetse.
In a previous article, we discussed the milestone memorandum of understanding (MOU) that Botswana signed with Zimbabwe. An alliance to promote sound teaching in Vocational and Technical colleges, Botswana’s educators can be trained at recognised TVET training institutions in Zimbabwe. This is a great example of two African countries working together to combat the need for ongoing youth training.
Vocational education is the answer to skilled labour, creating employment, and improving the quality of life. To invest in education in your country, region, or TVET system contact Wendy Perry via firstname.lastname@example.org.