Institutional Dynamics and Support for Students With Disabilities in Botswana's Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Colleges

Institutional Dynamics and Support for Students With Disabilities in Botswana's Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Colleges

Macdelyn Khutsafalo Mosalagae
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4867-7.ch002
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This chapter focuses on the dynamics surrounding inclusionary practices in Botswana's TVET institutions and how these impact on the experiences of students with disabilities. The chapter draws from interviews conducted for a doctoral study informed by the capability approach. The researcher argues that the nature of institutional support can produce enabling and constraining features within the structure and relations at hand. Support for students in TVET is of importance despite aspects such as inadequate resources and untrained personnel on disability matters. The chapter also focuses on the contradictions that have marked the education of students with disabilities. In particular, academics have different perceptions of inclusion and what constitutes good practices of the appropriate inclusion for students with disabilities. A group of 17 students with mild intellectual disabilities formed part of the participants, and the study used in-depth interviews for data collection.
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The education of students with disabilities in Botswana has been a concern for both the Government of Botswana and NGOs. To show their concern, non-governmental organizations such as churches, have established vocational training and rehabilitation training centres for students with disabilities. These institutions were designed to equip such students with skills for self-independence, as well as to enhance their competitiveness in the labour market. For the government, establishing 'special education units' in primary and junior secondary schools was an initiative to help students access the curriculum to acquire the necessary skills. The integration of students with disabilities in higher education, particularly in vocational education, has long been neglected. However, with the implementation of Botswana’s Inclusive Education policy in 2011, the Ministry of Education responded by identifying a number of professional institutions that had to meet the needs of students with various disabilities. Some examples are Marobela Brigade for the Deaf, Chobe and Machaneng Brigades for learning disabilities, Gaborone Technical College for mild intellectual disabilities, and Jwaneng Technical College for the visually impaired. Sadly, of all the institutions identified, only two currently offer programs for students with disabilities. This is because the appropriate inclusion of students with disabilities has not been defined because what constitutes a complete inclusion of students with disabilities in policy documents and TVET institutions is not clear (Mosalagae & Lukusa, 2016). In addition, those responsible for implementation are skeptical about inclusion because students with disabilities are labeled as “untrainable'. However, in response to global concern for Education for All (UN, 1990) and the Dakar Framework for Action (UNESCO, 2000), in 2012 the Government of Botswana enrolled students with disabilities in one of the technical colleges. 

This chapter argues that good inclusion practices have a positive impact on children’s quality of life. These inclusive ideals and practices, well supported at institutions, have produced positive results, particularly for students with disabilities. This chapter presents the experiences of students with disabilities in Botswana. The author show how the institutional dynamics of a Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) college have demonstrated its support for students with disabilities through its inclusion program. Inclusion, in the context of this chapter, refers to Mel Ainscow’s typology four and five of inclusions. The fourth typology considers inclusion as the promotion of a school for all. Emphasis is placed on developing a common school for all and creating teaching and learning methods within that particular school (Ainscow, 2006). Typology five refers to inclusion as an education for all that aims to increase access to and participation in education (Ainscow, 2006, 2016; Ainscow et al., 2013). 

The main purpose of this chapter is to show how a TVET institution, has helped to support students with disabilities through the various inclusive support strategies they have employed. Although the study includes two research sites that are both professional institutions of a different nature (one being a brigade and the other a technical college), the chapter reports on the experiences of a group of participating students from the technical college. The findings showed that inclusion practices do not depend on institutions in the disability category, but on how each institution provides support to students with disabilities to enable them to prosper in life.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Agency: What one has to do to follow their goals, which they perceive as important.

Well-Being: Being able to use capabilities to practicalities in one’s social and personal life.

Technical College: Vocational institution offering programmes for technicians.

Botho: A Tswana word for humanness.

Functionings: Things that an individual may value and have a reason to value.

Capabilities: The opportunities an individual have to do some things of value to themselves.

Capability Approach: A framework focusing on what people are capable of.

Brigade: Community vocational schools offering programmes for artisans.

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