Maung, Botswana 1970-72
Richard Holloway started a Diploma course in Social Administration (Overseas) at the London School of Economics in October 1969. In the second term of this one year course, he was called by the UNA (who had organised his employment in Ethiopia as a volunteer) and asked if he wanted to go to Botswana to start and run a “Brigade” in Maun, Ngamiland, Botswana, as a coordinator on a senior volunteer” salary. He requested leave of absence for two years from his tutor (Richard ……) which was agreed. He returned to LSE in 1973 and completed two more terms and got his Diploma.
In Botswana, in the late sixties, early seventies, (independence was in 1966) there was a movement for employment connected education as an alternative to the more traditional academic education, and formal vocational education. This was called the “Brigades”, and was, I believe, originally derived from a similar movement in Ghana. This was initiated by a renegade South African diplomat called Patrick Van Rensberg who started up the first example in Serowe (Swaneng Hill School) with the blessing of the Bamangwato Paramount Chief. The intention behind the Brigades was that the vocational education was linked to development education (i.e. understanding the processes of development in a newly independent country), and was linked to production from the vocational training which would provide enough income for the brigades to be financially self-reliant. The basic theory of financial self-reliance for the brigades proved realistic, but none of them could start without capital coming from some other source, and because these were seen as competitors to government Ministry of Education schooling, there was no subsidy from that source in the beginning.
The Brigade at Maung was unique in that it was linked to the Local District Council. The Council had saved a substantial fund from empounding stray capital (owners had to pay to get them back) and fees on game killing (Ngamiland was a very game rich area and all Batawana (tribespeople of Ngamiland) paid an amount every year for a “pot licence” (i.e. killing a limited amount of game for the pot). The District Council, and the Batawana Tribal Council thus had the funds to start a Brigade, and the commitment to do so (it was the fifth to be established in Botswana) – what they lacked was the management and staff to do this. They contracted UNA IS (UK), who contracted Richard Holloway.
Richard Holloway was given six months to design and start the Ngamiland Youth Training Centre. He negotiated with tribal councils throughout Ngamiland and was allocated one Peace Corps Volunteer (Bill Grisley). He also visited and learnt from the other Brigades (most of which, however, were providing for modern sector employment since they were in the more developed part of the country). Some brigades set up their own manufacturing plants, by NYTC did not. By the autumn of 1972 there were two courses under way, agreed by the Tribal Council, the North West District Council and the District Commissioner. – a three year Building Course, and a two year Farming Course situated at Shorobe, 20 kms from Maung. They were joined in the months following by a two year carpentry course, and a two year dress making courses, for girls. The instructors were Farming – an American and a Zimbabwean, Carpentry – a Motswana, Building – a Zimbabwean, and Dress Making – a Motswana. Richard Holloway provided the evening classes in development education.
The governance of the NYTC was with the NW District Council which owned the Brigade, and there were advisors from locally respected individuals. A local businessperson was an honorary treasurer.
- Setting up and running competent and professional courses for roughly 20 young people each in Farming, Building, Carpentry, and Dress making – the graduates of which had a very good chance of getting employment in the area.
- Receiving substantial numbers of young people from the region for the courses – sent by their tribal councils.
- Earning substantial income from sales of professionally produced products and services from these four courses which paid for their costs.
- Winning the Medal for Achievement of the District Agricultural show in 1974.
- Raising of funds for the expansion of the buildings of the NYTC from OXFAM and HIVOS.
- Handing over the position of coordinator of the NYTC to a Motswana with a going concern financially self reliant and well respected in the region with the offspring of many well placed local tribal leaders as part of the trainees.
- Replacing Richard Holloway with two Canadian (CUSO) volunteers, one for his position, and one for District Development Committee Secretary (see later)
In general there were employment possibilities with local firms in the building trade. Opportunities for Carpentry, Farming, and Dress Making were more likely to involve self-employment, and the problem of capital for this were not addressed before Richard Holloway left. In many cases parents were quite ready to absorb their children into their own family business, or help to set them up. It was intended that graduates should be given a set of hand tools for their trade on leaving.
- Ngamiland Youth Training Centre (Ist draft). Richard Holloway.
- The Ngamiland Youth Training Centre (Project memorandum) 1971. Richard Holloway.
- Report on Education in the Botswana Brigades – Virginia Makins (with Getz Moroeng and Henderson Thloiwe) 1971 (with Section on NYTC 66-67).
- Report on the Brigades of Botswana. Anthony Martin 1971.