Tswanification of the curriculum

Soon after independence it was realized that the educational system did not meet the needs of the nation. It was highly focused on academics and still had colonial hangovers. Many of the things taught were not relevant to the African context, thus the school drop-out rates were high. It was soon realized that change was needed. In 1977 a commission appointed by the government of Botswana published a report on educational reform: 'education for kagisano' (meaning 'education for social harmony'). As advised in the report, new core subjects were introduced into schools, making the education more relevant for the Batswana. The education aimed to be more vocational in order to prepare students for the job market.

Ever since the report was established, the languages of instruction used in government schools are English (the official language in Botswana) and Setswana (the national language in Botswana). This was seen as reasonable since around 80% of the population speaks Setswana as their mother-tongue. Other tribal affiliations with different linguistic backgrounds were assumed to soon die out as they would accept Setswana as their national language. However, the tswanification of the curriculum is still a sensitive issue to the non-Setswana speaking minority tribes. The children do not understand the instruction in schools as it is not given in their respective mother-tongues. Teachers are mostly from the major tribes and do not speak the local languages of areas they teach at. Teacher training does not prepare them for teaching in a different linguistic setting, nor does the curriculum cater for this.

Due to the Tswanification of the curriculum, not only do children of minority tribes not understand what is being taught, but also feel that their culture is not being valued. The Setswana culture is being imposed onto them, not only in terms of language, but also in terms of values and tradition. For example, in Tswana-culture it is the order of the day to beat children as a form of disciplining them, this is a normal daily practice at schools as well as at home. Some minority tribes, however, do not apply corporal punishment at home. When the children go to school they will experience beating which they are not used to and thus they will be scared away. They will feel disrespected and misunderstood.

As a result of the above described situation, school drop-outs rates are very high in the remote areas where minority tribes reside.