Africa is on the move: the continent has some of the fastest-expanding economies in the world with a rapidly growing young population. Botswana is one such example, rich in natural resources, and has been a middle-income country for the past five decades. Progressive government spending on services enabled the country to significantly improve the quality of life for many of its 2.2 million citizens, including approximately 800,000 young people. Children and adolescents have enormous potential to transform their lives, contributing to country- and region-wide outcomes. Today, two policies – the National Vision 2036 and the National Development Plan (2017–2023) – recognize
that education is critical to unlocking a transformative demographic dividend that will help spread prosperity and make the economy knowledge-driven. With the right government policies, investments and strong technical support, Botswana’s children and adolescents can contribute to this national vision. Schools for Africa (SFA) is a global initiative, which aims to achieve quality education across sub-Saharan Africa, ensuring that all children, including the most remote and marginalized, are learning and gaining the skills to succeed in life and work. SFA convenes businesses, governments and individuals and has a proven track record in partnering with the private sector to achieve education results for children.

The challenges

Despite strong results in core education indicators, children from ‘deprived’ families – large, rural households headed by a female with low educational attainment and at least one family member who is HIV positive, disabled or both – are much less likely to be in school than their peers. Botswana’s education system is also marred by poor secondary to tertiary transition rates and a mismatch between skills and labour force needs. The following additional challenges must also be addressed:

• Early childhood education – children are not attending preschool programmes. In 2016, gross enrolment was 20 per cent;
• Out-of-school children – approximately 15 per cent of primary-school-age children were not in school between 2009 and 2013;
• Quality of learning – declining pass rates over a five-year period from 41 per cent in 2012 to 34 per cent in 20172 suggest that the quality of students moving into senior secondary and tertiary-level education is deteriorating;
• Outdated curriculum and teaching methods – appropriate curricula that teach vocational and life skills are needed to improve learning outcomes, life skills and employability;
• High HIV rates – National HIV prevalence (2013) among adolescents was the second highest globally, at 19 per cent;
• Violence against children persists – a 2012 survey indicated that 40 per cent of children aged 10–19 had experienced bullying; 25 per cent had been threatened or injured with a weapon; and nearly 13 per cent had been forced to have sex during the 12 months prior to the survey.

The Peter Krämers Foundartion`s and UNICEF’s response in Botswana

UNICEF Botswana works in partnership with the government on education and learning, resulting in:

increased access to and enrolment in early childhood development (ECD) programmes, a government-endorsed ECD Policy Framework in March 2018, and a communityled integrated ECD programme that targets caregivers/ parents and ECD teachers, strengthening their capacity to provide quality early childhood education. UNICEF supports ‘Out of School Education for Children’, helping to reach children in remote areas who have difficulty accessing school and staying enrolled. Together with the government, UNICEF is striving to make basic education accessible to all, regardless of their location, socio-economic status, cultural background or disability status.

Impact and results

With a long track record of designing and implementing education programmes that create a positive impact on children, UNICEF sustainably drives the quality of education in Botswana. Investments through Schools for Africa (SFA) in Botswana will contribute to emerging
areas of work and impact by extending early learning and accelerated school readiness programmes to the most disadvantaged. Specifically, by 2021, UNICEF and partners will:

• Increase the percentage of children aged 36 to 59 months attending early childhood education from a baseline of 17 per cent in 2013 to 75 per cent by establishing quality policies and programmes;
• Increase the national examination pass rates at the end of primary education from a baseline of 69 per cent in 2014 to 75 per cent;
• Increase the national examination pass rates at the end of lower secondary education from 41 per cent to 60 per cent;
• Increase the lower secondary education net enrolment rate from 53 per cent to 60 per cent;
• Support approximately 800,000 children in Botswana to gain basic education and life skills for them to be successful in their personal livelihoods and contribute to the country’s economic growth.