Zimbabwe is still lagging behind in school enrolment for children with disabilities enrolled at Early Childhood Development an inclusive education report has revealed.
The report reveals that there is only fifteen percent of children with disabilities enrolled at ECD-A LEVEL and ONLY thirty percent at ECD-B level. Levels A classifies ages of 4-5years old and level B classifies ages 5-6years old.
The report was relased during the Inclusive Education Policy stakeholders’ consultations in Harare recently .
The stakeholders included the Ministry of Primary and Secondary education, the health department , Children of Deaf Adults (CODAs) and Disabled Persons Oerganisations (DPOs).
Inclusive education policy officer from the department of education, Mr Boora said the current enrolment statistics are a cause for concern as children are being denied their fundamental right to education.
“One of the important thematic areas in the Inclusive Education Policy is enrolment and it is embarrassing that Zimbabwe being the leader in education in Africa is trailing behind in enrolment at ECD level”
Boora said the introduction of an Inclusive Education policy was meant to ensure the full support of children with disabilities in the education system and improve learning outcomes for children with disabilities.
Parents of children with disabilities attributed the low enrolment to lack of adequate family support towards the children saying some family members regarded children with disabilities as children without a future therefore educating the child was considered a waste of time.
Another parent also noted that there was need to have more satellite schools and resource centers in order to curb the issue of long distance to schools as the stipulated 5km distance for primary schools was difficult to access for children with physical impairments.
The Zimbabwean education system adopted the principle of intergration before independence but this has largely been theoretical. The country is a signatory to international conventions such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which promote equal access to education by all children regardless of their age, sex , ethnic background, religion and or disability.
Additionally, Zimbabwe has supported the education of learners with special needs including children with disabilities, orphans and vulnerable children since its independence. Sadly, this has over the years been more theoretical than practical due to economic and political challenges.