Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

The Development of Professional Counseling in Botswana

Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

The Development of Professional Counseling in Botswana

Article excerpt

After decades of colonial rule by Europeans, many countries in Africa gained independence beginning in the 1960s. Since that time, many of these countries have struggled to develop political and economic stability. In much of the continent, that struggle persists today. War, corruption, poverty, and disease continue to have a devastating impact and create major obstacles to stability and peace. Despite these damaging threats to the health and well-being of its people, health services are often poorly funded in many parts of the continent. Mental health services have often been given particularly low priority and are thus often poorly developed (Okasha, 2002).

Among the countries to achieve independence in the 1960s, Botswana stands out as a country that has been able to achieve both political stability and very strong economic growth. As a result of this political and economic stability, the government of Botswana has been able to develop and provide a relatively thorough system of education and social services for its people. One important aspect of this success has been the development of the counseling profession in the country. This article reviews the development and current status of counseling in Botswana and highlights future trends and challenges facing the profession there in coming years.

* History of Botswana

After nearly 80 years as a British protectorate, Botswana achieved independence in 1966. Unlike many of the countries in Africa following independence, Botswana was not overwhelmingly affected by corruption or a political rise of its military forces. This has resulted in Botswana developing one of the most stable governments in all of Africa. Since independence, Botswana has maintained 4 decades of uninterrupted democratic civilian leadership (U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, n.d.).

In addition to political stability, Botswana has maintained strong economic growth since independence as well. Although the economy was based originally on cattle, the discovery of diamonds near Orapa in 1967 resulted in the development of a mining industry that quickly transformed the Botswana economy. According to the U.S. Department of State (2006), Botswana has had the fastest growth in per capita income in the world since its independence. The political stability and economic growth of the country have allowed the government to develop and provide an infrastructure of social services to its people that many other African countries have not yet been able to achieve. In the area of health care, there has been an extensive buildup of facilities and services in the smaller villages and rural areas as well as in the rapidly growing urban areas (Parsons, 1999). An emphasis on education in the country since independence has been significant at all levels, and the government's stated goal of 10 free years of education for its entire population has been largely realized.

The emphasis on education has taken place at the level of higher education as well. A university was developed in cooperation with the countries of Lesotho and Swaziland and was originally housed in Lesotho. A campus in Botswana's capital, Gaborone, was established in 1970, which became the University of Botswana in 1982. In addition to the university, a number of other postsecondary educational opportunities have been developed in the country. Basic teacher training in Botswana takes place in teacher training colleges, whereas advanced teacher training takes place at the university. Additionally, after much planning and development work, a master's degree in counseling and human services is now being offered at the university, and a few doctoral-level courses are available to a small number of students each year.

* The Development of the Counseling Profession

The history of the development of counseling in Botswana mirrors that of the history of the country since gaining independence; counseling has come as a result of several factors. …

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