One of the aims of Education of Botswana, which resulted from the report of the National Commission on Education 1977, was to improve primary education as the foundation of other levels of education. As one of the strategies to meet this goal, the Department of Primary Education (DPE) was established in 1981. The establishment of the Department was one of the collaborative efforts between the government of Botswana and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to improve primary education. The USAID project, which was responsible for this goal, was called the Primary Education Improvement Project (PEIP). The project ran from 1981 to 1991.
The Department ran two in-service programs: a one year Diploma and a four-year Bachelor of Education degree in Primary Education. The first intake for both programs was in August 1982. The first Diploma group graduated in October 1983 while the last graduated in October 2000. About 231 students graduated from the Diploma program. The first B.Ed group graduated in October 1985. Till October 2007, more than 1000 students have graduated from B. ED (Primary) programme.
The Department of Primary Education reviewed its Diploma and Degree programs in April 1995 with an eight member Ad-hoc Committee. The Committee had representation from the DPE, Colleges of Education, Teacher Training and Development and Teaching Service Management in the Ministry of Education. The review was necessitated by the following factors:
1. During NDP 7 the Ministry of Education decided that Primary Teacher Training Colleges upgrade the Certificate program they had been offering to a Diploma. This meant that both DPE and Colleges were to prepare Diploma graduates for primary schools, a role the DPE had been monopolising.
2. The Revised National Policy on Education of 1994 had future implications for both the Diploma and Degree programs. For instance, DPE B.Ed graduates could no longer be deployed to Colleges, not only because the Colleges were fully staffed but also because the minimum requirements for a College Lecturer were changed to a Master's degree. This meant that while DPE has been training teacher trainers, its main focus should now be to train classroom teachers and educational managers in the primary education sector.
3. The third factor is that the Ministry of Education presented a specific request to the Department to address its special needs in the primary education sector. The request reads as follows:
- The programs should change their orientation to include specializations in the identified areas of need, namely: Remedial Teaching, Special Education, Infant Education Methods, Guidance and Counselling, Teacher Advising and Practical Subjects.
- The programs should establish priorities to strengthen instruction in the areas of Mathematics, Science and English.
- The Current system of admission into the programmes through the Mature Age Entry Scheme to be reviewed to accommodate the academic requirements for Diploma level training in Primary Teacher Training institutions which is at least a minimum of 3 O’ Level subjects (MOE letter dated 21 June, 1994).
Revision of B. Ed Primary Programme
The current programme was revised and introduced during the academic year 1999/2000 to produce graduates who can contribute, more meaningfully, in the development of primary education as a foundation of education. The review of the program then was a response to the professional and personal needs of the students of primary education. The revision was done to:
- Make the program more relevant to the world of practice rather than being too abstract.
- Accommodate changes taking place in the schools and primary education field in general.
- Update in-service teachers with modern teaching skills so that they can fit in the demands of vision 2016.
As the University of Botswana moved into semesterisation or development of an academic structure characterised by semester courses, the department of Primary Education had yet another opportunity to review its programme to be in accordance with the new university Mission/ Vision/Values statement which envisages the University to "be a leading academic centre of excellence in Africa and the world".
Background of B.Ed Educational Management Program
The DPE is one of the Faculty of Education departments with emphasis on providing in-service to the primary school teachers and administrators. Its inception was a result of one of the recommendations of the 1977 Commission of Education, which was to improve primary education as the foundation of other levels of education.
The department has been providing human resources for the Primary Teachers Training Colleges as well as the education office cadre. This aim has been fully fulfilled by the department. With the upgrading of the Primary Teachers Training Colleges into Colleges of Education offering a diploma in Primary Education, the direct deployment of the B.Ed graduate to the colleges had to be affected. Currently, the B.Ed graduates are deployed to the primary schools and go to colleges as Staff Development Fellows.
The posting of B.Ed Primary holders to primary schools is still a commendable move because the primary schools need a calibre of teachers, which is able to fully understand the child and therefore apply appropriate strategies of both teaching and general handling.
During the approval process of the B Ed Educational Management program, it was advised that the program needs to be developed such that it accommodates other areas of education besides primary. In other words, instead of confining the program to the in-service of primary school managers, it be opened up to accommodate other education sectors such as secondary school managers, police, BDF & Prison’s institution managers, and vocational institutions etc, as long as they meet the entrance requirements..
The program was therefore so adjusted and since its inception in August 2002, the programme has attracted clients from various education sectors such as secondary and primary departments, police, vocational colleges, and general educational administrators from various sectors. Candidates for the program are both from within and outside the country. More than 70 students have already graduated by October 2007.
The DPE feels highly indebted to the community and the Botswana education system in particular. To this effect, by developing the B.Ed Educational Management Program in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Skills Development (MoE&SD), DPE is responding to an important need at school and for other education institutions for improving the educational management.