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close this bookSchool Enterprises: Combining Vocational Learning with Production (UNEVOC, 1998, 64 p.)
close this folder2. Case Studies
View the document(introduction...)
View the document2.1 China
View the document2.2 India
View the document2.3 Indonesia
View the document2.4 Papua New Guinea
View the document2.5 Germany
View the document2.6 Botswana
View the document2.7 Kenya and Ghana
View the document2.8 Algeria
View the document2.9 Cuba and Costa Rica

2.6 Botswana

The Botswana Brigades

The Botswana Brigades are autonomous, community-based and government aided school-run enterprises. They engage in three main activities:

· vocational training,
· income-generating production,
· community development and extension work.

The average number of trainees in a Brigade is 106. Currently there are 33 Brigades operating throughout Botswana.

Training is provided in 16 different trades, such as building, carpentry, textiles, office skills, general maintenance, computer studies and business studies.

The first Brigade was formed in Serowe in 1965 through the efforts of Patrick van Rensburg, then Principal of Swaneng Hill School. Young primary school-leavers who did not get a place in secondary schools formed the core of the trainees. The school enterprises of the Brigades were an attempt to deal with the primary school-leaver problem by giving training in a trade that would be of immediate benefit to the trainees as well as to the local community.

The training is a mixture of practical, theoretical and on-the-job training. Combining education with production is more than a pedagogical technique; it is also a way to help offset the costs of training. Proceeds from the production efforts go towards the development and expansion of the Brigades. In addition, students and their instructors participate in the construction of their own training facilities such as classrooms, kitchens, workshops and hostels. In the true sense of the word, they learn to engage in productive and economic activities.

The success of the first Builders Brigade in Serowe, where the Brigades movement started, has not so much to do with government initiative and effort, but with individual local communities. The idea spread because it worked, and the community leaders saw the benefit to their communities. Income from the trainees’ production was their main source of revenue to cover the cost of training. In 1975, the government began to subsidise training. Currently, it provides the existing and new Brigades with a financial subsidy in support of their approved training programmes, calculated on per capita basis.

While the government has increased its financial contribution and technical assistance, the Brigades themselves remain locally controlled and autonomous institutions. They are registered under the trust laws of Botswana known as Brigades Development Trusts. A Board of Trustees, made up of representatives from the community, staff and trainees, nominees of the Minister for Education, and ex-officio members such as the local District Officer, oversees the operation of the school enterprises.

Training duration is either two or three years in length depending on the level of basic education of the participants. The curriculum is under constant evaluation given the increasing need for better trained craft workers and artisans at all levels. There is an increasing demand for a greater diversification of training programmes as well as for a higher level of training. The introduction by the government of a nine-year basic education programme for all - ten years from 1996 - has shifted the focus of the Brigades from Class VII leavers to junior secondary leavers.

Since the Brigades’ students now enter training with a longer basic education, its standards can be elevated and curricula can be revised to take advantage of the more advanced trainees. As regards the organisational model, the executive secretary is in charge of all management functions and reports to the board of trustees. A training co-ordinator is in charge of all training activities and unit managers are in charge of all production activities. Close communication between these officials is essential for optimal pedagogical benefits from production-cum-training. Business managers in charge of finance and accounting also offer financial advice and marketing assistance to the unit managers.

Production and commercial services account for almost 76% of the total income of 11.3 million US$. The remaining 2.7 million consist of the government training subsidy, production income from training activities, school fees and donor contributions.

Apart from the pure transfer of skills through production, the trainees learn basic life skills such as positive attitudes towards work.

The Brigades graduates have a much better chance than their counterparts from other institutions. They are trained to work, are more committed, and are not afraid to get their hands dirty.

Economic conditions have changed considerably since their inception. When they began they were generally the only providers, especially in rural areas, of goods, services, employment and training. Today, Botswana has a more and more diversified commercial base. Small- and medium-scale enterprises are making themselves felt even in rural areas. In many places, the Brigades are no longer the sole providers of goods and services. They have to compete with private business and must be concerned with costs as well as marketing. Without advanced business skills among Brigade managers, Brigades may fall behind their competitors with the consequence that the central concept of training with production will suffer.

In addition to this, the private business community has already expressed concern about the Brigades as competitors in local markets. They argue that this is unfair competition since the Brigades are state-subsidised institutions.

The continued operation of these community-based institutions has to do with the recognition by the government that the Brigades form an integral part of the vocational training system in Botswana. The private sector has not yet developed the necessary training capacity for an appreciable number of school-leavers. As the cost in resources is just too high, it is not possible for the government to fill this gap through full-time school-based training using formal vocational models.