Definition of Youth

The national youth policy (2010) defines youth as between 15 – 35 years.


Marriageable Age

  • Opposite Sex
  • Same Sex
  • Without parental consent
  • with parental consent
  • Male
  • 21
  • 18
  • XX
  • Female
  • 21
  • 18
  • XX

  • Homosexual acts illegal. Source: UNSD, ILGA

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
Under this age, it must be proved that the child had criminal capacity at the time of committing the offence. Source:  Childrens Bill of Botswana

Majority Age


Source: Interpretation Act (Amended 2010)

Voting Age


Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • 96.15% Male (15-24) %
  • 99.58% Female (15-24) %

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • 56.37%Male %
  • 65.25% Female %

Situation of Young People

Prevalence of HIV

Male (15-24) %
Female (15-24) %

Tobacco Use

Consumed any smokeless or smoking tobacco product at least once 30 days prior to the survey.
Both sexes (13-15) %
  • 27.00% Male (13-15) %
  • 20.50% Female (13-15) %
  • Year: 2010
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
revised national youth policy was adopted in 2010, complemented by a National Action Plan 2010-2016.

The national youth policy (2010) takes a rights and responsibilities approach and outlines 12 strategic areas of action:

  1. Youth employment
  2. Youth, poverty and hunger
  3. Youth and environment
  4. Science and Information Technology
  5. Youth and Leadership Development
  6. Vulnerable Youth
  7. Youth, Sport, Recreation and Creative Arts
  8. Youth, Education, Skills Development and Training
  9. Youth and Health
  10. Youth, Moral and Spiritual Development
  11. Youth, Gender and Development
  12. Youth and Culture
The national youth plan (2010) outlines the actions, indicators and lead agency for each strategic area. As a member of the Commonwealth of Nations Botswana is a signatory of The Commonwealth Plan of Action for Youth Empowerment (PAYE) 2006-2015

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
The Department for Youth within the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture has responsibility for the implementation of the national youth policy and national action plan for youth. According to the Department for Youth website, it aims to, "create an enabling environment for youth to participate in the development of this country. The Department co-ordinates youth activities at national level." Within government, the Multi-Sectoral Committees on Youth Programming coordinates youth policies and plans across individual ministries.

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
The Botswana National Youth Council (BNYC) was established in 1974 and is an umbrella organisation for NGOs working on youth matters. It represents district-level youth councils and affiliate member organisations. The national youth policy (2010) indicates that, "BNYC acts as the “Voice of the youth” through the Department of Youth." Botswana is also a member of the Commonwealth Youth Council.

Budget & Spending

What is the budget allocated to the governmental authority (ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth and/or youth programming?
According to the 2013/14 Budget in Brief, the consolidated ministerial budget for the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture is BWP 479 million (USD 55.4 million). However, it is unclear what portion is spent specifically on youth. According to the World Bank, Botswana spent 16.23% of its government expenditure and 7.84% of its GDP on education provision in 2009.
Total Expenditure on Education as a Percentage of Government Spending and GDP

  • % of GDP
  • % of gov. expenditure

Source: World Bank
Gaps indicate missing data from the original data source. (Accessed August 2013).

Additional Background

The national youth policy (2010) details a number of challenges facing young people. Unemployment

The youth are faced with several challenges. The high unemployment rate among the youth poses a key challenge. Youth unemployment is a problem because of the general economic factors, which include low economic growth and lack of growth in labour intensive sections and this results in inadequate job creation. Each year, a significant number of young people enter the labour market in search of employment, increasing the competition for the scare jobs in the formal economy.


HIV/AIDS and associated diseases affect large numbers of youth. According to the Botswana AIDS Impact Survey of 2008, HIV and AIDS prevalence account for 25.9% of illnesses among youth. Moreover, the rapid urbanization causes difficulties for youth to cope with such changes. The life planning skills of the youth are not sufficiently developed to cope with conflicts and emotional pressure or to handle job seekers and the pressure of work in a dynamic economy.

Youth participation

The youth aspire to become present and future leaders yet their participation in development and decision-making processes remain relatively low. There is need to tap into the potential of youth in decision-making processes, for example, with respect to community governance, development and nature resource management.