Expat families with children will have to explore the education options in Botswana. To choose the right school, parents will likely consider their budget and the cost of living, the language of instruction and curriculum, as well as the academic culture.
While public schooling is available, these schools often lack resources, and the standard of education varies considerably. Most expat parents opt for private and international schools.
The primary language of instruction for many private schools in Botswana is English, although there might be dedicated Setswana classes. These schools are known as English-medium schools.
Botswana also offers higher education opportunities at several universities and technical colleges. Nursing and teaching vocational courses after secondary school are also available.
Public schools in Botswana
The education system in Botswana has improved as the economy has grown. Botswana’s Ministry of Basic Education manages the public schooling system.
There are seven years of primary, three years of junior secondary and two years of senior secondary education. The senior secondary level offers both vocational and academic streams.
In primary school, each year is referred to as a 'standard', while in secondary school, it is known as a 'form'.
Expats can enrol their children in local schools, but many public schools outside of the main cities lack resources and are underfunded and understaffed. Most expats, therefore, choose to send their children to an international school.
Private and international schools in Botswana
International schools in Botswana are of a high standard and follow a curriculum model from a foreign country. Parents often choose a school that follows their home country's curriculum, as this could ease their children’s transition into life in Botswana.
Most of the country's international schools are based in the capital and other large cities and towns.
Many offer the UK’s curriculum with IGCSEs and A-Levels or International Baccalaureate curriculum. Some schools incorporate the national curriculum alongside an international curriculum.
Botswana’s international schools are typically well resourced and staffed with qualified and experienced teachers. Children here will benefit from access to high standards of learning, smaller class sizes, first-rate facilities and a wide range of extracurricular activities.
The catch is the high cost of tuition. Expats working in Botswana may be able to negotiate an allowance for their children’s school fees. Some private schools may offer discounts for the attendance of second and third children from the same family.
Given the high demand for international schools, space is often limited. We recommend that expat parents research the schools available and their admissions procedures.
Nurseries in Botswana
Preschool is not compulsory in the country, but many options are available. Parents can find private childcare and daycare centres easily if they live in Gaborone or other large towns and cities. When selecting a nursery, expats may focus their search in areas and suburbs close to their accommodation.
Many nurseries are independent, some are faith-based or follow a Montessori approach. Several international schools offer a crèche and preschool, as well as primary and high school education.
Special-needs education in Botswana
Unfortunately, special needs education is limited in Botswana. While the need for integrated classes is recognised, few schools afford the resources and staff to support this, particularly in public schooling. Traditional schools that cannot offer comprehensive support may be reluctant to admit students with behavioural, learning or physical disabilities or challenges.
But given pushes for inclusivity, this could slowly change in the future. International schools are more likely to offer learning-support programmes to a diversity of learning needs. It's best to contact the schools directly to find out what support services are available.
Homeschooling in Botswana
While education is compulsory from ages six to 16, homeschooling is legal in Botswana. Expat families who find traditional schooling unsuitable or too expensive can look into homeschool resources available online.
The homeschooling community in Botswana is supportive. New arrivals can easily find other homeschooling families on popular social media platforms, who will be happy to provide advice.
Tutors in Botswana
As education is highly valued, it's easy to find a tutor in Botswana. Whether students don't want to feel left behind academically or they want extra support close to exam time, private tutors specialised in certain subject areas can help prepare and support children. Tutors also offer extra-curricular activities, from piano and guitar to dance and horse riding.
One of the best ways to find a tutor is to check online resources. Networking and asking other families can also be good options. A number of private tutoring companies can also be found.