News / Africa

Zimbabwe Accused of Neglecting Disabled Students, Teachers

Pupils are taught by a senior student at a primary school in Budiriro Township, in Harare on February 11, 2009 (file photo).Pupils are taught by a senior student at a primary school in Budiriro Township, in Harare on February 11, 2009 (file photo).
x
Pupils are taught by a senior student at a primary school in Budiriro Township, in Harare on February 11, 2009 (file photo).
Pupils are taught by a senior student at a primary school in Budiriro Township, in Harare on February 11, 2009 (file photo).
Despite the U.N. Children's Fund and other international donors, the government of Zimbabwe has yet to ensure the needs of disabled students and teachers are met.  The situation is still dire three years after UNICEF launched the Education Transition Fund in 2009 in response to serious shortages of learning materials and supplies in schools.

Zimbabwean Government Accused of Neglecting Disabled Students,Teachers
Zimbabwean Government Accused of Neglecting Disabled Students,Teachers i
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X

The Mtshede Primary School in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe is of the few places where this international support has made a difference.  One of the students, John, for the past seven years has struggled to get into his classroom.  There were no ramps for his wheelchair.  That changed because of funding from UNICEF's Education Transition Fund established for Zimbabwe in 2009. However, John is one of the few disabled students to receive help.

The blind headmistress at a rural high school in Masvingo, Rosewiter Mudarikwa, says the government of Zimbabwe is still giving the majority children learning with disabilities a raw deal.

"If you are with a disability you are like any other person...  There are safety nets that we have been trying to ensure ... but to tell you the truth there is never enough for children with disabilities," said Mudarikwa.  "So most of the children with disabilities come from very poor families.  The deaf, the blind would do well if they get the specialized equipment.  Getting that is a huge challenge."

Since the formation of Zimbabwe's uneasy coalition government in 2009, international donors have chipped in to revamp Zimbabwe's education sector, which almost collapsed because of a lack of funding.  Zimbabwe Education Minister David Coltart acknowledges little progress, but says his government is working hard to ensure life for children with disabilities is better at schools.

"Two years ago, we announced our inclusive policy, which is designed to transform all our schools accessible to children with disabilities," said Coltart.  "That is just a policy at the moment.  There is a lot of work that needs to be done. "

Coltart says that includes erecting ramps at all schools and getting reading material for blind students.

"The Braille materials have been dispatched in primary schools," Coltart noted.  "The secondary school program is ongoing.  I think that some of the Braille books have been sent, but there is a balance which is still has be [manufactured] and distributed to schools."

Headmistress Mudarikwa, who is with the Federation of Organizations of Disabled People of Zimbabwe, says the needs of disabled teachers and students are varied and much more needs to be done.

"Most of them cannot use a computer because there are no screen readers," Mudarikwa explained.  "Most of them they cannot use their mobile phones because you will not be able to read their messages, even if it is confidential you have to ask someone to do that...  That is not the kind of independence we want.  We are simply saying that we are literate.  The only difference is that we read in a different way.  We can listen to if it is audio, or we can read it if it is in Braille.  But when that is not available we feel discriminated [against] because we cannot access information the way we want."

It remains to be seen if the plight of disabled children in Zimbabwe is better funded by a government that continues to be cash-strapped.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid