Limkokwing Empowers Students With Special Needs

Limkokwing Special Needs students as a sporting tournament
Limkokwing Special Needs students as a sporting tournament

One of the greatest debates has been the possibility of realising inclusive education in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions.

This has been a topical issue that many find difficult to embrace considering the challenges that it poses for both students and lecturers across the world.

However in 2009, Limkokwing University found it fitting to make a strong commitment to widening access to tertiary education in general and to students with special needs and orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) in particular by establishing a fully-fledged Special Needs Department.

The department is fully equipped with relevant specialised equipment that provides a conducive learning environment and enables all students despite their disabilities to study well and with ease.

To date over 130 students with special needs have graduated with Associate Degrees and Degrees from Limkokwing while others are excelling in their studies with one such student being Tawanda Mutasa, an international first year BA (Hons) Degree student in Broadcasting and Journalism. 

Born in Zimbabwe with virtual and visual impairment, Tawanda defied all odds by creating a phenomenal website as part of his assignment in Web Journalism and beating most if not the rest of his classmates. 

Using various software applications on his personal computer, Tawanda is able to write and submit assignments on time to all his lecturers without any difficulty. 

His Web Journalism lecturer, Godfrey Mlambo stated that he is very smart to say the least, very participative in class and is such a joy to teach as he does not even consider himself physically challenged.

Lorato Gaarogwe, Head of the Special Needs Unit stated that working with Tawanda is a humbling experience as he is a very inspirational individual to his classmates.

“Whilst we wanted to exempt some special needs students from practical modules like Web Journalism, Tawanda was reluctant to drop the module as he said he had the ability to study and the will to excel,” she added.

The department does not only focus on the academic aspect, but also has sports for special needs students. The unit is an affiliate of the Paralympics Association Botswana (PASSOB), which is affiliated to Botswana National Sport Council (BNSC), which enables students to participate in various sporting codes such as aerobics, athletics, wheelchair race, wheelchair basketball and chess. Limkokwing University is the largest provider of tertiary education for special needs students in Botswana with 75 students with disabilities currently on campus, and around 25 to 30 such students being admitted annually.

Of the current group of special needs students, 15 are from Namibia who are sponsored by the Namibian Student Sponsorship Board (NASFAF). 

The fact that the university can attract students with disabilities from the region is indicative of its integrity, facilities and commitment to students with disabilities that the university has established in Botswana. In the same vein, over 500 orphans and vulnerable children undertake programmes at the university.

In 2009, Limkokwing University awarded 10 scholarships and another 20 in 2016 to people living with disabilities in Botswana through the Office of the President.

To date most of the beneficiaries of these scholarships have graduated with credentials that will allow them to have better future and careers while others are still studying.

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