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Citation Information

Type Working Paper
Title Higher Education in Botswana
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2001
The former British Protectorate of Bechuanaland became Botswana at independence in 1966.
At the last census in 1991 it was one of the largest in area and most populated of 71 'small
states' with populations below 1.5 million (of which there were 13 in Africa). The population
in Botswana has grown from an estimated 450,000 in 1966 to an estimated 1.7 million in
In 1983 Botswana had the highest GNP per capita at US$920 of the then eleven SADC
countries whose average was $324—excluding South Africa, which then was $2550 (Makoni,
1994: 179). This relative wealth has fuelled a variety of developments in what has become
known as the most stable democracy and rapidly growing country in Africa. Botswana has
been able to diversify its economy away from cattle and marginal agriculture following the
discovery of diamonds in the mid-1970s and the development of nickel-copper matte, soda
ash, coal and limited, high-cost tourism, mainly to the Okavango Delta (Salkin et.al. 1997). In
2000 per capita income was around $2,000, unemployment was 16 percent, there were
approximately 260,000 formal sector jobs, and the government foreign reserves totalled
$6.350 billion (Gaolathe, 2001).
Botswana is one of the few Third World countries with a hard currency strategy and minimal
exchange controls (Hope and Somolekae, 1998). Despite its poverty, Botswana, caught in the
geo-politics of Southern Africa, was economically dependent on South Africa, and remained
a member of one of the oldest customs unions in the world. Botswana was a “front-line” state
opposing apartheid in South Africa and supporting independence for Zimbabwe (1980) and
Namibia (1990) (Edge and Lekorwe, 1998). An expanding economy and a stable government
has made possible a steady growth in the educational system—Botswana has gone from being
one of the poorest countries in the world, to a middle-income nation (Holm and Molutsi,
1989; Salkin et.al., 1997).

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