“Botswana has made tremendous progress in education, but the skills sets necessary to meet employer needs are not adequate,” said Elene Imnadze, World Bank resident representative in Botswana. “Improving quality education and access to job training that equips workers with a diverse skill set would increase employment opportunities across all education levels and promote economic growth.”
Education is one of the six key hubs in the Vision 2016 and National Development Plan10, established to support Botswana’s economic growth and diversification. The public investment in education is high, reaching more than 9% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Primary school enrollment in the country stands at 90%, and in the last five years, this has assisted the government’s drive to achieve universal basic education and has resulted in between 96-100% of students continuing on to secondary education. Despite the progress in increasing enrollment, Botswana lags behind other similar income countries in student learning outcomes, according to the international benchmarking.
Botswana is currently faced with the problem of educated unemployment, with unemployment at 17.5% in 2012. Due to the low quality and relevance of education and training, Botswana’s workforce has inadequate skills to meet the current labor demands resulting in a shortage of skilled labor.
The study, comprised of four policy notes, examines the provision of education and skills training in relation to labor market needs and economic growth in the country. The findings highlighted three key areas for improvement:
- Improving the quality of basic education particularly under-performing schools and schools in rural areas
- Developing appropriate labor market skill sets; and
- Increasing access to job training programs which will expedite a reduction in the skills gap in Botswana to diversify its economy, facilitate a stronger, more sustainable economic and employment growth, and equip its workforce with a variety of skill sets that meet employer needs
“We have noted the various important conclusions reached in the policy notes,” said Honorable Unity Dow, Botswana’s assistant minister of education and skills development said in her keynote address. “I am confident the opportunity to transform our education system to achieve greater relevance to our economic needs has been presented. I am particularly confident that this government will take or has taken that opportunity.”
The study also recommends targeted policy interventions to improve the access and quality of basic education, strengthening the capacity and relevance of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) system, and fostering collaboration among industries, tertiary education and research institutions to promote science, technology, engineering, mathematics and to support the economic transformation and growth of Botswana.
Botswana Skills for Competitiveness and Economic Growth Study is meant to inform and facilitate in-country dialogues on needed policy reforms, interventions and solutions for addressing the challenges facing education and skills in Botswana.