• There are several challenges that learners with disabilities face.
• Lack of technology know-how to access remote learning and having pre-defined courses due to their disability are some of the challenges.
• According to the Disability Survey of 2015, 7.7 percent of the population was disabled.
Zambia National Education Coalition (ZANEC) says learners with disabilities have continued to face several challenges in their quest to access quality education in the country.
Speaking during a follow up Advocacy Meeting to lobby for the creation of a disability desk in higher learning institutions, ZANEC Tertiary Sub-sector Chairperson Christine Imenda, has cited lack of technological knowledge to access remote learning and lack of proper infrastructure that is suited to other needs as some of the challenges learners with disabilities are currently facing.
Mrs. Imenda noted that enactment of the 2012 persons with disability Act was a milestone in government’s quest for the provision of inclusive education as it highlights many entitlements for this group of learners at institutions of higher learning.
“In an earlier meeting hosted by ZANEC, with the support from NOREC held on the 7th of April 2022, several challenges that learners with disabilities face were brought out such as; lack of technology know-how to access remote learning, having pre-defined courses due to their disability, lack of orientation when admitted to school, stigma in communities because of the myths surrounding disability, that their disability might be contagious.”
“Some lecturers avoiding students’ disabilities because they think their disability is contagious. Institutions do not employ sign language interpreters,” Mrs. Menda said.
She added that it is for this reason that ZANEC is engaging Members of Parliament, Civil Society Organizations, University managements and students to find a way of supporting learners with disabilities through the creation of a disability desk in higher learning institutions that can carter for the needs of such learners.
Mrs. Menda further expressed gratitude to the Youth Empowerment and Transformation Trust (YETT) through its Student Academic Freedom Regional Advocacy Program (SAFRAP) for the continued support.
Speaking at the same event, Mbabala Member of Parliament Joseph Munsanje noted that there is a high level of disability in the country because according to the Disability Survey of 2015, 7.7 percent of the population was disabled.
Mr. Munsanje also noted that a huge number of learners with disabilities are dropping out of school due to lack of home education support programs and finances to help them progress to tertiary education level, hence the need for the creation of a disability desk in higher learning institutions to address these challenges.
“At early childhood education, children with disabilities come very late into the education system they do not have home education programs to support children with disabilities to start learning from home, therefore a lot drop out and by the time we reach higher level, we have only few progressing. Those very few who are progressing need to be supported to be able to complete their higher education.”
“The challenges and factors are many and valid, so it is up to us under the wonderful initiative of ZANEC to come up with solutions that can promote and support the progression in education of learners with disabilities at higher learning institutions, hopefully later also at primary level where we have also a huge problem. We need to start from enrolment, at Pre-school level, and support the whole process all the way to higher learning institutions,” Mr. Munsanje said.