Cantona Bolokang from Botswana, wrote this blog after attending the RIATT-ESA sponsored Children and Youth conference at the 2017 PSS forum.
The Great Nelson Mandela once said “a society’s moral compass is seen with the way it treats its own children”.
All children are entitled an education regardless of their gender, race or socio economic status. Every child has the right reach their full potential. I believe the future of the world lies solely in the classrooms of today.
The disheartening issue is that the education system makes minimal provision for children with disabilities. Very few disabled children are integrated in regular school classes and there is limited special education curriculum. In many countries in Africa there is still stigma and discrimination against children with disabilities. The teachers who want results; mostly focus only on the so called “able” learners. Parents of children with disabilities end up having to pay high school fees for special needs education for their children. The result is that many young able boys and girls stay home with no education.
Ironically, the education system also seems fail even in the “able” students. The hierarchy of subjects is discriminatory. Today, we see children that are good at mathematics being considered more important than those that excel at drama or dance. As a result, the talents of many brilliant and creative young people are not valued- leading to higher levels of unemployment and poverty.
Now let’s look at what can be done:
- Providing equal opportunities for every child is paramount. The empowerment of young girls and boys is the first step. It is in believing, nurturing and empowering every child that they will reach their full potential. This should be done at home, school and the community at large.
- Governments and NGOs should pay greater attention to the education needs of children with disabilities. Measures should be taken to improve the curriculum and infrastructure to be disability friendly. Inclusion should also be up to the highest levels of education.
- More awareness is also needed at community level to reduce stigma and discrimination against children with disabilities. All children have equal rights to education.
- Education should also be diversified. The need for every child to reach their full potential must be met by providing access to all subjects, valuing them all as equally important.
In conclusion, I say let us hold hands and navigate our continent into a better Africa for every child.