Special education needs are highest among Form 3 students for both sexes in Botswana. Additionally, the most prevalent form of disability among secondary school students is visual impairment. This assertion is made in Statistics Botswana’s (SB) Secondary Education Stats Brief. “Special education needs are high among the Form 3 for both sexes compared to other levels and least among the Form 6 and Form 4s respectively,” notes the report.
Additionally, the brief notes that among secondary students, visual impairments make up more than 30% of all impairment types. “Visual impairment is the leading type of disability among secondary students constituting 32.6 percent of all the impairment types followed by Class Skills Disorder and Intellectual Disability at 17.6 percent & 15.8 percent respectively,” reads part of the brief. Over the years, the government has put in place mechanisms to improve access to secondary education for children with special education needs, such as the construction of special education units in existing schools and the integration and mainstreaming of children with special education needs and disabilities.
However, the report highlights that: “Currently there is one Government junior secondary school (JSS) and one senior secondary (SSS) with visual impairment special education units and two JSS and one SSS with hearing impairment special education units”.
The South East has the highest secondary school enrolment of students with special needs, according to the report. Statistics Botswana findings are supported by data from the 2017 Botswana Demographic Survey. The data showed that, sight/visual impairment accounted for 49.4 percent of disabilities among the disabled population. This demonstrates that visual impairment is still a problem not only in schools but also throughout the country.
Although the development of special education is highly prioritised by the government of Botswana, some of the facilities will need to be upgraded in order to accommodate the students with special education needs. According to a study by Sourav Mukhopadhyay, H. Johnson Nenty, and Okechkwu Abosi titled “Inclusive Education for Learners with Disabilities in Botswana Primary Schools,” although most teachers preferred inclusive education, “school-heads raised concerns such as inadequate training in special education.”
The Education & Training Sector Strategic Plan (ETSSP) 2015-2020 for Botswana made a commitment to enhancing teachers’ capacity to provide special needs support. The Plan noted, among other things, that some of the challenges being faced are the “disparities between rural and urban schools in terms of quality education and learner performance, particularly children from poorer and more remote rural areas, and children with special needs”.