According to the Deaf Zimbabwe Trust (DZT), disabled students are “the most neglected and forgotten”, and public schools must offer a special education programme sensitive to their requirements, which enables their academic progress.
DZT official Barbra Nyangairi said Zimbabwe’s current education system was a far cry from being inclusive and providing quality education for learners with disabilities.
“The majority find themselves doing petty vending on the streets or begging. It is sad to note that many who are supposed to be in Grade Seven are not able to read, write and are functionally-illiterate,” she said, ahead of the “global week of action for education” running from April 23 to 29.
Nyangairi said investment in education for children with disabilities has not had any positive returns and called on government to save the situation.
“The first port of call could be the development of an inclusive education policy that provides guidelines on how to provide support to vulnerable children in the education system.
“Currently, efforts to support children with disabilities in the education system are not guided by any force of policy,” she said, further questioning how we can attain quality education when deaf learners do not have a sign language syllabus to use.
While the Primary and Secondary Education ministry, in its new curriculum, has made the syllabi for Shona, Ndebele, Tonga, Tshivenda, Kalanga, Nambya, Sesotho and Shangani to mention a few, the new programme of study is conspicuously silent on sign language for the deaf.
Sign language is a visual means of communicating using gestures, facial expression, and body language.
The shape, movement, and location of the hands, facial expressions and body are used to communicate with one another.
“As we celebrate the global week of education, at DZT we do this with much sadness at the state of education for children who are deaf and those with disabilities broadly, who need the most care but are the most neglected and forgotten,” Nyangairi said.