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Evaluation database

Evaluation report

2000 BTW: A Consultancy Report on the Analysis of the Provision and Impact of Five Non-Formal Basic Education Programs in Botswana

Author: Mafela, L.; Ramorogo, G. J.; Letshabo, K.M.; Maruatona, T.

Executive summary


The importance of Non-Formal Basic Education in Botswana has always been recognised. The initial efforts to provide non-formal basic education were restricted to the provision of basic skills of reading, writing and numeracy under the auspices of the Department of Non-Formal Education (DNFE). The result was the establishment of Botswana National Literacy Programme (NLP). The Programme was developed based on the findings of a task force chaired by the then Coordinator of Rural Development based in the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning. Botswana's non-formal basic education (NFBE) project consists of five programs: programs for remote area in- and out-of-school youth in community schools; Literacy in the Workplace; Distance Learning; Night Schools and Income-Generating Projects.

Purpose / Objective

The objectives of the study are as follows:
- To analyze the provision and impact of the five non-formal basic education programs in Botswana, with a focus on the nature of their clientele, the way they function, the curricula and conditions under which they operate, as well as problems experienced by the participants
- To analyze the impact of NFBE programs in terms of outcomes such as access to formal employment, self-employment and income generation
- To analyze the extent to which NFBE programs equip learners as individuals, and as family and community members with problem solving and general life skills, to enable them to be self-reliant, self-sufficient and to have improved self-worth
- To assess the extent to which the NFBE programs enable minority or marginalized groups such as women and girls, out-of-school youth and remote area children gain access to education in order to improve their life conditions
- To assess how the status and quality of NFBE programs/provisions of NFBE programs could be improved in order to enable participants to utilize the knowledge and skills that they acquired optimally
- To establish and examine the nature and level of involvement by, and identify the various local authorities, government, public and non-governmental agencies that offer NFBE programs in Botswana


Quantitative data was obtained from closed-choice questionnaires administered to 687 current and past participants of the programs including teachers, tutors and parents, in addition to students. The qualitative data came from group interviews of 93 people, and field notes as well as informal discussions with the respondents. Four companies that offered literacy classes were looked at compared to two businesses without such classes.

Key Findings and Conclusions

Workplace literacy:
Workplace literacy is highly regarded by its participants. The program imparts basic literacy skills that participants use in a variety of ways in their personal lives, such as filling in forms at a bank or for a personal identity document such as a passport. Some of the participants are also able to assist their children with their homework. For those who had no schooling before, 65.4% can now read signs, notices, memos etc; 30.7% report they use literacy skills in other aspects. For those who had primary 3 or less and primary 4-6, 66.7% can now read signs and 33.3% use literacy skills in other aspects. For those who had completed primary school, 26.7% can now read signs and 53.3% use literacy skills in other aspects while 20% reported that they do not use the literacy skills at all. In many respects, the program has succeeded in so far as equipping participants with the basic literacy and numeracy skills. Participants feel that it could be improved in two main ways: introduce English earlier into cl
asses; teach income-generating skills as part of the workplace program not a distinct aspect; enable participants to acquire a recognized certificate on completion of prima five.

Attendance is generally poor as it is determined by, and is secondary to, the larger needs of the company. This is further compounded by the fact that the literacy classes are held during working hours. Poor eyesight seems to be a common problem, which seems to prevent some people from enrolling at all.

Program for Children in Remote Area Community Schools:
In spite of the realization of the general benefits of school, there are clearly issues that still mitigate against enrollment. It was found that 40% of the young men and 28.6% of young women who dropped out of school indicated that they did not see the value of education. Parents, many of whom were illiterate themselves, wanted their children to learn vocational skills such as sewing, carpentry, crop production, pottery, but also include reading and writing. Participants were asked how to encourage dropouts or those who have never attended school to enroll. 63.3% of young men stated they should be "given incentives in the form of money or clothes" while "should be forced or should be encouraged" accounted for 10% each. With regard to women, the highest recorded response of 36.4% believed that "encouraging parents" was the most important thing while "should be given incentives" accounted for 24.2%.

