Learners from Botlokwa Secondary School joined thousands of South Africans to celebrate the 2019 National Science Week (NSW) hosted by Capricorn Educational Resource Centre in conjunction with the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA). The theme for the 2019 NSW was “Facing the harsh realities of climate change". The NSW was launched by the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology on 27 April 2019 in Kimberly, Northern Cape.
Botlokwa Special School is an institution for learners with intellectual impairments, catering to learners between the ages of six and 21. The main aim of the school’s program is to build the learners’ self-esteem and to ensure that they leave the school as independent as possible, equipped with skills they can use to contribute to their communities.
Despite the learners being mentally impaired, they participated and contributed meaningfully to the discussions around pollution and climate change and what role they could play as individuals to fight against this global issue. Teaching learners with special needs about the basics of climate change and other scientific topics can also assist in ensuring that they are also aware of how science in general shapes the world around them.
According to an article published in the Journal of Baltic Science Education, science education helps students become more productive individuals, with the knowledge they acquire by promoting their thinking and learning skills and these skills aid individuals to improve their scientific literacy. A study conducted by Kang and Martin in 2015 recommended that special education schools should be enriched in terms of instructional materials; the attitudes of special education teachers towards the science and technology course should be improved; and teachers should be provided with knowledge and skills of differentiation and adaptation in course activities so as to teach more functionally.
The founder of Capricorn Educational Resource Centre, Valentine Sasa, highlighted Botlokwa Special School as the first school that caters for learners with special needs to participate in the NSW activities. “In 2020 we plan to reach out to more special schools in our district,” said Sasa.