Distance Education in Botswana and Library Service: Matters Arising Since the Colonial Period for the Records

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Olugbade Oladokun


With the cross-border experience that began in Salisbury College in Southern Rhodesia and ended with the award of Elementary Teachers’ Certifi cate (ETC) by the Education Department then based in Mahikeng, this paper submits that the History of open and distance learning (ODL) in Botswana predates the country’s Independence in 1966. Using documentary sources, the fi rst part of the paper provides an account of the peripatetic existence of distance education starting from the colonial period. The provision of distance education programmes at various stages in Botswana is articulated in response to how distance education has operated thus far in the country. The paper also points to the pedagogical methods utilised. The second part of the paper looks at the unquenchable thirst for education by Batswana in the face of limited programmes on offer in the country by distance delivery mode. This heralded the rush for cross-border distance education to satisfy the yearning. But then any academic programme of merit requires quality library service to enhance the learners’ motivation, learning process and learning success. Using qualitative
and quantitative research design, this study applies vital elements (management, facilities and equipment, resources and services) of standards/guidelines for distance learning library service designed by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), to gauge library service to distance learners of four distance teaching institutions in Botswana. The results of the survey seem to evoke some tension between the beauty of the programme and the ugliness of not being able to signifi cantly meet the information needs of the students in the programme. The library service offered to distance learners falls short of the expectation of the standards and the students were generally not satisfi ed. The paper identifi es with the belief that both physical and virtual library service should be offered even as the Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) is urged to apply a clear regulatory and quality assurance regime that entails all requirements for the approval and practice of tertiary level ODL programmes in Botswana.

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