oa Mosenodi - Maximising learning opportunities for Tirelo Setshaba (Botswana's unique non-military national service)

Volume 6, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1021-559X



Each society has its own ways of preparing young people for adult life. In Botswana, for centuries, youth were prepared for the transition to adulthood throughinitiation (bogwera and bojale) where both boys and girls were taught about their new roles. With colollialization and Christianity these practices were largely abandoned and formal schooling became the means to prepare youth for their futures The failure of increasing numbers of school leavers robe absorbed by the modern economy and the new society, resulted in displacement, alienation and delinquency. In 1980, Botswana introduced a form of national service for form V leavers-Tirelo Setshaba, a nonmilitary, individual placement, user-department-based scheme. Tirelo Setshaba was developed as an exercise in nation-building, designed to encourage self-development of participants, to enable them to participate in rural development, especially in remote areas, and to sensitise them to other social and cultural situations. This paper is based on research undertaken to assess the contribution of Tirelo Setshaba Participants to national development in the field of education. The paper highlights the problems involved in managing such a programme and makes suggestions on how to maximise learning opportunities for the participants. The paper considers the implications of Tirelo Setshaba for Namibia and South Africa, both of which countries have shown some interest in Botswana's unique from of national service.

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