|School-based Understanding of Human Rights in Four Countries - A Commonwealth Study - Education Research Paper No. 22 (DFID, 1997, 62 p.)|
|5 Significant country variables|
The basic school structure provides for seven years of primary schooling starting at the minimum age of six years in the public schools, followed by three years of junior and two years of senior secondary schooling. In 1996, at the time of this study, a third year of junior secondary schooling was being phased in.
The philosophy of the current Ten Year Basic Education (TYBE) policy embraces some concepts of human rights. Its Curriculum Blueprint states, among other objectives, that it "develops moral, ethical and social values, cultural identity, self esteem and good citizenship; prepares citizens to participate actively to further develop our democracy and prepares them for life in the 21st century."
Botswana follows an infusion policy which allows for the accommodation of emerging issues. In the former nine year scheme (followed by students who answered the questionnaire) the carrier subject for human rights was social studies, and only one topic - "Our Government" - was relevant. In the new syllabus there are more topics related to human rights principles and practices-concepts, violations, responses to violations, gender issues and children's rights.
Also moral education and guidance and counselling are making a contribution, for example in a practical approach involving cooperation between the Ministry of Education and the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) called Peer Approach to Counselling by Teens (PACT).
Given that the changes to the curriculum had not affected them, it is perhaps not surprising that 13 out of the 20 students interviewed in depth said that the questionnaire was hard. Of the ten teachers and administrators interviewed, six said human rights were not taught to teachers at all, and three said partly; nine thought they were only partly covered in school work. Among the students, the average reply was that only three out of the seven dimensions of the Conceptual Map were being taught; they had particular difficulty with the question about the law and administration of justice, partly because theft was seen as rare in Botswana
Teachers, administrators and students were virtually unanimous that books and supporting materials were inadequate. A majority of the students (12 out of 20) said their families were interested in human rights, and 18 out of 20 said they were best treated as a cross-curricular them rather than in one or two subjects.
All the teachers and administrators said they wanted to see NGOs involved. There was unanimity that a stronger policy for human rights education was needed and nearly all wanted work to begin in primary school; nine out of ten wanted human rights to be examined. In order to make a cross-curricular or infusion approach work they felt there should be more effective pre-service training for teachers, a greater clarity in objectives, and monitoring of what happens in the classroom. They did not see a role for teachers' professional associations.