The court also stated the following, albeit, obiter dictum:. In the case of the child who is deaf, dumb, blind, or otherwise physically or mentally handicapped, a completely different programme of education has to be adopted and a completely different rate of progress has to be taken for granted, than would be regarded as appropriate for a child suffering from no such handicap. Although the above sentiments may be correct, the overriding consideration in each case is the doctrine of the best interests of the minor child.
More narrowly, the inquiry within the context of access to education by learners with special needs is whether or not the mainstream set-up, which is the ideal system, is adequately adjusted to accommodate the needs of learners with disabilities to maximise their academic and social development. In other words, what is required is an all-inclusive assessment of the needs of the learner taken together with the extent of the inclusivity and individualised support of the concerned school.
In other words, the procedure is not automatic that a child with a disability is necessarily excluded from a regular classroom. The sentiments expressed here show that inclusive education is distinctly a model of choice. Most children with special education needs can be successfully and less expensively accommodated in integrated schools than in segregated institutional settings; and It has been correctly observed that excluding children with disabilities from mainstream education disenfranchises them by placing emphasis or focus on their impairments rather than the environmental constraints such as lack of physical access, adequate equipment and the availability of special educators.
The court stated that the failure to create an enabling environment for children with disabilities constitutes a violation of the right to equal education opportunity.
World Yearbook of Education 1999: Inclusive Education
In Mental Disability Advocacy Center v Bulgaria, 76 the European Committee of Social Rights ruled that Bulgaria violated the right to education of children with intellectual disabilities by excluding them from the mainstream education system. In the South African case of Western Cape Forum for intellectual Disability v Government of the Republic of South Africa 77 the Western Cape High Court implored the government of South Africa to take concrete and targeted measures to ensure that children with profound mental disabilities access education.
States parties [to the CRPD] must ensure an inclusive education system at all levels and life-long learning. Learners with disabilities therefore have a right not to be excluded from the general education system on the basis of disability and to reasonable accommodation for the individual learner's needs.
This not only means that learners have a right to attend mainstream schools and not be relegated to segregated schools, it also means that the special education needs of persons with disabilities must be taken into account in the general education system. This goes beyond grouping all learners together in one classroom to ensuring the provision of effective individualised support that maximises academic and social development. The Education for All EFA 79 also affirms the idea of providing quality education for all children in an inclusive setting.
From the above analysis, it is clear that international law acknowledges and guarantees the right to education for children with disabilities, and to the extent practicable to receive their education within the regular education system. Most importantly, international law requires that children with disabilities must be provided with education on an equal footing with non-disabled children. In this connection, international law requires that necessary assistance be made available to children with disabilities so that they can harness their extraordinary potential to learn and secure better futures for themselves.
In a sense, there is absolute need for the rethinking of education set-ups to embrace learners that are disadvantaged by reason of disability. Hence, this necessitates a paradigm shift in the education setting from exclusion to inclusion: and this shift is overdue, hence it must be rapid. It is also disappointing that the CRC Committee has not raised the question of the implementation of the right to inclusive education mero motu with Botswana in when the country submitted its first and only report.
World Yearbook of Education Inclusive Education - CRC Press Book
According to Dart, in traditional Tswana societies, children from villages were educated by age group under a system called bogwale for males and lokwapa for females. More significantly, Dart opines that many children with disabilities, who are unable to cope with a modern western education system which is too formal, would probably have coped better with the traditional education system because it was mainly oral and placed emphasis on practical life skills and knowledge. Chiefs also outlawed it as they turned to Christian practices.
In the government of Botswana adopted its first education policy commonly known as Education for Kgahisano which recommended that each Motswana child must enjoy his or her right to education without reference to their disability, race, ethnicity, culture or background. This policy contains a number of disparate aspects of special education. We will return to this policy shortly for further reflections on it. As part of its efforts to implement inclusive education, in the Government of Botswana established a Special Education Unit under the Ministry of Education, Skills and Development, now called the Special Education Division, which is tasked with all administrative works relating to learners with disabilities.
It is apposite at this juncture to indicate that Botswana has a population of about two million.
The Government of Botswana Central Statistics Office estimates in its Welfare Core Indicators Survey that of the two million, about 4,4 per cent aged six and above live with some form of disability which increased with age. More importantly, at the risk of repetition, the right to education must be made justiciable. The Constitution of Botswana 93 does not contain socio-economic rights in its Bill of Rights. It only promises a few civil and political rights.
