Early School Withdrawals and Underperformance as Indicators of Poor Attention to Learner’s Welfare: Botswana in 50 Years of Self-Rule

Boipuso B. Marumo, Nkobi O. Pansiri


September 30th 2016 was Botswana’s 50th birthday. Botswana, a deeply impoverished country in 1966 was on that day an upper-middle income country in the world rankings. Its education expenditure was one of the highest in the world, at around 9% of the GDP. It was on record to have provided more than 90% of universal and free primary education. Guided by the 1977 and 1994 education policies, the country committed itself to the universal declaration that education is a fundamental human right. It adopted a priority of reducing the growing percentages of non-enrolled school age children, let alone working around the clock to increase access to basic education schooling. Despite these good policies and sound financial resources, it has not escaped global challenges of unequal access which has denied some learners the opportunity to complete their education programmes. It also faced huge challenges of low school retention rates, particularly in the basic education programme, that is primary and secondary school systems. This article considers these challenges as critical indicators of lack of attention to learner’s welfare in public schools. It argues that in the 50 years of self-rule, the basic education program remained trapped in a culture of moral indifference and silent exclusion. The article argues that post 50th birthday, Botswana needs to begin a new chapter, developing an education system that cares about learner’s education welfare more than ever before.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/jei.v2i2.10270


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