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This openness and flexibility allows communities to actively participate in curriculum development, an aspect which not only ensures that the programme content is relevant to their daily lives and is culturally sensitive but also fosters greater motivation in learning and promotes social empowerment.The ABEP curriculum has three basic learning levels) which, as noted above, are equivalent to seven years of education in the formal primary school system.In addition, the NLP also aimed to create a cohort of educated people with skills to meet the demands of a developing, rapidly changing society and economy as well as to empower previously disadvantaged and marginalised communities in order to enable them to be self-reliant and to improve their standard of life.In order to achieve these fundamental goals, the Department of Non-Formal Education (DNFE) – the government institution which was charged with the responsibility of developing and implementing non-formal educational projects in the country – adopted an integrated and comprehensive approach to the implementation of the NLP.Noteworthy, the programme increased access to basic education for out-of-school groups and, as a result, the total youth and adult literacy rates rose from 83.3% and 68% in 1990 to 94% and 83%, respectively, as of 2003-2008.

Special focus is also placed on ethnic minorities and people with special learning needs as well as on disadvantaged and often marginalised rural communities.For some communities, the medium of instruction was also a disincentive which limited their access to the NLP.In addition, NLP trainers, mostly volunteers, were ill-trained and endured poor working conditions.It was primarily intended to compliment the formal school system by promoting access to education for out-of-school groups and, in particular, by enabling “250 000 presently illiterate men, women and youth to become literate in Setswana and numerate in six years, 1980-85” (Ministry of Education, 1979, cited in Hanemann, 2005).Implicitly therefore, the NLP endeavoured to eradicate historical socio-economic inequalities and high adult illiteracy rates which had been engendered by a colonial education system that had only been accessible to a privileged few.

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