Press statement on the Day of the African Child 2018

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The Forum for Disability Education in Zimbabwe (FODEZ) joins the rest of the Africa to celebrate the Day of the African Child under the theme “Leave no Child Behind for Africa’s Development.”

This theme is apt at a time FODEZ is advocating for the development of an Inclusion Education Policy so that learners with special needs can have access to quality education. Discrimination, prejudice, stigma and social exclusion are the daily experiences of children with disabilities.

These are consequences of the combined impact of rejection of difference, poverty, social isolation, ignorance and lack of services for support.

Children with disabilities have not benefited from Africa’s development and growth. They have been forgotten and left out of the development process due to the lack of education.

Over 90 per cent of children with disabilities are not in school. Of the 10 per cent that are in school, over 80 per cent do not proceed to Secondary School.

This is a dire situation as education is empowering and the lack of educational opportunities for children with disabilities relegates them to marginalisation and poverty for themselves and the next generation.

As we commemorate the Day of the African child we need to reflect on what future we are creating for children with disabilities when we leave them behind.

Children with disabilities remain among the most vulnerable, forgotten and neglected due to negative cultural views on disability.

Africa’s development will not be genuine development if children with disabilities are left out of the development equation.

Health, rehabilitation and education systems in Zimbabwe do not work together to support disability hence many children with disabilities suffer due to delayed intervention.

Exclusion from education is justified by statements such as lack of facilities, lack of resources and the commonly heard excuse that we do not know how to deal with the disability among other issues.

The Global Partnership for Education has 3 classifications on how children with disabilities are excluded from education: 1. Children with disabilities who are not enrolled in school but who could participate if schools had the capacity in terms of knowledge, skills and equipment to respond to their specific needs

2. Children with disabilities enrolled in school but excluded from learning because the curriculum has not been adapted to their needs, teachers do not have the capacity or time to make the necessary adaptations, and/or they do not have access to assistive devices necessary for their learning needs.

3. Children with severe disabilities who require specialized support, whether in school or outside of school.

This group is relatively small and represents only 2 to 3% of all children with disabilities. An example would be a child with multiple disabilities or a child with a heavy mental disability that requires a different sort of learning. Denying children with disabilities education has life-long impacts on key aspects of life such as work and vocation opportunities, health and creates life long generational poverty.

Education is a right and the Government of Zimbabwe needs to develop an inclusive Education policy and a framework for Disability Education that will ensure that all children with disabilities can participate if the educational system has capacity are enrolled in school. Education is a right for all children and the cost of inaction is high for Zimbabwe.

Key demands for the Government of Zimbabwe:

❏ Zimbabwe needs to develop an Inclusive Education Policy

❏ Zimbabwe needs a clear strategy for Disability Education

❏ The Education Act needs to be aligned to the Constitution of Zimbabwe

About DZT

Deaf Zimbabwe Trust was formed and registered as a trust in 2012 and began operations in 2013. Initially the organisation was formed to advance the rights of Deaf children.

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