Non-formal Night School:
The majority of respondents 67.9% attend night school because they failed Junior Certificate and thus would like to acquire O levels. A significant percentage of employed respondents 37.5% attend night school because they want to have a promotion. 41.5% of the respondents indicated that night school has enabled them to "perform tasks that they were not skilled in before." 26.7% felt that "everything learnt in the program is essential" while 9.5% cited "home economics," 11.2% reported bookkeeping, and 25.9% for agriculture as the most useful subjects.

Some 39% of current students feel that the qualifications that they hope to obtain will enable them to get better paying jobs while only 4.2% felt that it will not improve the quality of their lives. 69% believed that non-formal night schools are appreciated by employers while 21.4% reported that employers do not recognize the qualifications. Advantages to night school are that students can study and work at the same time 49.6%, flexibility in subject combinations offered 21.8% and 16% see no advantage at all.

A significant 34.6% cite lack of school fees as a general problem of night school, with 28.2% pointing out lack of equipment and facilities. 19.1% are dissatisfied with either the performance or high absenteeism of teachers.

Income Generating Projects:
More than 70% of the respondents reported that their leaders (Literacy Assistants and /or Literacy Group Leaders) or NGOs were instrumental in helping them set up the projects. None of the participants reported to have received any assistance from community volunteers and only one individual reported assitance by VDC [related to Department of Non-formal Education]. The most popular reason for project choice 30.8% was the demand for the product to be sold in a given community. About 11.5% noted that they were involved in their project because it was the only one available.

23.7% of participants have attained financial stability, which they attribute to their involvement in the projects. 48% reported that they have gained "more respect": 77.8% of males and 41.7% for women. Problems that are encountered include lack of marketing skills for the goods that are produced, lack of support from the communities, and lack of transport, which was cited most frequently. Despite this, the projects are deemed to be a success by 89.6% of male and 86.5% of female participants. The most popular indicator of success seems to be the skills that participants acquire from their involvement in the projects.

Distance Learning:
While the ages ranged from 17-56 years, 79% of participants were below the age of 30 years who can still benefit from future education and training. The major reason for leaving formal education was failing the Junior Certificate 44.6% while 18.9% could not afford to continue schooling. Distance learning plays a significant role in enabling students to acquire higher qualifications. While only 6.8% intended to go as far as Junior Certificate through distance education, the majority intended to obtain either the Cambridge Overseas School Certificate 34.2% or the General Certificate of Educator 35.6%. About one fifth 23.3% aspire for other qualifications including professional qualifications like diplomas or degrees.

For past students, 13% report that their qualification has had no effect on their lives while 26.1% believe that it has made them perform job tasks better; 17.4% were able to apply for better jobs while the same number actually got better paying jobs. Some 46.3% of respondents suggest that their employers recognize the qualifications attained through distance education.

In doing most of the work on their own, students feel that they miss out on the necessary and immediate feedback they need in order to proceed confidently. The need for a more effective tutorial system is emphasized.


There is a need for better coordination between the Department of Non-formal Education and other stakeholders to avoid duplication of effort and parallel planing. This study has been conducted while the different ministries and stakeholders have been pursuing parallel reviews and research projects on the same issues.

Find ways to test and appropriately certify programs to carry more weight with employers.

Inequitable access to resources between formal and non-formal education programs impacts negatively on the benefits of education to non-formal learners. Encourage the use of shared resources between local schools and study centers. Assist with the provision of learning materials to students by providing a few copies of prescribed and key support texts to night schools and study centers.

Most do not get reintegrated into the formal education system although participation clearly increases their options for doing so. If re-entry is to be meaningfully facilitated, participants should be targeted when they are younger before they get caught up in a cycle of poverty, which could be further complicated by child-bearing/child-rearing responsibilities.

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