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The field of education has always been a constant focus of intense debates and discussions due to the important role it plays in the development of the society. The primary and secondary education phase of any individual is the fundamental personality and character building part of his/her life. Different authors have given various concepts regarding the education of the students and the traditional theory emphasizes the performance of students measured in terms of verbally-loaded skills. Expanded views of intelligence have come to the fore in recent years, for example in the work of Gardner and others on the concept of "multiple intelligences". In conjunction with this development, there has also been considerable focus in the literature on notions of self-esteem and self-efficacy, and the role they play in learning and development. The students need to be provided a chance to build up confidence and belief in doing any task that is provided to them (Gardner, 1993).
Educational Technology supports the various techniques of teaching and learning and it is argued that helps the educators to achieve cognitive and behavioral goals in ways that they were not previously feasible. (Teach-nology, 2009).
A Brief Overview
Botswana's government has done considerably well in promoting internet usage in the country but gaps still exists that need to be looked into.
Internet usage in Botswana is low as five percent of the population. Also there is a considerable disparity in terms of urban and rural access to Information Communication Technology (ICT) services. Other challenges include the relatively high cost of Personal Computers (PCs), the lack of electricity in many rural locations, and high charges for Internet usage. With the increasing sophistication of Botswana's economy there is a greater need than ever to have timely and accurate data to facilitate decision-making (Technology- An increasing sophistication, Botswana, 2009).
Moreover, Botswana's ICT sector itself is small and generally focused on local market opportunities. The government needs to liberalize and enhance regulation of the communications industry to attract investment as well as encourage innovation and competition (Shafika Isaacs, April 2007). While education expenditure is high at ten percent of GDP and significant educational achievements have been attained, including the provision of nearly universal and free education, overall outcomes have not created the skills and workforce Botswana needs (World Bank Country Brief, Botswana, 2009).
In Botswana disparities exist in terms of reading ability across regions. In terms of reading ability Botswana's regions have been classified into three groups based upon average reading score established by SACMEQ II. These groups are the regions that are performing:
- At average reading score
- At slightly above average reading score
- At above average reading score
An average pupil in Botswana has difficulties with the reading tasks that are more complex. These complex tasks are those such as (Toziba Badiki Masalila, 2008):
- reading on and back through long texts
- merging information from various different parts of the text
- making judgments about the author's purpose or rationale beyond text substance
- analyzing detailed text for underlying message inclusion of information from different parts of the text in order to conclude writer's thought, assumptions, individual beliefs
The different categories in which the gaps identified in the current situation in Botswana are detailed as below.
- Students' Behavioral Gaps
- Teachers' Behavioral Gaps
- Capability Gaps
- Training Gaps
- Infrastructure Gaps
- Communication Gaps
- Other gaps like Cultural, Government policies in Education and political stability
- A detailed discussion on these gaps is given below.
Students' Behavioral Gaps
According to a study conducted on standard 6 students by Margaret Keitheile and Masego Mokubung (2005), gender based disparities exist in students' access to schooling. The rate of absenteeism is high in most of the regions in Botswana such as in the Western region. The main reasons cited for student absenteeism include illness, fees and work. Education in Botswana is free, but students have to contribute towards payment of cooks for feeding programmes in schools.
The repetition rates among students in Botswana are also very high. Around thirty one percent of students were found to have repeated a standard at least once, in the study conducted by Margaret Keitheile and Masego Mokubung in 2005. Moreover, the condition of the students' home and their accessibility to books is low. An average student in Botswana came from homes with no lightning facilities available.
The level of parent education was observed to be low and this affects the students' participation in schools. Moreover, this also leads to fewer students receiving assistance at their homes with their school work. Their study recommended more flexible schooling arrangements for students such that students can have a chance to retain their "traditional ways of life". The low participation of parents can be enhanced by their constant interaction of parents with teachers. This also requires flexibility in these interactions so that parents can interact as per their suitability of time and availability.
