The European Union has disbursed P131 million (approx. 11.19 million EUR) to the Government of Botswana as part of its budget support programme for the on-going reforms in the education sector. The disbursement also supports actions taken to reduce the risks to the mother's life associated with pregnancy and childbirth and to increase the survival rate of infants and children under the age of five (Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5).
The payment was the seventh payment under the Human Resource Development Support Programme, which has to date disbursed 91.43 million EUR (approx 953 million pula) to the Government to support its efforts to reform the education system, the public finance management system and also in its work in achieving the Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5.
This payment follows an assessment conducted at the beginning of the year with stakeholders from the ministries concerned, civil society and the EU Delegation in Gaborone. Different indicators that had been mutually agreed on were evaluated. Progress was noted in the education sector related to the approval of several frameworks related to teacher training, rationalisation of the sector, multiple pathways and to access and retention of children in schools. These had been developed as part of the Education and Training Sector Strategic Plan (ETSSP). It was also noted that there is now more textbooks for students in primary schools, more teachers are trained to Diploma level or above, and more students finish seven years of primary education.
According to a press release the “Ministry of Health and Wellness had achieved their indicator targets with for example Community Health Workers reaching out to over 60 percent of families with children under five to relay health-related services and by revising a new strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding and for Child health supervision guidelines and tools.” There is now also more information publicly available on causes of maternal deaths, as a Maternal audit for the years 2012-2014 for all institutional deliveries has been developed and published as specified in another target.
However, the assessment also noted that there were delays in the implementation of the education sector plan, the ETSSP. It was further highlighted that as a consequence of the major reorganisation of the education sector in early October 2016, it is increasingly important that senior management of the Ministries in the education sector coordinate and cooperate across the ministries. There is otherwise a risk of a fragmentation of trainings offered to the detriment of the students.
Moreover, insufficient progress had been made on the issue of the management of the tertiary grant/loan scheme that is currently eating up a disproportionate slice of the education budget to the detriment of primary education. In addition, drop-outs in Standard 1 had not reduced to the extent anticipated.
The release notes that the implementation of the Public Finance Management (PFM) reform programme is also behind schedule, but progress was in particular noted with regard to fiscal transparency. “With regard to macro-economic stability, it was noted that despite Botswana's stable macroeconomic situation, it is important that tax revenue reforms are accelerated and economic diversification is promoted. These should go hand in hand in with the reduction of the bureaucratic procedures and improved labour force skills in order to foster private sector development,” reads the statement from the EU office in Gaborone.
The programme is part of the 10th European Development Fund (EDF). The EU is currently looking into the possibilities for future cooperation with Botswana under the 11 EDF in the fields of vocational training, economic diversification, governance and support to local economic development (LED), especially with regard to tourism and the beef sector.