Education Bill should be inclusive says DZT.
According to DZT, a very large percentage of children with disabilities are not in school for various reasons and hence they want all registered schools to have special facilities for them.
The Deaf Zimbabwe Trust (DZT) has come up with a raft of recommendations for the Education Bill, claiming the majority of children with disabilities are usually shut out for lack of required amenities.
DZT said the current Bill has sections that do not seek to end the vulnerability of children with disability through the use of clauses that emphasise the availability of resources for the disabled children to attain education.
“The Act should mandate the government to ensure that every registered school provides disability-friendly infrastructure, teachers who are able to handle learners with disabilities, access to the curriculum and access to information for all learners with disabilities as espoused under section 83 of the Constitution,” DZT said.
According to DZT, using the 2017 figures, an estimated 12% of learners with disabilities attend school and the number of children in primary schools compared to those in secondary schools shows that less than 19% of them proceed for secondary education.
“There is a need for additions to Section 68(b) of the current Act to mandate every registered school to provide infrastructure suitable for use by pupils with disabilities. The section should also mandate registered schools to provide teaching and learning processes suitable for use by pupils with disabilities.
“The Bill should remove the clause ‘subject to the availability of resources’ and show commitment to incrementally ensure that children with disabilities are included in schools through the friendly curriculum and the built environment of the schools.”
The DZT said there was lack of political will and commitment to supporting disability education, lack of role models for children with disabilities, low expectations from family and schools of good educational outcomes for children with disabilities.
Among its proposals, DZT said the language of instruction during learning shall be the language of examination, and that the government should set up special schools for children who are not able to learn in mainstream settings for various reasons, and ensure that there is will to create conducive mechanisms to let the deaf access school infrastructure and learning with ease like others.
DZT, has meanwhile, also pleaded with the government to provide a platform that allows deaf citizens to access higher and tertiary education in order to widen their future employment opportunities.
Presenting before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Youth, Sports and Recreation, programmes officer of the organisation, Veronica Mwanza said deaf youths were failing to enter tertiary institutions because they would have failed English language in their Ordinary-Level examinations.
“Access to education is problematic and while for the deaf who have all other Ordinary-Level subjects except English, they are denied access into these institutions because Zimbabwe has not developed a sign language syllabus beyond Grade 3, therefore, it makes it difficult for these people to attain higher education,” she said.
Mwanza said lack of laws that bind higher and tertiary education institutions to enrol deaf students also hindered them from completing their studies.
“Only 12% of children living with disabilities are enrolled in primary schools and more than 80% of those are lost during the transition from primary to secondary education and this has negative implications on their access to higher and tertiary education and employment opportunities. There is no law in Zimbabwe that compels schools and institutions of higher and tertiary education to enrol persons with disabilities and to ensure they complete their studies,” she said.
Mwanza urged the government to put in place disability policies that would be mainstreamed throughout institutions to ensure equal access to education and employment opportunities for people living with disabilities. “In our key requests we ask the government to develop a disability policy for the country that will be mainstreamed throughout the institutions of the State and non-State actors,” she said.
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