Bana Ba Metsi started in March, 16th 2000 by a Peace Corp Volunteer veteran Steven G. Harpt. The school's objective is to rehabilitate Botswana's youth at risk, develop their skills, attitudes, and personal qualities.
Although primary education is freely available in Botswana many students, particularly in remote areas, find it difficult to fit into the traditional education system and drop-out or are expelled. Reasons are many and varied: behavioural difficulties,
poverty, orphan families and so on.
The school caters for boys only - most of whom have been affected by problems which interfered with their primary level education such as HIV/AIDS, poverty, bullying and being orphaned.
These boys receive practical/vocational skills development such as bricklaying, carpentry, mechanics, agriculture, music and information technology. Bana Ba Metsi has shown great efficiency as the boys constantly engage in commercial activities
that give them a sense of belonging.
For purely practical reasons, the School caters for boys only, although the Trustees will consider the feasibility of establishing a second school for girls at some future date. The current catchment area is the Northwest District
of Botswana, which is the most impoverished region of the country, although a few students have been accepted from elsewhere. The objectives of the School are two-fold: to rehabilitate youth at risk, and to enable all its students
to pass the Primary School Leaving Exam (PSLE).
The achievement of these objectives would permit the graduates of the School to re-enter the formal education system at the junior secondary level. It is expected that, while attending the School, the students will learn “life skills”
by participating in the design and construction of the School itself and engaging in commercial activities which the School fosters. The Trustees believe that involvement in productive work is essential to the students' rehabilitation
and their effective re-absorption into civil society. Central to the concept of the School is that every student should acquire practical life skills, in addition to completing the primary school programme. All the basic skills taught
in the country's vocational schools are learnt on a regular, though non-formal, basis. These include bricklaying, carpentry, building, plumbing, mechanics, cooking, marimba playing and manufacture, information technology,horticulture,
and farming. The School Bana Ba Metsi School is located in Northwestern Botswana, near the village of Ngarange, on the eastern side of the Okavango Panhandle, opposite Shakawe, approximately 450 km's from Maun. Getting there involves
crossing the Okavango River by ferry at Mohembo, and proceeding south towards Seronga. This remote setting was determined by the need to remove the students from the environment that contributed to many of the problems they faced and
to facilitate their proper rehabilitation. It also enables the staff of the School to impart a sense of environmental responsibility through outdoor activities such as camping, fishing and the reforestation of the area.
The acute financial restraints under which the School has operated since its inception has restricted its staff numbers to the bare minimum of teaching and support personnel. At present the School employs 3 trained teachers, a social
worker, building instructor, administrative assistant, cook, and 2 night watchmen. The Director himself, along with 2 overseas volunteers, the social worker and administrative assistant are required to assume part of the teaching
load. The School has recently employed an engineer with extensive local experience in boat building, metal fabrication and mechanical repair work, who will assume responsibility for the School workshop and maintenance, and will
provide “hands-on” training of the students in these fields. Now that the School has reached its current enrolment capacity of 50 students, additional funds and staff are needed to sustain the present momentum and improve the standard
of service offered to the students.