Early Education Context

Surrounded by South Africa, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, the republic of Botswana is a landlocked country in the South of Africa with approximately 2,004,000 inhabitants. Its area stretches over 581,730 km2, of which 2.6 % is water. Botswana’s GDP per capita, which saw an annual increase of 3 % over the last 12 years, is US$ 8,795 (2012). The republic of Botswana is classed as an upper-middle income country with a prevalence of HIV&AIDS that is still very high: 23.4 % is the rate for people aged 15-49 years, which is 18% above the Sub-Sharan average (5.4 %). This high HIV/AIDS rate has an adverse impact on the development of the education sector in the country. It affects not only pupils, but also teachers, who show a higher number of days on which they are absent. Botswana ranks 119th out of 187 according to the Human Development Index

In Botswana, the official age for pre-primary school is 3 to 5 years, and for primary school, it is 6 to 12 years. In 2014, pre-primary population was 153,089 and primary population 323,361. When looking at the development of the education sector over the last years, one can see an increase in out-of-school children between 2012 (21,786) and 2014 (33,883). Furthermore, enrolment rates for pre-primary education do not look promising: In 2014, the net enrolment rate was 18.3 %. Gross enrolment ratio for male pupils was 19.73 % in the same year, and for female pupils it was 20.44 %. With regard to teachers, the percentage of both trained and qualified teachers in pre-primary education was only 55 % in 2013. Furthermore, in that same year, the ratio of pupils to trained teachers in pre-primary education was 21:1.

In addition to the statements and difficulties mentioned above, Botswana faces another challenge, which is probably the biggest in the country: Botswana is divided into various ethnic tribes that have diverse cultures and speak different languages. There exist about 40 different tribes, of which only eight are recognized by the state. With regard to languages, Setswana, the language spoken by Tswana people, and English are the sole official languages. Other native languages such as Sekgalagadi, Herero, Naro, or Kaukau that have no similarities with Setswana, are not recognized by the government. This means that in schools only English and Setswana are spoken. The problem becomes obvious: children who grew up in a community speaking a minority language enter a school where teachers speak a language that is completely unknown to them. How should they be able to learn anything when they do not even understand their teacher? This is exactly where the initiative of the Roger Federer Foundation starts.