The European Union (EU) has splashed a whooping P131 million on Botswana to help the country improve the education sector in such a way that there is no gap between public schools and private schools. The European Union Ambassador Alexander Baum said they were supporting the Government in its ongoing reforms in the education sector. This was the seventh payment under the Human Resource Development Programme which has to date disbursed P953 million to the government to support its efforts. He said one of the problems that hinder and limit children from accessing knowledge is the language barrier. He said they are willing to help in the interventions of making public education to be at par with the private ones so that parents will end up not having to prefer private over public schools. “Progress was noted in the education sector related to the approval of several frameworks related to teacher training, rationalisation of the sector, multiple pathways and to access and retention of children in schools,” he said. The EU Education Programme Manager Mikaela Grongvist hopes that Botswana will be like Finland at one point where the education system is just the same everywhere and in every school. “In Finland we do not have private schools – it is all public schools so the parents only have to take their students to the nearest school not that the other one teaches better and has better services than the other,” she said.
Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Basic Education Helen Chilisa said they have priority areas where one of those is the early childhood development programme. Chilisa said they want their students to be competent globally. She said they are very committed as the ministry to make sure that the education sector improves in Botswana. “Through our targeted interventions especially ensuring that our teachers are effective professionals we envisage a gradual improvement in school education. We want to see that our children and our youth have an education that is enriching, safe, positive and relevant to their daily lives,” she said. Giving an overview of the partnership, Senior Education Advisor Jaap Kuiper said in dealing with this the words sector and strategic are very important where he also highlighted that early childhood care and development is a must. Kuiper said a concern is that of the young people in Botswana of secondary school going age only 50% of those are in class while the rest are not. He said 21st century skills are a must for development and there is need to constantly be educated. “One of the most important things is competence because when competence is gained it is not lost easily,” he said.