Located in the heart of Southern Africa, Botswana borders Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. With one of the fastest growing economies in Africa, due in part to its growing tourism industry, Botswana has become a respected leader within the South African Development Community. The unique Tswana culture permeates society with thriving traditions involving folk music, crafts and cattle. Explore Botswana's natural beauty as you watch herds of zebra, elephants and wildebeests graze in the world's largest inland delta.



Languages Spoken:

English, Tswana

Education System

 

TERTIARY HIGHER EDUCATION SYSTEM

Founded in 1982, UB began as part of a larger university system known as the University of Bechuanaland (Botswana), Basutoland (Lesotho) and Swaziland (UBBS). UBBS was located in Basutoland and began in 1964 as a way to reduce the reliance of the three countries on the tertiary education in South Africa during the apartheid era. After Botswana and Lesotho became independent in 1966, the university was renamed University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland (UBLS). In 1975, Lesotho withdrew from the partnership and established its own national university. A separate University of Botswana and Swaziland existed for several years until the university was amicably divided into two separate national universities in 1982. Batswana (people of Botswana) and other stakeholders made contributions of all types (including cash, cattle, grain and more) towards accomplishing the set target to build the new university. As a result, many citizens have a personal sense of ownership to the university and its students.

The Botswana Ministry of Education and its various subdivisions have the mandate for coordinating education in Botswana. Currently, the University of Botswana is the only public comprehensive university. A second public university concentrating on engineering and technology is in the process of development. The country has several publicly funded colleges (most of which are affiliated to UB) offering three year diplomas in various fields including education, health, and information and technology. There are a number of publicly funded vocational education institutions that don’t use BGSCE as an entry requirement. These offer certificate and diploma programs in areas such as music, art, interior design, tourism, hospitality and recreation management. In the recent past, the country has seen growth in the number of private institutions offering various kinds of programs including media, film, business specialties and information technology.

A typical undergraduate degree consist of four years of study. The exceptions include professional programs such as medicine, law and engineering, which often require five years. Admission into a graduate program in Botswana requires completion of a bachelor’s degree program in the area of specialization. Master's and MPhil Degrees in most fields are done over two years (full time) and require course work and a thesis. Doctoral programs range in length from three to four years and require a thesis or dissertation.

ACADEMICS AT UNIVERSITY OF BOTSWANA

The course load of a typical full time student is usually five courses or the equivalent of 15 credits per semester. Most classes are a mixture of lectures and seminars with individual laboratory time and library work. Students usually write term papers more than they take exams. International students may opt to enroll in a three credit-hour research course, including one at UB’s major research station on the Okavango Delta, the largest inland delta in the world, spreading over 15,000 square kilometers of the Kalahari.

Faculties and Departments

The academic programs at the University of Botswana are divided into the following faculties and departments: Business (Accounting and Finance; Management; Marketing), Education (Adult Education; Educational Foundations; Educational Technology; Home Economics Education’ Language and Social Sciences Education; Mathematics and Science Education; Physical Education, Health and Recreation; Primary Education), Engineering & Technology (Architecture and Planning; Electrical and Electronic Engineering; Civil Engineering; Industrial Design and Technology; Mechanical Engineering; Industrial Training Coordination; Certificate and Diploma Programmes Unit), Health Sciences (Environmental Health; Nursing; School of Medicine), Humanities (African Languages and Literature; English; French; History; Library and Information Science; Media Studies; Theology and Religions Studies), Science (Biological Sciences; Chemistry; Computer Science; Environmental Science; Geology; Mathematics; Physics), Social Sciences (Economics; Law; Political and Administrative Studies; Population Studies; Psychology; Social Work; Sociology; Statistics), School of Graduate Studies (All graduate programs).

Academic Calendar

The University of Botswana academic year is divided into two semesters, similar to the North American calendar (SM1: August – December; SM2: January – May).

Grading System and Credit Transfer

University of Botswana uses a credit system where 1 lecture hour per week is equivalent to 1 credit. Most courses carry three credits and meet for three hours per week. A normal workload for a full time undergraduate is 15 – 18 credits per semester, which is equivalent to 5 – 6 courses. A student may change courses for which he/she is registered within the first two weeks of classes. ISEP students, who satisfy the university entrance requirements, may register to take courses for credit or audit. No student will be registered for any program more than two weeks after its commencement.

Final exams are held within the semester in which the course is taught. Students must take final examinations at the scheduled times. Failure to do so without valid reasons will amount to the student being awarded a zero mark (NB: only extenuating circumstances will be considered valid).

Performance in a course is assessed on a percentage scale, a letter grade, and a 5-point scale. The grading system in Botswana is far more stringent than in the U.S. System. It is extremely difficult for a University of Botswana student, either in the high school or tertiary level, to obtain an "A" aggregate.

Percentage Letter Grade Grade Point
80 – 100% A 5.0
75 – 79.9% B+ 4.5
70 – 74.9% B 4.0
65 – 69.9% B- 3.5
60 – 64.9% C+ 3.0
55 – 59.9% C 2.5
50 – 54.9% C- 2.0
45 – 49.9% D+ 1.5
40 – 44.9% D 1.0
35 – 39.9% D- 0.5
0 – 34.9% E 0

Visa and Residency

STUDENT VISA/RESIDENCE PERMIT

Citizens of member countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), most Commonwealth countries and a number of countries in Europe as well as Japan and the United States do not need visas to enter Botswana. However, students are advised to check with Botswana embassies in their countries if they need a visa to enter Botswana. Students are also advised to check the visa requirements of any countries in which they may have layovers on their flights to Botswana. Applications for a residence permit or waiver will be processed only after on-campus registration (validation) at the University of Botswana. University of Botswana will provide an explanation letter in the students admission package to be presented to airline officials who inquire about return tickets that exceed 90 days.
International students staying only one semester or up to six months are issued a waiver.

Requirements for a waiver application:

  • Copy of the admission letter (provided by University of Botswana)
  • Copy of sponsorship letter (provided by ISEP in Participant Placement Acceptance Packet)
  • Pages of passport that contain passport numbers, date of birth, expiry date etc (certified by the embassy or police officer or notarized by a public notary)
  • Letter from the Office of International Education and Partnerships

International students staying longer than six months are issued a residence permit, not a study permit, for the duration of their study.

Requirements for residence permit application:

  • Copy of admission letter (provided by University of Botswana)
  • Copy of sponsorship letter (provided by ISEP in Participant Placement Acceptance Packet)
  • Two passport photos
  • Pages of a passport that contain passport number, date of birth, expiry date of a passport - certified
  • Copy of birth certificate - certified
  • Payment of P500.00 charged for Immigration services
  • Letter from Office of International Education and Partnerships

NB: emergency travel documents will not be accepted when processing a residence permit, only a valid passport will be accepted.

  • It is advisable for new students to bring certified copies of the above documents with you when you travel to Botswana to avoid delays and paying a fee for certifying.
  • You are responsible for maintaining the validity of your residence permit or waiver throughout your stay in Botswana.
  • You are advised to apply at least six weeks before expiry date. The International Office provides support in this regard.

Embassy of the United States of America
Government Enclave, Embassy Drive
P.O. Box 90, Gaborone, Botswana
Tel: (+267) 395 3982
Tel: (+267) 395 7111 (After Hours)
Fax: (+267) 395 6947

Embassy of the Republic of Botswana
1531-1533 New Hampshire Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20036
United States of America
Tel: (202) 244 4990
Fax: (202) 244 4164

Culture

Greetings

Batswana are mostly assiduous about greetings. It is important to politely greet everyone who is present in a room before turning to the subject to be discussed. People will feel disrespected if the necessary formalities are not taken care of first. The interaction ensures that trust and friendship is established.

Food and Meals

Breakfast is taken between 7-9 a.m.; lunch from 12-3 p.m.; and dinner from 4-8 p.m. The typical lunch and dinner meals include one starch, meat, one vegetable and a drink. Fast food such as burgers, fish and chips, etc., is also available.

Family and Culture

There are variations in family structure between cities and villages. In cities, there is predominance of nuclear and smaller family size, while extended family networks are more valued in rural areas. This makes a typical household in villages much larger. Since Batswana attach much importance to attending family events, it is common for those working in the city to travel back to their home village over the weekend or during public holidays to attend events such as weddings, funerals, and other family gatherings. Traditionally, family members assume distinct roles. This is evident in weddings, where for instance, uncles and aunts perform specifically designated functions.

Many people living in urban areas also own livestock, due to the great deal of cultural significance and status attached to such belongings. As modern Tswana farmers see commercial value in their cattle, many individuals have begun to travel to the "cattle posts" in the countryside on weekends to check on their possessions. Cattle posts are often open communal grazing areas (pastures) with isolated kraals, very simple accommodations, and no amenities. For many urbanites it would seem nothing surpasses the periodic thrill of long, grueling hikes through the wilderness looking for stray cattle.

