Francistown - Mater Spei College
Before 1963, there was no Secondary School in the Northern part of Botswana. Looking at the need for such
an institution, the Catholic Mission under the leadership
of the late Bishop Murphy opened Mater Spei College (Mother of Hope) in Francistown in 1963. The college’s beginning was small, taking over the classrooms of “Our Lady of the Desert Primary School”. It soon grew quickly
to supply the community with a centre of education for
the growing number of students. Mater Spei is a Catholic Mission Government Aided School emphasising church
and state cooperation.
In 1964, an expansion of the facilities was initiated as the college continued to grow and provide a five year
education program. In 1990, Mater Spei College became
Secondary School with a total of 36 classes composed of twelve classes each of Forms 3, 4 and 5. At that time senior schools were doing three years after Junior Certificate.
Recently that has changed to two years of senior secondary education for all students. Presently the college has twenty one classes each of Form 4 and Form 5 with a total enrolment of over 1,700 students.
Our Lady of the Desert Primary School
The School was opened on the 28th January 1957 by the late Bishop Urban Murphy and Fr. Killian Matthews with five teachers. The two Sisters on the staff were the only qualified teachers.
The building consisted of four classrooms, and office, a staff room and a storeroom. Sr. Columba Ryan, CP was the first Principal until 1971 when she resigned due to ill health.
In September 1978 the school moved from where it was paving the way for the development of Mater Spei to where it is situated today in Area W. The school continues to produce very good results in the Standard VII exams in the country. It is the envy of many schools in the Francistown municipality. The Our Lady of the Desert Primary School today has 990 pupils with 25 teachers. The present head is Mrs. Ndlovu
Serowe - St. Gabriel's Primary School
Serowe Mission had for years tried to make progress towards opening a Primary School, the people knew of the great name and fame of the Catholic Church in education field.
It was in 1968 when at last St. Gabriel’s Primary School was established with initial enrolment of ninety (90) children and two (2) lady teachers. The parish priest at the time, Fr. Oswald acted as a School Manager and a temporary School Head.
Over the years St. Gabriel's Primary school has grown in numbers, in structural development and academic performance. At the moment the number of pupils stands at 586, 16 teachers with 14 classrooms. The parish priest of the mission is still the School Manager, working with a Board of Governors.
The school has excelled in academics always taking position one (1). The standard of behaviour of the students and teachers is highly commended. The school has produced many people in responsible positions in our society (Botswana) - ranging from politics to private entrepreneurship.
The vision of the school has been to produce responsible individuals who will be assets to the community.
Tonota – St. Arnold’s English Medium Catholic Primary School
An English Medium Primary School operated by the church was requested by some of the parents whose children attended the St. Bridget’s Preschool at Tonota. This desire of the parents was all that Fr. Thomas Nelluvely, the Parish Priest of St. Bridget’s Parish needed to begin. At first it was meant to be a Parish venture.
Lots of difficulties were faced with getting the necessary approval from the local council authorities in Tutume. The land at the mission was not large enough for the primary school. The Education Secretary of the Council suggested we get additional land for the project. In 2005, we applied for and got land near Tonota College of Education at Tholotsane Ward on a 30 year lease.
It was just about the same time that the SVD Province was thinking of starting a Private school. The suggestion was made to consult the Bishop and, if he had no reservations, about it that the Tonota School being given to the SVD Province as their project. The Bishop agreed and now the SVD has started the school in Tonota. It is named St. Arnold English Medium Catholic Primary School after the founder and father of the SVD.
On 22nd January 2007, the school was officially inaugurated by the Provincial Fr. Patricio de los Reyes, with a roll of 18 pupils. The number rose to near sixty in January 2008, with a teaching staff of six. To date, the school has no power connection, no proper playground nor a library. In spite of the shortcomings the people of Tonota are quite enthusiastic about the new school.
St Patrick’s School – Mahalapye
After Fr. Urban Murphy was given land to build a Church and School in Mahalapye in 1960, a single block of 5 classrooms was constructed not far from the river by Fr. Fergal Smyth, CP. This building served a dual purpose of school during the week and on Sunday Mass was celebrated in the double classroom. For many years there was no further development as this part at the village had been chosen as a possible site for a dam to give much needed water for Mahalapye. It was only in the late 60’s that permission was granted for another block of classrooms to be erected parallel to the first one.
Throughout its history St. Patrick’s has always had a lay Principal while the Parish Priest acted as the Manager. When the Ursuline Sisters came to Mahalapye, one was assigned to the staff of the primary school. Sr. Elizabeth Markham taught for 10 years before being transferred to Serowe.
As Mahalapye village developed out towards St. Patrick’s the school enrolment grew to double streams. This meant new facilities were required – more classrooms, a better kitchen and a principle’s office and staff rooms.
In the mid 90’s a grant was received from the European Union to enable the whole school complex to be revamped and new classroom blocks added.
From its inception the ethos of St. Patrick’s has been to provide a solid Christian education for not only students, but of the staff and families.