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December 4, 2003

Education dumps deaf student

From: Mmegi, Botswana - Dec 4, 2003

Staff writer

A STUDENT with impaired hearing who sat and passed his Junior Certificate examination last year has said he is trying to come to terms with the fact that he was not offered a place at senior school. Nineteen year-old Dwililane Keatlholetswe broke the record early last year by becoming the first student with impaired hearing to pass Junior Certificate (JC) exams since the inception of secondary education for those with impaired hearing about a decade ago.

Knowing that he would be admitted to high school because of his good results, Dwililane says together with other colleagues he went to see the notice, which would tell them to which they had been offered a place.

As he had expected his name was in the notice board along with the names of colleagues who had done well. Ironically next to his name, where there should have been the name of the senior school he would go to, appeared a blank space.

"I was numb with shock. I was the only one who had not been admitted. I watched other students' rejoice because everything was fine, and I wondered what was wrong with me," Initially, Dwililane, and later his mother when she got to learn of her boy's case, consoled themselves by thinking that the omission was probably just a mistake.

Now, almost a year later that hope is waning. For as many months Dwililane and his mother have been pleading with the Ministry of Education (MoE) to offer him a place, but all their efforts have been fruitless. This has left Dwililane, confused and hurting.

"I worked hard after learning at school that if I passed I would get a place at senior secondary school, but here I am," said Dwililane, who uses sign language.

The treatment by the education authorities immediately brought back his most dreaded worry - remembering that he was deaf and could speak intelligibly like other people. The confidence that he had developed over the years disappeared.

But life must go on, even for the spurned. Without any prospect for further education Dwililane resigned himself to finding a job, no matter how much it would offer him. He got a job at a hearing aid manufacturing firm where he works as a technician and gets P500 per month.

"The pay is not what you would rejoice over, but what can you do with little education?" he said in rhetoric.

He says that the failure by MoE to offer him a place at high school meant that government does not walk its talk. "It says a lot about discrepancies between people with disabilities - and those without - to access certain resources," he said

"After I have paid the rent and bought food, I am left with nothing. I can't bear living like this," he moaned.

He says he wants nothing less than a seat in a high school classroom, as he believes he is capable of doing even better than he did at junior certificate.

© Mmegi, 2002