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).
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid