Create space for civil society in NDP 11 review

Universal Access: Every child in Botswana has the right to education
Universal Access: Every child in Botswana has the right to education

On Monday November   18, 2019, His Excellency President Dr. Eric Keabetswe Mokgweetsi Masisi delivered the State of the Nation Address.

In his introduction, His Excellency informed the nation that the current National Development Plan (2017 - 2023) is under review.

Recognising the contribution made by Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in the development of the nation, BONELA therefore appeals to His Excellency to ensure that space for CSOs to meaningfully engage in the review process is created.

It is crucial that CSOs feed into the national plan to ensure that all populations and programmes; even those not directly executed or implemented by government are planned for, and so, well resourced.

The President further noted that government will facilitate review of the Constitution of Botswana. BONELA celebrates this move to review the Constitution which provides the opportunity to include social, economic and cultural rights so as to ensure that they are constitutionally protected.

BONELA applauds His Excellency for the decision to provide ARVs to non-citizens. Consequently, BONELA urges the Ministry of Health and Wellness to develop guidelines for the implementation of this policy to ensure services provided are standardised and devoid of ambiguity.

People with Disabilities continue to face all manner of discrimination and live on the margins of society. It is disappointing that the Policy for People with Disabilities as well as the Disability Law are still yet to be tabled before Parliament. BONELA therefore demands that the enactment of these legal instruments be high on the agenda, as their absence has proven to impede the ability of People with Disabilities in Botswana to fully enjoy their rights. 

The President noted an increase in the number of learners with special needs accessing education from 5,349 in 2017, to 5,400 in 2018. While BONELA celebrates this development, we however note with concern that there are limits imposed on the academic progress of children with disabilities due to lack of sufficient space reserved for these learners at Junior and Senior Schools.

This systemic discrimination is further compounded by the lack of teachers with the requisite skills to impart education on children with disabilities.

BONELA therefore urges the government, as led by His Excellency, to ensure that education is truly inclusive and that the Children’s Act of 2009, which recognises the special needs of children with disabilities, is fully implemented.

*Kelemi is executive director at the Botswana Network on Law, Ethics and HIV/AIDS (BONELA

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