After I defended Steve Maharey against Sean Plunket’s comments re comparisons to Botswana, I got a lot of comments which made me look at Botswana more closely. It is certainly one of the most successful countries from that region.

* Botswana has transformed itself from one of the poorest countries in the world to a middle-income country with a per capita GDP of US$11,410, only half of NZ at $24,797.

* Economic growth averaged over 9% per year from 1966 to 1999.

* It has the highest sovereign credit rating in Africa and has foreign exchange reserves of over US$7 billion

* The Botswana Government provides full scholarships with living expenses to any Botswana citizen in university, either at the University of Botswana or for subjects not offered locally they are provided with a full scholarship to study abroad.

* Their literacy rate at school is around 95% and for the entire population is the second highest in Africa, and will soon become the highest.

Botswana it seems, in fact, has arguably the greatest focus on education of any country, with it consuming over 10% of their GDP. They see it as their future salvation, when their minerals run out.

So upon reflection it was an extraordinarily bad choice to use as an example of why we should not use Cambridge exams.

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