Failed by the system but striving against all odds
By Mirirai Nyabvure
Contrary to perception, learners with disabilities know how important education is for them and that it is a vehicle for meaningful empowerment.
Low academic achievements resulting from structural barriers within the education system have contributed to continuing disadvantage and exclusion into their adult lives. The reality is, getting good grades at school while having a disability means overcoming extra hurdles. The attainment gap between disabled children and their non-disabled classmates is grim. The minority who do manage to get qualifications are still let down. Such is the case of Charles*(not real name), a determined Deaf young man who has managed to acquire 6 Ordinary level qualifications including Mathematics and English over 3 sittings. Charles was in the mainstream school learning mainly through lip reading since he is post lingual. He excelled exceedingly beyond the hearing learners.
His desire is to become an automotive engineer and that is why he dedicated sleepless nights to ensure that his dream came true. He negotiated and overcame numerous obstacles, with remarkable resilience and determination. Like any other student, he applied to various institutions with the hope to start building his dream but he has continuously been turned down under the guise that the institutions are not capacitated to teach him. How and why when all along he has been learning in mainstream schools?
Tertiary institutions need to ensure that adequate disability friendly resources are availed in order to make mobility easy for students with disabilities. The staff within these institutions also need to be capacitated to
teach students with different forms of disabilities so as to prevent discrimination on the grounds of lack of capable staff.
When learners with disabilities realize their right to education, it will have a lifelong and positive impact on their learning, achievement and
employment opportunities, contributing both to their own development as well as to the economic, social and human development of their communities and countries. Mutual respect and understanding contribute to an inclusive society. Disability awareness is therefore very important when it comes to breaking stereotypes and overcoming preconceptions, because participation of people with disabilities is mainly influenced by environmental and contextual factors. Without awareness-raising, students with disabilities are likely to have a lifetime of unemployment and dependency.
Therefore, it is vital to improve public understanding of disability, confront negative perceptions, and represent disability fairly.However, understanding that disability discrimination is unlawful is not enough anymore. More needs to be done to educate communities about
disabilities and also to provide them with the knowledge on how to carry out tasks regarding disabilities, the over-arching aim being to engage
people in a process of reflection and education that involves collecting information on knowledge, beliefs and attitudes about disability in order
to identify gaps in public understanding, then bridge those gaps through education and public information.
Parents call for modification of teacher training curriculum
By Tinotenda Chikunya
Harare parents have said Inclusive Education must be a module that should be included in teacher training in order to ensure that teachers are capacitated to deal with children with disabilities.
The parents said this during the Inclusive Education Policy Stakeholders consultations held in Harare recently.
“There is need to modify the teacher training curriculum as some teachers in resource centres are negligent towards children with disabilities because they lack special training to cater for children with different forms of disabilities”
“Sometimes children with disabilities are put in one class resulting in the teacher failing to give them necessary attention because he or she will
not have knowledge on either sign language and braille and instead of going to school to learn the students end up going to school to do nothing”.
Delegates at the event highlighted that there was also need for early intervention for children with disabilities by the Ministry of Health together
with the Ministry of education in assisting parents in accepting their children’s Disabilities and enrolling them in school at the right time.
Some parents of children with disabilities said they delayed enrolling their children in schools due to denial and lack of acceptance towards the