A Changing Way of Life

It should be noted that the way of life of most Batswana has been changing rapidly over the past two to three decades. The young tend to be less interested in farming, cattle posts, and going back to their villages than their parents and grandparents. They spend their vacation and holidays in the cities or travel widely to see new interesting places within the country and the region. They spend far more time and money at restaurants and bars. These changes have ushered new perspectives, altered gender roles, family structures, social patterns and habits, values and cultural status.

Religion

Although most Batswana identify with traditional African beliefs and practices related to ancestral worship, many also consider themselves Christians. However, Botswana is a pluralistic society with various religions representing various groups and ethnicities in the country. In addition to major Christian traditions such as the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Baptist, Methodists, Seven Day Adventist found in most towns and villages, other religious traditions are also present including Islam (with mosques in some major towns and villages), Hindi and Baha’i Faith Mission. Botswana is known for its religious tolerance, which is built into the nation’s democratic ideals.

COUNTRY INFORMATION

The Republic of Botswana is located in Southern Africa with a land area about the size of France or Texas. It is surrounded by South Africa in the south, Namibia in the west, and Zimbabwe and Zambia in the north. The population is about 1.83 million, and has a substantial number of Zimbabwean refugees. Formerly a British colony known as Bechuanaland Protectorate, Botswana gained independence in 1966.

Botswana has been a stable multiparty democracy, holding elections every five years. It is a middle income country that has seen rapid economic growth over the last four decades. The mining of diamonds has been the mainstay of the economy and the country exports more diamonds by value than any country in the world. It also exports beef, mainly to the European Union. Tourism, financial services and subsistence farming are other important sectors of the economy.

Tourism is a growing sector due to the country’s conservation practices and extensive nature preserves, and is also an increasingly important industry in Botswana, accounting for almost 12% of GDP. The country also has some of Africa's last great wildernesses, including the Okavango Swamps and the Kalahari Desert. The Okavango is the largest inland delta system in the world, a bit smaller in size than Israel. The northeastern region of the Kalahari Basin contains the Makgadikgadi Pans, an extensive network of salt pans and ephemeral lakes. Botswana offers some of the best cultural and wildlife tourism in Africa, and is home to 11 national parks and 11 big game reserves. Wildlife is abundant. including lions, elephants, crocodiles, hippopotamuses, brown hyenas, cheetahs, leopards, wild dogs and antelope, and various species of birds.

English is the official medium of communication and Setswana is the national language. There are numerous ethnic groups speaking over 28 languages. The capitol city of Gaborone, affectionately known as Gabz, is a modern city and is a stopover for self-drive tours on the way to the Okavango Delta or Chobe National Park. It is the economic hub as well as the headquarters of government Ministries, the Parliament, House of Chiefs and most International organizations and foreign diplomatic missions/embassies. The city has many shopping malls, hotels, interesting markets, and numerous restaurants and night clubs which often host live music by local artists. The National Museum is situated near the center of town and houses important collections of traditional crafts and Southern African fine art.

Daily Life

Greetings

Batswana are mostly assiduous about greetings. It is important to politely greet everyone who is present in a room before turning to the subject to be discussed. People will feel disrespected if the necessary formalities are not taken care of first. The interaction ensures that trust and friendship is established.

Food and Meals

Breakfast is taken between 7-9 a.m.; lunch from 12-3 p.m.; and dinner from 4-8 p.m. The typical lunch and dinner meals include one starch, meat, one vegetable and a drink. Fast food such as burgers, fish and chips, etc., is also available.

Family and Culture

There are variations in family structure between cities and villages. In cities, there is predominance of nuclear and smaller family size, while extended family networks are more valued in rural areas. This makes a typical household in villages much larger. Since Batswana attach much importance to attending family events, it is common for those working in the city to travel back to their home village over the weekend or during public holidays to attend events such as weddings, funerals, and other family gatherings. Traditionally, family members assume distinct roles. This is evident in weddings, where for instance, uncles and aunts perform specifically designated functions.

