Botswana’s San communities and the challenge of accessing basic education: the need for a paradigm shift
Botswana has several ethnic tribes, both Tswana - speaking and non-Tswana speaking. The non-Tswana speaking groups include the San who are indigenous to the country and also constitute a political, economic and social minority. Children of the San have been known to be not too enthusiastic about formal education. Over the years, the Government of Botswana has attempted to promote basic education among the San, but with limited success. Despite Government efforts to attract the San to embrace formal education, little progress has been made so far. San children continue to drop out of school in large numbers. This paper is informed by a study that was undertaken to establish the attitudes of the San towards formal education. The paper argues that the lack of enthusiasm for formal education on the part of the San should not be confused for a lack of interest in, or ignorance of, the benefits of formal education. The high drop-out rates among San children should be blamed on the unresponsive nature of the country’s education curriculum. The current national education curriculum has not been sufficiently sensitive to the culture and the unique way of life of the San communities in Botswana. As such, the San tend to view education as a remote and artificial enterprise that frustrates their efforts and hopes. The author proposes the two-way schooling curriculum as an alternative strategy that would ensure the San retain not only interest but the necessary confidence in formal education system.
KEYWORDS: San, Botswana, two-way model, curriculum, formal education, culture