Teachers' Behavioral Gaps
The most common teacher behavioral problems were health, arriving late at school, and absenteeism. There is also need to pay particular attention to boys, to pupils from lower socio-economic backgrounds, and to those pupils from isolated/rural areas and small towns. As was the case with literacy, regional disparities in numeracy were fairly large.
According to the study conducted by Margaret Keitheile and Masego Mokubung (2005), the gender distribution of teachers also varied across the regions. The female teachers in West region constitute thirty-seven percent of the total head count while Gaborone had this percent as high as eighty-four percent. Their study recommended ensuring that no factors discouraged male teachers to participate in the education system.
Education level of the teachers was also cited as another major gap in education system. According to their study, (Mokubung, & Keitheile, 2005), a little less than half of the teachers of standard 6 students had junior secondary education as their highest qualification. Another one third had a senior secondary certification. The average time spent by teachers on training was not satisfactory.
Moreover, the teacher's experience level also had wide regional disparity where in some areas, the average experience level fell to almost half of the average. Hence, good experienced teachers were not involved in the education system of Botswana. Their study recommended provisions for under qualified teachers to upgrade their qualification over time. Also it was recommended in the study to maintain and utilize a database for teacher's qualifications and managing the disparity in qualifications.
In service training programmes were felt to be more effective in case they address relevant needs of flexibility and availability. Benchmarking in-service training also was felt to be effective to guide the in-service educators regarding the expectations and delivery targets (Mokubung, & Keitheile, 2005).
The approach of teachers towards regular parent teacher meetings was observed to be not so encouraging. Few teachers who taught the students actually met the parents of those students. Moreover, only a quarter of the teachers were observed to ask the parents to sign the students' homework. The study observed that assessment process needs to be enhanced and teachers' knowledge and skills for this process also needs to be improved. A continuous assessment process was also felt to be incorporated.
The average living conditions of the teachers were observed to be poor so that it distracted them to from their teaching work. Their study recommended ensuring acceptable living conditions for the teachers and flexible teaching provisions in the schools.
Considering the characteristics of the school heads, the study conducted by Margaret Keitheile and Masego Mokubung (2005), observed that about three quarters of the school heads had primary school education or junior secondary school education as their highest qualification. The average experience level of school heads was observed to include around 2.4 years of professional training.
This also included six weeks of training in management. The study recommended specialized training for the school heads in Botswana in administrative and management skills. It was observed that the school teacher does not have a means to communicate among themselves to discuss with their peers about their different problems and issues and build a constructive environment. It was observed that school heads could not generally arrange for libraries as only thirty percent of the schools had libraries. This was greatly affecting the students' performance also. As concluded in an earlier research, targeted professional development programs need to be developed and implemented to increase teachers' knowledge and skills in reading literacy (Nguyen, Wu & Gillis, 2005). Moreover, it was recommended that measures such as extra tutorials in English should be provided to help pupils who do not speak English outside school. Teachers' qualifications in this area should also be surveyed to identify the teaching needs in the learning area of English as a second language.
Another observation in Botswana schools was that too many official school days were lost in some regions leading to the loss of valuable learning time of students. The school inspectors also did not have specified guidelines for school visits.
It has been observed that in Botswana, there is no equality in the provision of primary school mathematics across schools located in the remote rural areas, small towns, and large cities. Whereas the schools located in the remote rural areas were found to be the most disadvantaged, those from large cities were found to be the most advantaged (Polaki & Khoeli, 2005).
The pupil-teacher ratio available in the current scenario is also quite high. This should be reduced and especially in case of large schools in urban areas (Nguyen, Wu & Gillis, 2005).
Among diverse ground-breaking methods in the field of education technology, distance education methods gained importance for the obvious reasons of flexibility, economized mode, learner friendly, adults' favourite. Technology based distance education will yield more benefits to the learner who can access it at their own pace, time and geographical location. In order to provide open access higher education to all, especially to those disadvantaged groups who could not join the formal system of education due to inbuilt constraints of the formal/conventional system (Kuruba, 2006).
