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For some communities, the medium of instruction was also a disincentive which limited their access to the NLP.In addition, NLP trainers, mostly volunteers, were ill-trained and endured poor working conditions.To this end, the ABEP curriculum integrates various basic literacy and practical skills training components including (see also diagram below): In short, the curriculum is designed to provide participants with integrated and holistic learning opportunities which address their basic human development needs related but not limited to knowledge, food, health, sanitation, shelter, clothing, work, liberty, identity, reasoning, self-expression, communication, and participation.However, apart from the core learning areas (Languages and Mathematics) which are compulsory and are progressively developed throughout the curriculum and across the three learning levels as well as the compulsory use of the standard teaching-learning materials, the ABEP is generally conceived as having an open curriculum that does not prescribe or detail contents and activities for participants but rather provides broad criteria and guidelines for practical teaching and learning at every learning level and area.It was primarily intended to compliment the formal school system by promoting access to education for out-of-school groups and, in particular, by enabling “250 000 presently illiterate men, women and youth to become literate in Setswana and numerate in six years, 1980-85” (Ministry of Education, 1979, cited in Hanemann, 2005).Implicitly therefore, the NLP endeavoured to eradicate historical socio-economic inequalities and high adult illiteracy rates which had been engendered by a colonial education system that had only been accessible to a privileged few.The provision of universal access to basic education, including adult literacy training, has been a key element and priority of Botswana’s national development, social empowerment and human rights agenda since independence in 1966.Accordingly, several educational policies and programmes have been instituted over the years, the most important being the National Policy on Education (NPE, 1977, revised in 1994) and the National Literacy Programme (NLP, 1981).

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Special focus is also placed on ethnic minorities and people with special learning needs as well as on disadvantaged and often marginalised rural communities.At this level the themes taught in the English curriculum cut across the other learning areas and this way provide a scaffold for teaching these areas through the medium of instruction in the 3rd level.The use of calculators, cellular phones and SMS will be encouraged as supportive learning devices.The ABEP’s comprehensive and integrated curriculum was developed with technical support from the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) and aims to offer participants / learners with basic educational training that is equivalent to seven years of learning under Botswana’s formal primary school system (i.e.standard 1-7) as well as opportunities for training in a wide range of life skills.

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