World Bank Calls For Reform In Botswana’s Education System

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  • “The current one-size-fits-all structure of secondary education in Botswana no longer serves the purpose for which it was established.”
  • Poor academic performance, financial constraints and limited space at tertiary institutions constrain the transition of secondary graduates to tertiary education.
  • VTCs also provide programs which are obsolete or near obsolete due to technological advances

TSHIAMO TABANE

A new research report by the World Bank has indicated that in order to meet the needs of contemporary economy and labour market Botswana should reform its education system.
The research report presented by the World Bank Botswana office at University of Botswana last week stated that despite huge investment in the education sector, Botswana’s education system is still failing to produce graduates who are ready to meet the needs of the labour market.
The report criticized Botswana for its one-size-fits all model of secondary and senior secondary education which focuses on the development of academic skills and preparation for university education and the failure to provide vocational skills to students who exit the education system to join the job market. “The current one-size-fits-all structure of secondary education in Botswana no longer serves the purpose for which it was established. One-size-fits-all systems of secondary education were developed in a context in which secondary education was an elite enterprise designed to prepare graduates for university education and work in the public sector. The reality is that only a minority of secondary graduates continue to tertiary education,” states the report.
The research report revealed that poor academic performance, financial constraints and limited space at tertiary institutions constrain the transition of secondary graduates to tertiary education. Figures from the report show that tertiary enrollment rates in Botswana stands at 27 percent and according to the statistics, this means one in four senior secondary education graduates advance to tertiary level and for more than three-quarters of students, senior secondary education is their highest level of educational attainment before joining the job-market.
According to World Bank where there are vocational training programs in secondary schools, the curriculum provides training and skills not aligned with the needs of the contemporary economy and majority of students who exit secondary education and go to TVET institutions to prepare for the needs of the economy and labor market are also failing to meet the needs of the labour market. “TVET institutions in the country also provide programs which are obsolete or near obsolete due to technological advances,” said World Bank researchers led by Andreas Blom.
The researchers indicated that for Botswana to meet the needs of contemporary economy and labour market it should reform its secondary education by giving senior secondary education students opportunities to choose between academic and vocational education based on their career ambitions. “The academic pathway will service the needs of those who plan to continue their education at the tertiary level while the vocational pathway will help those who plan to enter the labor force and find a job following the completion of their secondary education. Both pathways will provide students with competencies and skills they require for their career.” The researchers suggested that the new curriculum should consist of two components: one that provides practical skills and one that provides further academic studies to meet the requirements for entry to tertiary education in the case of the academic career pathway or vocational training to qualify a graduate for entry to a particular occupation or profession. “Both pathways should share a set of common core curriculum centered on the provision of the foundational knowledge and skills demanded by the labor market,” said the researchers.
The World Bank has indicated that there is an urgent need to modernize TVET, including the updating of TVET subjects to more effectively align them with labor market needs, employment demands, and industry standards and added that to ensure the successful introduction of multiple pathways in senior secondary education, public campaigns must address the poor public perception of TVET in the country.  “TVET-related study is generally considered to be an option limited to academically weak students in all three countries. Young people, like their parents and teachers, hold strong beliefs that they should aim for white-collar jobs premised on academic qualifications even when statistics show that only 10 to 15 percent of youth obtain the qualifications required to access such jobs.”

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