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Thus, the right to education, as with all socio-economic rights, is not constitutionally guaranteed in Botswana, let alone the right of children with disabilities to receive education that meets their needs. Like the Constitution, the Botswana Education Act 94 is also silent on the right to education. To this end, it is imperative that it be made accessible to all children, including those with disabilities. It is submitted that the government is under an obligation to provide such free basic education. This simply means that the state has a duty to provide this basic education to children and provide it for free.
In other words, the state is prohibited from levying parents for academic costs of their children. This recognition thus paved the way for the recognition of children both able and disabled , as bearers of a right which may be enforced against parents, other individuals The Act also recognises the right of all children, including those with disabilities to free, compulsory and basic education in accord with article 28 of the CRC. The laws of Botswana are generally silent on the needs and challenges faced by children with disabilities in the school environment.
This constitutes a legislative anomaly when regard is being had to the developing trends at the international scene which are geared at protecting the rights of children with disabilities especially in relation to education. Despite the legislative lacunae in Botswana in this regard, a stop-gap measure has been adopted by way of policies.
As stated above, Botswana has adopted a number of policies that concern some aspects of the special needs of learners with disabilities. Chief amongst these is the RNPE. This policy recommends to the government to ensure that all learners in the country including those with special needs have equal education opportunities. In addition, the policy recommends that each school should have a Senior Teacher responsible for the special needs of learners with disabilities. The Senior Teacher is also tasked with the coordination of a school intervention team in cases of learner disability.
It is also required that teachers should have elements relating to special needs education as part of their pre-service or in-service training. It states that any centre that admits learners with special needs must liaise with the Division of Special Education within the Ministry of Education, Skills and Development for guidance and support. This policy also requires education centres to make provision for learners with disabilities to access school buildings.
Despite the existence of these policies that emphasise the need for inclusive education in the country, the theory of these policies has hardly been met by their practice.
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What is required is a unitary and compact special education needs scheme found in a single document. This will promote cohesion and easier implementation. According to a report commissioned by the government of Botswana in , per centum of school going age children are not in schools, the majority of whom are children with disabilities, those with learning difficulties, street children and remote area dwellers.
In some cases, the government has taken such children to boarding schools. It has been observed that this arrangement leads to cultural isolation as the children are being uprooted from their culture and communities. Thus, this curricular design has the potential to exclude from the curricula fast and slow learners. But most critically, it has been said that this design has excluded from its scope all learners with special needs.
In an empirical study for the adaptation and modification of the basic and senior secondary curriculum for hearing impaired learners, Kisanji has observed that barriers to curricular access in the Botswana education system can be classified into nine broad areas, namely:. The study also contains very comprehensive recommendations with specific regard to curriculum development for students with disabilities and their teachers.
Unfortunately, effort on the part of the government to implement these recommendations has been half-measured. Unsurprisingly, the findings and recommendations in the studies referenced are also reflected in the earlier seminal work of Procek et al on Access to vocational educational training for students with disabilities written in Although it was written about two decades ago, it is still as relevant today as it was then, both in terms of analysis and recommendations, as the majority of the problems it identified have not been addressed to this day.
Provision is limited To address this problem, the Curriculum Development Division in the Ministry of Education, Skills and Development intends to adopt the ULD method which offers a menu of differentiated learning activities that accommodate learners of different abilities. The design of the curricula is gradually being made spiral to allow for constant revision and gradual development of concepts to cater for learners with disabilities. This approach is also suitable for multi-standard classes in remote and mobile communities on account of its ease of variability and re-arrangement of content.
Further, in Botswana instructional materials are largely constructed for the average learner. Their design is made to fit the cognitive grade levels to be delivered by the teacher to the learner. To address this problem, the Ministry of Education Skills and Development has recommended books that are strong in learner material interaction and high syllabus coverage.
The Ministry of Education sometimes provides materials to schools that have children with special needs. The Ministry has also collaborated with the Central Resource Centre for the Special Education in the development of training equipment for special needs. The government also supplies assistive devices to foster access to the school curriculum. However, Hopkins has noted that despite government efforts in this regard, its budgetary allocation for delivery of special education in the country is too ever-tightening. Given that special needs education in the country is still at its rudimentary stages, the government must increase, rather than reduce spending in this area so that it develops to acceptable levels.
Another factor which tends to make the curriculum exclusive is the question of subject packaging.
Related Inclusive Education (World Yearbook of Education)
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