Komorebi Post: The educational system in Botswana was developed to produce critical thinkers, problem solvers, and innovative learners according to Tabulawa (2009). Despite current problems regarding drop out of school rates, failing the national examinations, or are unemployable graduates. There has been a tremendous transformation with the introduction of the Fourth Industrial Revolution which has descended upon the entire learning system. The use of artificial intelligence, computer usage, not only in secondary schools and tertiary level but also in primary schools has taken over and intends to ramp up the level of education countrywide.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is built on digital revolution (3rd Revolution) and is all about cognitive power or Artificial Intelligence. It combines multiple technologies into smart and connected machines and systems (fusion), and transforms entire systems, across (and within) countries, companies, industries and society.
According to the Education and Training Sector Strategic Plan (ETSSP 2015-2020), one of the key priorities for the Ministry of Education and Skills Development (MoESD) is to continue to review and finalise a curriculum framework that takes full account of global trends in education where learning is more focused on learning outcomes and developing skills.
“This reality comes into perspective as we consider the challenges of the 21st century and the knowledge and skills that we (educationists/school leadership) have had to conquer to cope in the world of technology. Therefore as we think more of advanced creativity, innovation, ingenuity, higher order and critical thinking to solve complex and abstract problems, we should also think of how to get along with one another and become civically engaged in the era of Artificial Intelligence (AI),” says Margaret Thabeng, a school teacher.
As compared to the past ten years, the education system has developed and introduced multiple pathways in secondary schools. Multiple pathways are where each child or student is going to study what they are capable of doing practically.
Reduction of number of subjects to five
At the Botswana primary schools there is reduction of school subjects. The pupils are now doing five subjects in place of the nine subjects they have been doing in the past. One of the five subjects must be a practical subject i.e. agriculture, art. The four subjects must always include mathematics, languages and science.
According to Margaret Thabeng, the interest in practical subject is determined by what the child shows interest in. Practical subjects will depend on the development of the cross and fine motor skills. Cross motor is the use of legs and fine motor refers to use of fingers or hands. If a child shows interest in cross motor, it shows interest in football/soccer or interest in sporting whereas fine motor is use of fingers.
For the teacher a programme of continuous ‘Professional Development’ has been introduced to equip the teacher on skills and techniques of teaching. According to the Botswana ministry, half of the primary schools in the country have been installed with computers to intensify the use of The Fourth Industrial Revolution, artificial intelligence, computers usage and almost all the primary schools with computers have internet. The primary schools that have not had computers installed are those without school laboratories which are yet to be build.
Marginalized areas and Communities
There are seven Remote Area Communities (RACs) countrywide. The Botswana Department of Community Development under the Ministry of local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) have on ground solutions to ensure that the enrolment of children of school going age is as high as possible.
The Remote Area Communities have more rates of school drop out although these children, just like any other are entitled to ten-year basic education and those who reside in places where there is no direct access to schools. These children are placed in hostels in order to access the free education provided by the country’s government. There has been also studies that indicate that while open access to schooling in remote areas has increased, little learning takes place in the classroom and early school withdrawal is high due to several competing in school factors.