Many people living in urban areas also own livestock, due to the great deal of cultural significance and status attached to such belongings. As modern Tswana farmers see commercial value in their cattle, many individuals have begun to travel to the "cattle posts" in the countryside on weekends to check on their possessions. Cattle posts are often open communal grazing areas (pastures) with isolated kraals, very simple accommodations, and no amenities. For many urbanites it would seem nothing surpasses the periodic thrill of long, grueling hikes through the wilderness looking for stray cattle.

A Changing Way of Life

It should be noted that the way of life of most Batswana has been changing rapidly over the past two to three decades. The young tend to be less interested in farming, cattle posts, and going back to their villages than their parents and grandparents. They spend their vacation and holidays in the cities or travel widely to see new interesting places within the country and the region. They spend far more time and money at restaurants and bars. These changes have ushered new perspectives, altered gender roles, family structures, social patterns and habits, values and cultural status.

Religion

Although most Batswana identify with traditional African beliefs and practices related to ancestral worship, many also consider themselves Christians. However, Botswana is a pluralistic society with various religions representing various groups and ethnicities in the country. In addition to major Christian traditions such as the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Baptist, Methodists, Seven Day Adventist found in most towns and villages, other religious traditions are also present including Islam (with mosques in some major towns and villages), Hindi and Baha’i Faith Mission. Botswana is known for its religious tolerance, which is built into the nation’s democratic ideals.

COUNTRY INFORMATION

The Republic of Botswana is located in Southern Africa with a land area about the size of France or Texas. It is surrounded by South Africa in the south, Namibia in the west, and Zimbabwe and Zambia in the north. The population is about 1.83 million, and has a substantial number of Zimbabwean refugees. Formerly a British colony known as Bechuanaland Protectorate, Botswana gained independence in 1966.

Botswana has been a stable multiparty democracy, holding elections every five years. It is a middle income country that has seen rapid economic growth over the last four decades. The mining of diamonds has been the mainstay of the economy and the country exports more diamonds by value than any country in the world. It also exports beef, mainly to the European Union. Tourism, financial services and subsistence farming are other important sectors of the economy.

Tourism is a growing sector due to the country’s conservation practices and extensive nature preserves, and is also an increasingly important industry in Botswana, accounting for almost 12% of GDP. The country also has some of Africa's last great wildernesses, including the Okavango Swamps and the Kalahari Desert. The Okavango is the largest inland delta system in the world, a bit smaller in size than Israel. The northeastern region of the Kalahari Basin contains the Makgadikgadi Pans, an extensive network of salt pans and ephemeral lakes. Botswana offers some of the best cultural and wildlife tourism in Africa, and is home to 11 national parks and 11 big game reserves. Wildlife is abundant. including lions, elephants, crocodiles, hippopotamuses, brown hyenas, cheetahs, leopards, wild dogs and antelope, and various species of birds.

English is the official medium of communication and Setswana is the national language. There are numerous ethnic groups speaking over 28 languages. The capitol city of Gaborone, affectionately known as Gabz, is a modern city and is a stopover for self-drive tours on the way to the Okavango Delta or Chobe National Park. It is the economic hub as well as the headquarters of government Ministries, the Parliament, House of Chiefs and most International organizations and foreign diplomatic missions/embassies. The city has many shopping malls, hotels, interesting markets, and numerous restaurants and night clubs which often host live music by local artists. The National Museum is situated near the center of town and houses important collections of traditional crafts and Southern African fine art.

Health and Safety

https://www.isepstudyabroad.org/guides-and-tips/health-safety

Currency

MONEY MATTERS

The unit of currency in Botswana is the PULA (BWP simply written as P), which is equal to 100 Thebe. The notes are in dominations of P10, P20, P50 and P100. The coins are in denominations of 5 thebe, 10 thebe, 25 thebe, 50 thebe, P1, P2 and P5.

You are advised to carry some cash as you may need it upon arrival, but it is wise to bring most of your money in travelers checks or to just wait to withdraw money as you need it from an ATM. There is no restriction on the amount of foreign currency you may bring into the country, but it must be declared at the Customs & Excise when you arrive. The following currencies can be changed at commercial banks in Botswana: Euro, US Dollar, South African Rand and British Pound.

There is a well-established network of ATMs in major towns and villages for cash withdrawals using major international credit cards and debit cards. Visa is the most common ATM sign in the country. MasterCard and American Express are also widely accepted. There are several ATM machines within the University where students can withdraw cash. All major shopping centers offer ATMs for most banks in Botswana.
On the University of Botswana main campus, there are two ATMs as well as a bank specifically catering to students' banking needs. 