Proper nutrition for students is another problem in Botswana. Moreover, effective measures should be implemented to provide extra meals for pupils from low family socio-economic status (Nguyen, Wu & Gillis, 2005).
There are few reasons as given below which contribute towards the people not able to pursue higher education in Botswana -
Lack of multiple locations of Universities in Botswana, which results in the inability of the University to handle the demand pressures from students who are finishing their school education
Reluctance from the employers in releasing their employees, who want to go for further education along with their regular job
Lack of option of studying from home or long distance learning is not available in the University of Botswana (Mutula, 2002).
Going by the Africa, ICT Indicators for the year 2007, the infrastructure facilities available in African continent in the year 2007 are as tabulated below. Thus, we see that Botswana has many infrastructural gaps when compared to few of the African countries as well.
AFRICA ICT Indicators, 2007
Main telephone lines
Central African Rep.
S. Tomé & Principe
The use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and the technological developments in distance teaching-learning strategies have challenges due to the socio-cultural scenarios. These challenges are in terms of different learning styles of the students, level of interactivity to be obtained, maintaining mutual respect among educators, consciousness towards authority, hesitation to open up, fear of communication and gender sensitivity. These all can be grouped under the multicultural context. The factors contributing to these include local cultures of the participants, beliefs in different regions, socioeconomic levels of educators and students, traditional beliefs, religion being followed, psychological barriers and modernity in terms of development of a place (Kumar, K. & Bhattacharya, M., 2007).
As observed in a survey on ICT throughout Africa, it has been seen that "many countries and donor agencies are struggling to keep track of ICT/education projects development projects over which they have no control and about which they often little knowledge so that the lessons learned from these projects -- let alone their existence -- can inform strategy and planning related to ICT use in education going forward." (Survey of ICT Education in Africa Report, 2009) To add to this, this report also points out that "Much relevant data collection has already occurred, but the results are scattered across a number of publications and databases (many of which are not widely known), held within individual organizations, not easily accessible to the education community, and/or, where public, not widely disseminated."
The UNESCO report aimed at measuring the Information and communication technology (ICT) implementation in Education highlights the gaps in effective measurement of the performance indicators (UNESCO, 2009). This report attempts to put in place standard concepts and practices in place to measure the success of ICT implementations. The report states the operational and methodological caveats in determining the success measures of ICT implementations. As the domain of ICT refines over time, a clear understanding of the implementations will bring more clarity to the success measures.
The UNESCO report also states the lack of quality and reliable data as well as the standardized guidelines to establish the comparable and relevant indicators. The report recognizes the measurement lacunae as one of the primary reasons that hinder the policymakers in making knowledge based decisions. Another fallout of this gap is the inability to show or prove the commitment of policymakers in making ICT an integral part of the education systems (UNESCO, 2009).
Other gaps like Cultural, Government policies in Education and political stability
There are few gaps categorized in the other category, as these gaps are not uniformly visible. The cultural issues are different as the values in society changes over Geographies and culture. Similarly, the political stability and the commitment of the Government of the land towards lifting the educational standards in society make a difference.
The traditional education has its own associated challenges amplified by the fast-paced changes in the skills demanded in today's labor market. As the new paradigms are developing across the globe where students are, focusing more on learning than education, the delivery of education also need to change accordingly. There is major difference in imparting education. From the traditional localized and confined physical space to a flexible cross-border and globalize classrooms - Imparting education has come a long way in a short time. Thus, Teachers and students need to be more as the curriculum is no longer constrained by any certification goals or strict schooling roadmap (UNESCO, 2009).
Having had a glance over some of the gaps existing in the educational technology in Botswana, it appears the gaps identified can be categorized as follows:
Infrastructure and Capacity Gaps
Trained resources gaps
Students' behavioral gaps
Teachers' behavioral gaps
Stability of Government and it's commitment to Education
Changing face of Educational process
This thesis will delve deeper into these issues through a search of current literature and data base sources from secondary resources and recommendations will be made accordingly.