CHILD DISABILITIES LEARNING CENTRE
Child Disabilities Learning Centre under the Maboshe Memorial Centre (MMC)'s work focuses not only on tailoring education to meet the needs of children with disabilities, but also on changing attitudes to break the cycle of destitution that entraps children with disabilities.
The right of persons with disabilities to education is guaranteed by the Persons with Disabilities Act No. 06 of 2012. Particularly Part V, Division 1 of the Persons with Disabilities Act has interpreted rights of persons with disabilities to access inclusive quality education at all levels. In addition, the Government of the Republic of Zambia has the obligation through the Ministries responsible with education to provide the support required to facilitate the effective education of persons with disabilities, including providing reasonable accommodation, adapted equipment and individualized support measures as well as employing teachers who are qualified and trained to teach persons with disabilities within regular schools.
Children with disabilities face huge struggles in accessing education in the rural/remote areas where we work. Inadequate funding means that government schools lack: ramps for wheelchairs, transport services for those who struggle with mobility, and 'disability-friendly' learning resources and study spaces. There are also very few teachers who have had adequate training in how to incorporate children with disabilities into classroom learning. Many people underestimate the capabilities of those living with disabilities and therefore don't invest in educating children with disabilities.
The ongoing exclusion from education has meant that many children with disabilities remain uneducated and illiterate. This leaves many of them unable to support themselves, contribute to their households or fully participate in their communities. Many have to resort to begging, which only serves to reinforce the stigma already attached to children with disabilities in Zambia.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Maboshe Memorial Centre (MMC) offers a comprehensive approach to improving access to education for children with disabilities. We work with government schools to help identify children who may need more assistance in the classroom and help teachers think about how they can best cater for children with disabilities. This involves improving physical access to schools, creating extra tutorials for children struggling in the classroom, and producing 'disability-friendly' learning materials that can be easily disseminated.
For children with disabilities who are unable to attend mainstream schools, such as those who are deaf or blind, MMC supplies vouchers to enable them to attend local specialist schools. We also offer out-of-school classes for children with disabilities who have never had the chance to go to school. These classes focus largely on basic literacy, numeracy and life skills and are combined with specialist vocational training courses in areas of the beneficiaries' choosing, with a view to establishing them in trade or employment over the longer term.
Addressing stigma and creating long-term change means helping people living with disabilities to be heard and respected in their community. MMC is part of an emerging movement which helps children with disabilities to advocate for their right to be recognised as equal and valuable members of the community.
MMC works towards fostering relationships between local organisations and regional governments where both sides can work collaboratively to improve the accessibility of services and address social obstacles to inclusion.
WHO DOES IT HELP?
This programme is mainly benefiting children with disabilities in Western province, Zambia. This initiative has reached almost 100 children with disabilities across the province; however we aim to target all children with disabilities in western, Zambia through a wide range of formal and non-formal education opportunities.
- Improve the enrolment and retention of all children with disabilities in primary and secondary education.
- Support access to education of all children with disabilities in rural and remote rural communities.
- Improve Teacher Training at teachers' colleges as well as providing continuous professional development for in-service teachers.
- Support formal and non-formal education that promotes inclusive, democratic and peaceful communities and leads to higher employment levels and a better quality of life.
- Utilise education and livelihood training to support the recovery of post-conflict areas, including working with returnees and abductees.
- Promote girls' education through girl-friendly schools, community awareness and support.
- Improve the quality of learning and learning resources in order to increase literacy in local languages and English.
- Increase respect for children with disabilities' rights and awareness of child protection issues within schools and communities.
- Build the capacity of local government and civil society to provide inclusive, quality education in line with government plans and guidelines.
- Reach under-served and hard to reach communities using innovative and flexible approaches to deliver education.
- Develop alternative learning programmes for excluded communities combining basic education with practical skills and vocational training.
- Work with children with disabilities to overcome the social and financial obstacles that prevent them from accessing education.
- Support the realisation of government policy such as providing all children with early childhood education or supporting drop-outs to return to school.
- Address challenges in formal education especially around increasing the transition from primary to secondary, incorporating special needs groups, and developing more learner-centred curriculum and teaching methods.