Francistown deaf students last week heard from President Festus Mogae who was making all the right noises about their condition.
Mogae, who was guest speaker at the hand over ceremony of a P360 000 cheque for from Barclays bank to the Francistown School for the deaf for a nursery hall acknowledged that government still needed to do more to improve access for students with disabilities.
From a small unit housed at Nyangabwe Hospital, with a class register of 12 names and four teachers, the Francistown school for the deaf presently boast a 10 classroom structure with boarding facilities, dining hall, an enrolment of 106 students, 17 teachers and classes ranging from nursery to standard seven. School headmaster Modiegi Mmila, however, says the school still has a long way to go and a number of challenges to surmount.
She says that there is a serious lack of teacher accommodation within the school premises which hinders the teachers from meeting with the students after school to make up for time lost during teaching hours.
She lamented the serious lack of inclusion of pre vocational skills in the education curriculum for the deaf. This she said does not help the children to be self reliant and confident enough to survive in society.
She also said that they experience a lot of negative parental and public attitudes to the deaf child’s education as some people believe that the fate of the child is doomed as soon as they are born disabled. According to Mmila teachers in the special education program are disadvantaged because they are not accorded positions of responsibility.
She said that progress is very limited for teachers as posts of responsibility are only limited to those of head master, deputy headmaster and senior teacher guidance.
“This makes it difficult to retain teachers as they always leave to look for greener pastures”, she said. She challenged the ministry of education to revise the syllabus and setup of deaf education to suit their disability and enable them to be part of the educated and informed nation by 2016.
When making his speech President Mogae who is the patron of Botswana Society For the Deaf said that the 40 bed hostel will go a long way in enhancing the education of the pre primary children who are hearing impaired. He particularly thanked Barclays Bank for their donation of P360 000
towards the hostel’s building costs.
” I am here to especially focus greater public attention to the good work of the two centers in Ramotswa and Francistown,” he said. Mogae said that though the government has been successful in attaining universal access to 10 year basic education for all, there is still the greater challenge of attaining the same for the disabled.
Mogae called on members of the civil and private society to emulate the good example of Barclays Bank and reach out to assist the less fortunate towards self empowerment so that they can realize their own unique abilities for the betterment of not only themselves but society as a whole.
“Society is measured by the circumstance of all its members, and its strength is the sum of the entire community.” He said in conclusion, adding that a country that moves forward without the input of all its citizens is but a fraction of itself.