Relevance, Equivalence and Progression in an Adult Basic Education Curriculum for Botswana

Article excerpt

Introduction

In many nations, adult education is being urgently asked to specify ways and means by which it seeks to enhance directly the total living, productive and competitive capacities of its target audience. This is expectedly so in a world inundated with searches for ways of promoting the competitiveness of the human resource and national economies in the global market. In other words, adult education is being asked to metamorphose into a vade mecum for coping effectively with globalization in its entirety. The Government of Botswana has since committed itself to having a system of quality education that is able to adapt to the changing needs of the country as the world around changes (Botswana Government 1997, p. 5).

For many developing countries like Botswana where there are still pockets of illiterates in the population, it would seem that the first task of adult education should begin with laying a solid foundation through the implementation of an effective adult basic education curriculum. In Botswana, the concept of adult basic education is used to describe and define adult literacy programs. It is therefore important for us to state at this point that the ontological--methodological frame Bhola (1996-1998) had always applied in similar contexts apply with some modifications to our circumstances.

The ontological-methodological frame is usually situated within an epistemic space defined by systems thinking, dialectical thinking and constructivist thinking (Bhola, 1998, p.487). Under its application, one can assume some considerable degree of dialectical relationship between adult basic education as a process and national development as a goal. This process ostensibly requires meeting individual adult learners' expressed needs, the needs of their societies and communities and the usually over-arching national, social, cultural, political and economic needs.

It is realized that there is no way adult basic education can really achieve the goal just specified without first of all guaranteeing access, equity, equality, relevance, equivalence and progression between it and the formal education sector. That is why improvement in relevance, the quality, and access to adult basic education should guide our curriculum development efforts for the future. The goal of progression nursed by relevance and equivalence could best be achieved if both policy direction and strategies for addressing these issues are implemented.

Hence, this paper has been structured along the lines of examining:

* The rationale behind the Department of Nonformal Education effort

* Basic considerations in curriculum designs

* Some models or progression in adult basic education programmes in Africa

* Some progression issues for consideration in the design of adult basic curriculum in Botswana.

The rationale

Before independence in 1966, adult literacy programs were under the jurisdiction of the welfare officer in the then Department of Education. The program activities were conducted by community development assistants. Adult literacy was not a priority at the time mainly because of the poor economic situation of the country. The 1977 National Commission on Education and the National Development Plans that came after, recommended that adult basic education be given some visible consideration. As a result, the Department of Non Formal Education was established in 1979, and during the same period, it produced a document entitled the "Eradication of Illiteracy in Botswana--A National Initiative". It is this document that provided the baseline for the National Literacy Program (NLP). One of the objectives of the National Literacy Program was to eradicate illiteracy, an ambitious objective at that time but which has been achieved to a large extent as of today. For Botswana has achieved well over 83% adult literacy to date.

The search for a competent curriculum equivalent in Botswana is therefore not fortuitous, neither is it a baseless and cosmetic mere quest for novelty as an end in itself as is usually found in the nascent practices aimed at throwing overboard just any idea administrators cannot comprehend. …