The projected adult illiteracy rate for the year 2000 stands at 22.8% (males, 25.6%; and females, 20.2%). As of 1999, public expenditure on education was estimated at 9.1% of GDP. The government aims to achieve universal education. Education at the primary level lasts for seven years, though it is not compulsory. Subsequent to that is five years of secondary education (two years of lower secondary followed by three years of upper secondary). Schooling is conducted in Sestwana for the first four years, and in English for the remaining years.
In 1996 Botswana had 318,629 students and 12,785 teachers at the primary level and 109,843 students enrolled in general secondary education, with 6,214 teachers. The pupil-teacher ratio at the primary level was 27 to 1 in 1999. Until 1961, primary schooling was completely financed by tribal treasuries, with some tribes spending up to 70% of their budgets on education. Between 1985 and 1994, the government launched a major program of secondary school construction. As of 1999, 84% of primary-school-age children were enrolled in school, while 59% of those eligible attended secondary school.
The University of Botswana, established on 1 July 1982 by an Act of Parliament, has a faculty of social sciences, education, sciences, agriculture, and humanities. Universities and equivalent institutions in 1997 had 8,850 pupils with 765 teaching staff.