Commercial banks are open from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. during weekdays and from 8-11 a.m. on Saturdays. Students generally open a bank account and are issued a bankcard valid for cash withdrawals, although for students staying for three to six months it might be just as well to use your credit or debit card from your bank at home. Be sure to tell your bank that you will be traveling and check with your bank about international withdrawal fees.

Cost of Living


Living costs vary according to the hobbies, eating habits and social activities. Students staying in dorms can live inexpensively as meals are inexpensive. Apart from the basic needs, you should have a small amount of money for use on entertainment, domestic excursions, etc. Bear in mind that Botswana has a somewhat higher cost of living than most African countries.

Sources of Information


SOURCES OF INFORMATION


Links

http://www.gov.bw/
Botswana Government Online

http://www.botswanatourism.co.bw/
Botswana tourism

http://www.ub.bw
University of Botswana


Suggested Readings

Anthropology:

  • A Handbook of Tswana Law and Custom - by I. Schapera (Author), Simon Roberts (Introduction)
  • Reasonable Radicals and Citizenship in Botswana: The Public Anthropology of Kalanga Elites - by Richard P. Werbner

Economics & Economic Policy:

  • Aspects of the Botswana Economy: Selected Papers - by J. S. Salkin, et al
  • Policy Choice and Development Performance in Botswana (Economic Choices Before the Developing Countries) - by Charles Harvey (Author), Stephen R. Lewis (Author), Keith Griffin (Foreword)

Fiction:

  • Far and Beyond - by Unity Dow
  • Juggling Truths - by Unity Dow
  • The Screaming of the Innocent - by Unity Dow

History:

  • The Colour Bar: The Triumph of Seretse Khama and His Nation - by Susan Williams
  • History of Botswana - by Thomas Tlou
  • King Khama, Emperor Joe, and the Great White Queen: Victorian Britain through African Eyes - by Neil Parson
  • Marriage of Inconvenience: The Persecution of Ruth and Seretse Khama - by Michael Dutfield
  • Seretse Khama, 1921-80 - by Thomas Tlou, Neil Parsons & Willie Henderson with an epilogue by Julius K. Nyerere (Hardcover)

Memoir:

  • Botswana Time - by Will Randall
  • Desert Doctor - by Dr. Alfred Merriweather
  • Doctor Remembers - by Dr. Alfred Merriweather
  • The Lost World of the Kalahari - by Laurens Van der Post
  • Place of Reeds - by Caitlin Davies
  • Twenty Chickens for a Saddle: The Story of an African Childhood - by Robyn Scott
  • Masire: Very Brave or Very Foolish? Memoirs of an African Democrat - by Quett Ketumile Joni Masire (Author), Stephen R. Lewis Jr. (Editor)
  • Whatever You Do, Don't Run: True Tales of a Botswana Safari Guide - by Peter Allison

Politics:

  • An African Miracle: State and Class Leadership and Colonial Legacy in Botswana Development - by Abdi Ismail Samata
  • Botswana: Politics and Society - by W.A. Edge (Editor), M.H. Lekorwe (Editor)

Travel:

  • Botswana - Culture Smart!: a quick guide to customs and etiquette (Culture Smart!) - by Michael Main
  • Botswana: Okavango Delta, Chobe, Northern Kalahari, 2nd: The Bradt Travel Guide - by Chris McIntyre
  • The Safari Companion: A Guide to Watching African Mammals Including Hoofed Mammals, Carnivores, and Primates - by Richard D. Estes
  • Botswana: The Insider's Guide - by Ian Michler

Popular:
Please note that the books in this section are or have been quite popular and are in most cases enjoyable to read. But the conditions described or the narrative voice is considered by some to be outdated and not an accurate representation of present day life in Botswana.

  • Maru - by Bessie Head
  • Cry of the Kalahari"- by Mark James Owens
  • Survivor's Song: Life and Death in an African Wilderness - by Mark Owens and Delia Owens.
  • The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series: The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency (Book 1), Tears of the Giraffe (Book 2), Morality for Beautiful Girls (Book 3), The Kalahari Typing School for Men (Book 4), The Full Cupboard of Life (Book 5), In the Company of Cheerful Ladies (Book 6), Blue Shoes and Happiness (Book 7), The Miracle at Speedy Motors (Book 8)

NOTE: If you read only one book before going to Botswana, read "Botswana - Culture Smart! A quick guide to customs and etiquette" by Michael Main.

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