Only 2 Primary Schools In Botswana Have ICT Labs, According To World Bank Report

According to the World Bank's recently released "Digital Economy Diagonistic Botswana" report, out of 758 primary schools in the country, only 2 have fully dedicated and functional ICT laboratories. Additionally, only 68 of 758 primary schools have IT officers assigned to them.

The situation is much better in secondary with 100% of them having fully functional ICT labs. The report further states that all secondary schools have IT officers (around 1 per school) who serve as the first point of contact on ICT technical issues for the school. 

However, despite much progress made in ICT infrastructure development, there seems to be  indications that even schools with ICT laboratories or internet access are likely to underutilize ICT in classrooms. This is because of the low demand and uptake of ICT courses by students. 

According to the 2019 Botswana Examinations Council Report on the General Certificate of Secondary Education, a substantial proportion of students (around 40 percent) have elected science and/or mathematic as an exam subject, while few students (less than 5 percent) elected computer science as an exam subject. 

Because of this, the World Bank report states that a significant proportion of children and youth are likely to lack the range of digital skills required to flourish in an increasingly digitalized society. Limited internet connectivity in primary schools, the narrow scope of curriculum associated with digital skills, and poor learning progressions for many students are factors that add to this picture.

Initiatives like eThuto, which was launched in 2014 and was mandated to provide high speed internet to 100 primary schools (out of a total of over 800) and almost all junior and senior secondary schools, as well as 13 colleges and 40 brigades, integrate e-learning into the curriculum in schools, integrate ICT in teaching and learning and train teachers in the integration of ICT in teaching and learning, amongst others, have not done enough.

Additionally, it is likely that many primary and secondary schools which are not part of the e-Thuto initiative will be unable to deliver sufficient digital skills programming, leading to a gap in skills and opportunities in highly digitized future.

A report by the Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) titled Priority Skills and Employment Trends in Botswana suggests that the demand for digital skills in the workforce is likely to dramatically increase in the next 10 years, far beyond the current number of new entrants to the labor market with an ICT background. Shortages in a digitally competent workforce are likely to be pronounced in sectors such as finance, engineering, life sciences, construction and teaching.

This, according to the World Bank report, shows urgency for Botswana to strengthen its human capital base by improving the digital capabilities of children, youth and adults in order to reap the benefits of digitization, strengthen local business and the economy, and navigate an increasingly globalized world. Enhanced digital capabilities of youth and adults can in turn offer an enormous impact on digital government, business and financial services, getting the country close to its "knowledge-based economy" ambitions.


Table source: "Digital Economy Diagonistic Botswana" report

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