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Socio-economics in the Basin: Key Issues for Human Development:

Access To Education


The paramount importance of education for human development is clearly explained in the following publication of the Worldbank.

Box : Education and Development

Education is central to development. It empowers people and strengthens nations. It is a powerful “equaliser”, opening doors to all to lift themselves out of poverty. It is critical to the world’s attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Two of the eight MDGs pertain to education—namely, universal primary completion and gender parity in primary and secondary schooling. Moreover, education—especially girls’ education—has a direct and proven impact on the goals related to child and reproductive health and environmental sustainability. Education also promotes economic growth, national productivity and innovation, and values of democracy and social cohesion.

Benefits of Education

Investment in education benefits the individual, society, and the world as a whole. Broad-based education of good quality is among the most powerful instruments known to reduce poverty and inequality. With proven benefits for personal health, it also strengthens nations’ economic health by laying the foundation for sustained economic growth. For individuals and nations, it is key to creating, applying, and spreading knowledge—and thus to the development of dynamic, globally competitive economies. And it is fundamental for the construction of democratic societies.

Benefits to the individual

  • Improves health and nutrition:
    Education greatly benefits personal health. Particularly powerful for girls, it profoundly affects reproductive health, and also improves child mortality and welfare through better nutrition and higher immunization rates. Education may be the single most effective preventive weapon against HIV/AIDS.
  • Increases productivity and earnings:
    Research has established that every year of schooling increases individual wages for both men and women by a worldwide average of about 10 percent. In poor countries, the gains are even greater.
  • Reduces inequality:
    Education is a great “leveler”, illiteracy being one of the strongest predictors of poverty. Primary education plays a catalytic role for those most likely to be poor, including girls, ethnic minorities, orphans, disabled people, and rural families. By enabling larger numbers to share in the growth process, education can be the powerful tide that lifts all boats.

Benefits to society

  • Drives economic competitiveness:
    An educated and skilled workforce is one of the pillars of the knowledge-based economy. Increasingly, comparative advantages among nations come less from natural resources or cheap labor and more from technical innovations and the competitive use of knowledge. Studies also link education to economic growth: education contributes to improved productivity which in theory should lead to higher income and improved economic performance.
  • Has synergistic, poverty-reducing effects:
    Education can vitally contribute to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals. While two of the goals pertain directly to education, education also helps to reduce poverty, promote gender equality, lower child mortality rates, protect against HIV/AIDS, reduce
    fertility rates, and enhance environmental awareness.
  • Contributes to democratisation:
    Countries with higher primary schooling and a smaller gap between rates of boys’ and girls’ schooling tend to enjoy greater democracy. Democratic political institutions (such as power-sharing and clean elections) are more likely to exist in countries with higher literacy rates and education levels.
  • Promotes peace and stability:
    Peace education—spanning issues of human security, equity, justice, and intercultural understanding— is of paramount importance. Education also reduces crime: poor school environments lead to deficient academic performance, absenteeism, and drop out—precursors of delinquent and violent behavior.
  • Promotes concern for the environment:
    Education can enhance natural resource management and national capacity for disaster prevention and adoption of new, environmentally friendly technologies.

Benefits of Girls’ education: a wise investment . . .

Investment in girls’ education yields some of the highest returns of all development investments, yielding both private and social benefits that accrue to individuals, families, and society at large:

  • Reduces women’s fertility rates:
    Women with formal education are much more likely to use reliable family planning methods, delay marriage and childbearing, and have fewer and healthier babies than women with no formal education. It is estimated that one year of female schooling reduces fertility by 10 percent. The effect is particularly pronounced for secondary schooling.
  • Lowers infant and child mortality rates:
    Women with some formal education are more likely to seek medical care, ensure their children are immunized, be better informed about their children's nutritional requirements, and adopt improved sanitation practices. As a result, their infants and children have higher survival rates and tend to be healthier and better nourished.
  • Lowers maternal mortality rates:
    Women with formal education tend to have better knowledge about health care practices, are less likely to become pregnant at a very young age, tend to have fewer, better-spaced pregnancies, and seek pre- and post-natal care. It is estimated that an additional year
    of schooling for 1,000 women helps prevent two maternal deaths.
  • Protects against HIV/AIDS infection:
    Girls’ education ranks among the most powerful tools for reducing girls’ vulnerability. It slows and reduces the spread of HIV/AIDS by contributing to female economic independence, delayed marriage, family planning, and work outside the home as well as greater information about the disease and how to prevent it.
  • Increases women’s labor force participation rates and earnings:
    Education has been proven to increase income for wage earners and increase productivity for employers, yielding benefits for the community and society.
  • Creates intergenerational education benefits: Mothers’ education is a significant variable affecting children’s education attainment and opportunities. A mother with a few years of formal education is considerably more likely to send her children to school. In many countries each additional year of formal education completed by a mother translates into her children remaining in school for an additional one-third to one-half year


The primary school of Lephoi, a township of Bethulie.
Source:Kruchem 2011
( click to enlarge )

Education in the basin states

In 2007 the Worldbank, interested in promoting information and communication technology (ICT) in education worldwide, commissioned surveys concerning the topic in many countries worldwide. These surveys also included short assessments of the education systems of these countries. The profiles for the basin states were written by Shafiqua Isaacs and can also be found on


The Education system

Botswana's education system comprises seven years of primary education, three years of junior secondary education, and two years of senior secondary education. Each year at the primary level is a Standard, and each secondary level is a 'Form'.

Education in Botswana is free, but not compulsory. The Ministry of Education has authority over all of Botswana's educational structure. The structure mirrors that of the United Kingdom: there is universal access to primary and junior secondary school, but a process of academic selection reduces entrance to the senior secondary schools and university. However, educational curricula incorporate pre-vocational preparation in the junior and senior secondary schools.

Primary education is the most important stage in the educational system, and the government strives to make it accessible to everyone. It is the joint responsibility of the Ministry of Education and the local government. One central objective of primary education is for children to be literate first in Setswana and then in English. Other goals are for children to become knowledgeable in mathematics and to have a command of science and social studies. From 1991 to 1997 the number of students completing the primary level and entering junior secondary increased from 65.0% to 98.5%.4

The minimum entry age is six years in public schools and five years in private schools, and the maximum entry age in public schools is 10 years. However, flexibility is often exercised to enable pupils in remote areas to have access to primary education.

Botswana, like all other countries in the world, invests heavily in the provision of secondary education. Currently there are 206 junior community secondary schools and 27 senior schools.

Botswana also has six colleges of education, four of which offer the Diploma in Primary Education while two offer the Diploma in Secondary Education. Botswana also has one university.

The following table provides a quantitative perspective of some selected system indicators.

Table 1: Selected Education Data



Enrolment in primary education

101 (2004)

(% gross)*


Enrolment in secondary

58 (2004)

education (% gross)*


Transition to secondary

88 (2003)

Enrolment to tertiary education (% gross)

6 (2004)

Gender Parity Index (GPI)**

1.01 in primary;


1.14 in secondary;


1.15 at university



*Percent of gross is the number enrolled as a percentage of the number in the eligible age group.

**GPI = gross enrolment ratio (GER) of females, divided by the GER of males and indicates the level of access by females to education compared with males.


The Education system

The Lesotho education system includes integrated early childhood care and development (IECCD) which lasts three years, primary education which lasts seven years, junior secondary which lasts three years, senior secondary which lasts two years, and tertiary which lasts four years. There is also a parallel technical vocational diploma course (senior secondary + or three years TVET). This system operates within a unitary state with 10 administrative districts.

Education Statistics

The table below shows the numbers of institutions at each level. The schools listed are largely those schools that are registered with the Ministry of Education and Training of Lesotho. There are also schools that are not registered with the ministry.

Table 2: Education Institutions in Lesotho, 2005


of schools/centres



Primary schools


Secondary schools


Skills training centres


Technical institutes










For more than a century, the missionaries assumed responsibility for education in Lesotho, including organising the schools, providing the curriculum, paying and professional supporting the teachers, and providing the facilities. Church halls were used as classrooms, and often teaching and learning were conducted in the open air. Even though the Government of Lesotho has been involved in education since the 1920s, sharing responsibility for its provision with the churches, much of the formal education system is still run by missions and is largely administered by the three largest churches - the Roman Catholic Church, the Lesotho Evangelical Church, and the Anglican Church of Lesotho - under the direction of the Ministry of Education.

Primary education is free, but secondary and tertiary education is not. The latter two levels operate on a loan bursary scheme.

Lesotho's adult literacy rate stands at 82.2% (2004).


Lesotho faces severe challenges. Approximately 25% of children do not attend school, particularly in rural areas where families involved in subsistence activities need the help.

of their children to survive. The costs of school attendance, books, uniforms, and educational materials are unaffordable for many families especially those suffering family stress, poverty, the spread of HIV/AIDS, and divorce, all of which has also led to a rise in child homelessness and abandonment, creating growing numbers of street children. Boys are more affected by non-attendance than girls.

Lesotho's educators are also challenged by the lack of financial resources needed to meet the growing demand for well-educated local teachers, the need for literacy, and for vocational and technical training outside the formal academic setting. Attempts are being made to introduce more practical subjects to make education relevant.

HIV/AIDS has exacted a heavy toll on the education system. There are reportedly increasing numbers of orphaned and vulnerable children becoming heads of families, and boarding facilities are required for these school-going children. There has also been an increased demand for teacher supply because of teachers lost through the HIV/AIDs pandemic in addition to other causes of attrition such as retirement or transfers to other sectors.


The Education system

Since gaining independence from South Africa in 1990, Namibia's education system has undergone extraordinary transformation from servicing a privileged few to one involving all learners in integrated classrooms.

Namibia's school education system begins with primary education that lasts for seven years, divided into lower primary (four years) and upper primary (three years). Junior secondary education lasts for three years and leads to the Namibian Junior Secondary Certificate. Admission to senior secondary education is based on the six best subjects in the Junior Secondary Certificate. Senior secondary education lasts for two years and leads to the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) which gives access to higher education. Vocational training centres (VTCs) offer technical subjects at the junior secondary level with options in bricklaying and plastering, electricity, motor mechanics, metalwork, welding, and woodwork.

Higher education is mainly provided by the University of Namibia, the Polytechnic of Namibia, colleges of education, and colleges of agriculture.

Education Statistics

Namibia has about 19,000 teachers educating around 550,000 children in 1,550 schools. There are seven VTCs, four colleges of education, three agricultural training colleges, and one police training college. In addition, the Namibian College of Open Learning and private colleges like Damelin and the Higher Education Institute offer a variety of programmes in collaboration with other institutions.

Table 3 provides a quantitative perspective of some selected system indicators.

Table 3: Selected Education Data



Enrolment in primary education (% gross)*

101 (2004)

Enrolment in secondary education (% gross)*

58 (2004)

Transition to secondary

88 (2003)

Enrolment to tertiary education (% gross)*

6 (2004)

Gender Parity Index (GPI)**

1.01 in primary; 1.14 in secondary; 1.15 at university (2004)

Adult literacy male:__87% (2000-2004)

Adult literacy female: 83% (2000-2004)

*Percent of gross is the number enrolled as a percentage of the number in the eligible age group. **GPI = gross enrolment ratio (GER) of females, divided by the GER of males and indicates the level of access by females to education compared to males. Namibia demonstrates gender parity at primary secondary and university levels.

A recent World Bank report on Namibia's education found that it was not meeting the needs of the country's economy and was "ineffective." It also found that Namibia's lack of early childhood development resulted in 80% of children entering Grade 1 without the required level of learning readiness, while 60% of primary school teachers and 30% of secondary school teachers were unqualified. Of those teachers who are qualified, a large proportion lack essential competencies, such as mastery of their teaching subjects, good English proficiency, reading skills, curriculum interpretation, and setting student tests.

The World Bank study also found that curricula were overloaded with too many subjects that lacked clear standards, there was a shortage of schoolbooks, and 21% of all schools had no permanent classrooms. As well, just a third of children enrolled in Grade 1 eventually completed senior secondary school (Grade 12).

South Africa

The Education System

South Africa's National Qualifications Framework (NQF) recognises three broad bands of education:

• General education and training (GET), which runs from Grades 0 to 9 and includes adult basic education and training.

• Further education and training (FET), which takes place from Grades 10 to 12, and also includes career-oriented education and training offered in other FET institutions such as technical colleges, community colleges, and private colleges.

• Higher education and training (HET), which includes education for undergraduate and post-graduate degrees, certificates, and diplomas, up to the level of the doctoral degree.

Since 1994, South Africa established a single national system of education which is managed by the National Department of Education (NDOE) with the support of nine Provincial Departments of Education (PDOE). The NDOE assumes national responsibility for higher education, while administrative responsibility for the schools sector lies with the PDOEs based on the national framework for school policy. A Council of Education Ministers, consisting of the Minister of Education, the Deputy Minister of Education, and the nine provincial members of the Executive Council for Education, meets regularly to discuss national education policy, and co-ordinate action. In addition a Heads of Education Departments Committee (Hedcom) consists of the Director-General, Deputy Directors-General of the NDOE, and the heads of PDOEs. The functions of Hedcom include facilitating the development of the national education system, sharing information and views on national education, co-ordinating administrative action on matters of mutual interest, and advising the NDOE on a range of matters.

Education Statistics

South Africa has 12.3 million learners, an estimated 386,600 teachers and 26,292 schools, including 1,098 registered independent or private schools. Of all schools, roughly 6,000 are high schools (Grade 7 to 12) and the rest primary (Grades 0 to 6). There are more than a million students enrolled in the country's 24 state-funded tertiary institutions: 11 universities, five universities of technology, and six comprehensive institutions. These have recently been integrated, with the country's former 36 universities and "technikons" being amalgamated into larger tertiary institutions. Higher education is also offered at hundreds of private institutions, which are registered with the NDOE to confer specific degrees and diplomas.

South Africa's gross enrollment ratio (GER) in 2004 stood at 98%. The gender parity index (GER of females divided by the GER for males), used to indicate the level of access by females to education compared to males, was 1.01 in 2004, suggesting that there is gender parity in the country.

Spending and Challenges

Education was allocated the largest share of the national budget in 2007/08 to the tune of R105.5 billion (estimated USD$15 billion). Much of this budget is allocated to teacher salaries, teacher support staff and assistants as well as bursaries to encourage young people to train as teachers.

South Africa's education system still faces severe challenges in combating the legacy of apartheid:

  • Illiteracy rates remain as high as 24% of adults over 15 years of age.
  • There remains a shortage of qualified teachers; one-third of teachers teaching mathematics and science were not qualified. Of 50 countries studied in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMMS), 2003, South African Grade 8s featured at the bottom of the scale in mathematics and science. However, Grade 12 pass rates and performance in math and science are showing slow signs of improvement.
  • The majority of schools remain under-resourced, under-supplied, and over-crowded.

In contrast to these bleak statistics, South Africa also boasts some independent schools that rank among the best in the world.

Education is a primary driver for economic and social development.
Source:Vignet 2011
( click to enlarge )



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