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 befitting to make a strong commitment to widening access to tertiary education in general and to students with special needs and Orphans & Vulnerable Children (OVC) by establishing a fully fledged Special Needs Department. The department is fully equipped with relevant specialised equipment which provides a conducive learning environment and enables all students despite their disabilities to study comfortably.
To date over 130 students with special needs have graduated with Associate Degrees and Degrees from Limkokwing University while others are excelling in their studies with one such student being Tawanda Mutasa, an international first year B A (Hons) Degree student in Broadcasting and Journalis. Born in Zimbabwe, with virtual and visual impairment Tawanda defied all odds by creating a phenomenal website as part of his assignments in Web Journalism and beating most if not the rest of his able bodied classmates. Using various software’s 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 Mr. Godfrey Mlambo said he is very participative in class and is such 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 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 as it also has sports for special needs students. The unit is an affiliate of the Paralympics Association Botswana (PASSOB), which is affiliated to Botswana National Sports 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 25/30 such students being admitted annually. Of the current group of special needs students, 15 are from Namibia 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 a similar vein, over 500 Orphans & Vulnerable Children undertake programmes at the University.
In 2009 Limkokwing University awarded 10 Scholarships and 20 Scholarships in 2016 to people living with disabilities in Botswana through the Office of the President, and to date most of the beneficiaries of these scholarships have graduated with credentials that will allow them to have better futures and careers while others are still studying.