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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Srebrenica Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs countermeasure at UN More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prisoni
X
Heather Murdock
July 01, 2015 8:59 PM
As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs