We are literate here, Botswana tells Zambia

Botswana’s Assistant Minister of Education and Skills Development, Mr Keletso Rakhudu says Botswanas literacy rate was marked by a significant growth since independence.

Mr Rakhudu told the delegates of the Zambian Parliamentary Committee on Education, Science and Technology on Tuesday that Botswana has now surpassed over 80 per cent mark in literacy rate.

The Zambians were on a two-day official visit to Botswana.

They paid a courtesy call on the assistant minister on Tuesday morning.

Led by the committee chairperson, Mr Douglas Syakalima, the delegation was in Botswana to benchmark on the countrys approach to matters of literacy particularly on the status of adult literacy.

Mr Rakhudu said Botswana faced acute levels of illiteracy at independence with basic education the biggest challenge, something which forced the government to invest immensely in the development of the education system.

At independence we were lagging behind other countries in the region in terms of literacy. From having the lowest literacy rate in the region we now have a literacy rate of more than 80 per cent, said the assistant minister stating that literacy rate was higher in urban areas than in rural places.

The challenge is to device strategies of reaching out more to the rural area dwellers as well, he stated.

He said the current achievement was realised despite the country having had to build its education system almost from scratch after independence.

The assistant minister said because the government wanted wholesome literacy, the education ministry had to introduce the adult basic education programme to cater for illiterate adults.

He however said despite the obvious success, the biggest challenge faced by his ministry had been synchronising formal education with the adult basic education programme and out of school youth education to ensure that the out of school youth proceed with their learning.

Mr Rakhudu said Botswana has between 11 and 15 per cent cases of missing children- those that were never enrolled to school or who dropped out at an early stage.

They constitute out of school youth and they should be catered for, he stated.

Despite the obvious success the assistant minister said budgetary challenges, lack of infrastructure and shortage of human resources continue to hamper the roll out of the out of school youth education programme.

For his part, Mr Syakalima said they came to observe the role played by the government in the area of adult literacy and will go and report back to their Parliament and take a leaf from the best practices.

Each time we have an opportunity we go out and see what other countries are doing about the matter. Everybody wants literate people within their nation, he said.

The delegation also visited the Department of Out of School Youth, the Madirelo Testing and Training Centre and the Rural Industries Promotions Company (RIPCO) in Kanye.

They also paid a courtesy call on the Speaker of the National Assembly, Ms Margaret Nasha. BOPA

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