Reading comprehension skills of Standard 4 pupils: a comparison of private and public schools in Botswana

  • Rose Letsholo-Tafila University of Botswana
  • Moyosure M Alimi University of Botswana
Keywords: reading comprehension, constructivism, critical thinking, inferencing, private schools, public schools


This paper compares the reading comprehension of standard  4 pupils in four primary schools, two public and two private schools in urban and rural settings in Botswana. Using a standard comprehension test administered to the pupils, the study answers two main questions: Are there significant differences between the comprehension abilities of (a) public and private school pupils, (b) rural and urban private school pupils, and (c) urban and rural public school pupils? What are the implications of the differential abilities for the pupils’ academic success? The findings show that the private school pupils performed better and that the urban private school pupils were better at extracting information and making inferences, while the rural private school pupils were better at interpreting information. The study underscores three areas of need: enhancing learning environment in public schools, building a strong foundation for critical/analytical reasoning and maintaining reasonable class size.

Author Biographies

Rose Letsholo-Tafila, University of Botswana
Prof. Rose Letsholo-Tafila is an Associate Professor of Linguistics at the University of Botswana. She holds a Ph.D from the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) in Linguistics (Syntax). Her research is mainly on the syntax of Ikalanga Setswana, Khoesan languages, all spoken in Botswana. She also researches on psycholinguistic issues.
Moyosure M Alimi, University of Botswana
Prof. Modupe Alimi taught English Linguistics and Applied Linguistics at the University of Botswana for many years. Her research interests are in English as a Second Language, English for Academic/Specific Purposes and Second Language Acquisition.