Government and a dis- ability rights organisation yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding to eliminate discrimination and barriers to participation and learning for children with disabilities in the country.Speaking at the signing ceremony, the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Dr Lazarus Dokora, said Government was committed to promoting a more inclusive educational approach to provide learning opportunities for children with disabilities.
The ministry and the Leonard Chishire Zimbabwe Trust signed an MoU to expand the implementation of the Inclusive Education Programme from the initial four to cover all the country’s 10 provinces.
“As a ministry, we view inclusive education as a strategy to address the diverse needs of learners through increasing their participation in learning and reducing exclusion/barriers within education,” Minister Dokora said.
“We are going to mobilise funds to run workshops to impart skills to our teachers on how to teach children with disabilities.”
Zimbabwe has 33 schools only that provide education to children with disabilities and the Inclusive Education Programme now aims to promote equality and the inclusion of the disabled in all the country’s schools.
Leonard Cheshire Zimbabwe Trust director Mr Ben Chikwanha said the pilot programme started in 2013 in 21 schools in the Midlands, Mashonaland East and West provinces.
He said a total of 979 children with disabilities were enrolled in the schools as a result of the programme.
“We were also able to assist in the adaptation of infrastructure, formation of parent-to-parent and child-to-child groups, purchasing of assistive devices for those who needed them and providing learning materials for the resource centres,” Mr Chikwanha said.
He said his organisation was engaging with SDCs in schools to come up with transport solutions to ensure that those children who require some form of transport are not overlooked.
“Apart from the usual activities associated with the Inclusive Education project we have added other dimensions to the programme,” Mr Chikwanha said.
“We have engaged some local people in the communities to go around identifying CWDs in homes who are not yet going to school.” The project also aimed to prepare educators to implement inclusive education policies and strategies as they did not have the knowledge, skills and dispositions to be able to teach children with disabilities in an effective way.