The Sunday Mail
Dr Christine Peta
IN this article, I continue to unpack the provisions of the National Disability Policy which was launched by President Mnangagwa on June 9, 2021. The Ministry of Civil Service, Labor and Welfare, headed by Hon. Minister Professor Paul Mavima oversees the implementation of the National Disability Policy, moving policy provisions from paper to the real world to make a positive difference in the lives of people with disabilities and their families.
This article focuses on Section 3.9 (Education) of the National Disability Policy, which is stated as follows:
3.9.1 Persons with disabilities shall be exempted from paying fees and taxes in all public educational institutions.
3.9.2 An inclusive education system of appropriate standards, at all levels, as well as lifelong learning for people with disabilities of all gender affiliations, must be ensured.
3.9.3 Learners with disabilities, like all students, should have an individual education plan that includes shared assessments with parents and guardians.
3.9.4 Reasonable accommodation for each individual’s needs shall be provided, including with respect to preferred language, physical infrastructure, scheduling, staffing, assistive technology, teaching and learning methods. learning, information and materials.
3.9.5 People with disabilities shall receive the individual support they need to facilitate their effective education, in environments that maximize academic and social development, including that of blind, deaf and deafblind learners.
3.9.6 Education for blind, deaf or deafblind learners should be provided in the languages and modes and means of communication most appropriate for the individual.
3.9.7 The full development of the human potential, sense of dignity, self-esteem, personality, talents, creativity, as well as mental and physical abilities of people with disabilities should be enhanced.
3.9.8 People with disabilities should be able to learn life and social development skills to facilitate their full and equal participation in education and as members of the community.
3.9.9 Standard Zimbabwean Sign Language, which is governed by a Sign Language Authority, should be established in collaboration with the Deaf community in Zimbabwe.
3.9.10 Provide Zimbabwean Sign Language learning and promotion of the linguistic identity of the Deaf community.
3.9.11 A Zimbabwean braille code governed by a braille authority should be established in collaboration with the Zimbabwean blind community.
3.9.12 Provide training in braille, alternative script, augmentative and alternative modes, means and formats of communication, orientation and mobility skills, and peer support and mentorship.
3.9.13 The subject of disability, including awareness of the rights of persons with disabilities, should be embedded as a subject for consideration in the curriculum of all learners, from early childhood education through to higher education.
3.9.14 Continuing professional development on disability should be mandatory for staff, including qualified teachers and social workers.
3.9.15 A Disability Resource Center should be established at each educational institution to meet the needs of educators, learners and staff with disabilities.
3.9.16 Guidance and information for learners with disabilities, in relation to career paths, should be offered in inclusive career guidance services which should be established in all educational institutions.
3.9.17 Strive to ensure that, on the basis of merit, persons with disabilities receive at least 15% of scholarships, including under the Presidential Scholarship Scheme.
3.9.18 Persons with disabilities shall be allowed to apply for scholarships, including the Presidential Scholarship Scheme, at designated centers in the districts where they live, including in rural areas.
3.9.19 Strive to ensure that at least 15% of student teachers and social workers by enrollment include people with different types of disabilities.
3.9.20 Teacher training programs should include a module on the use of appropriate augmentative and alternative modes, means and formats of communication, inclusive educational techniques and materials to support persons with disabilities.
3.9.21 Ensure the employment of teachers and staff, including teachers and staff with disabilities, qualified in Zimbabwean Sign Language, at all levels of the education system.
3.9.22 Ensure the employment of Braille-qualified teachers and staff, including teachers and staff with disabilities, at all levels of the education system.
3.9.23 For the sake of confidentiality, disaggregated data on the training and employment of teachers and staff with disabilities should be submitted to the Department of Disability Affairs, Ministry of Civil Service, Labor and Welfare social, in November of each year.
3.9.24 Personal assistants of teachers with disabilities should be granted paid maternity leave instead of being forced to resign and reapply after maternity leave.
3.9.25 Personal assistants of teachers with disabilities should be treated in the same way as the lowest paid civil servants — they should receive the same allowances to which civil servants are entitled, including cost-of-living adjustment.
3.9.26 Vocational rehabilitation and training centers should provide start-up kits to persons with disabilities who successfully complete their courses to enable them to set up their own entrepreneurial project.
3.9.27 New vocational rehabilitation and training centers that include people with disabilities in all 10 provinces of Zimbabwe should be established, starting with Matabeleland North Province.
3.9.28 Existing and future educational institutions, including vocational rehabilitation training centres, should adopt the principle of universal design as defined in this NDP.
3.9.29 Vocational rehabilitation training centers should be run by people with interdisciplinary skills enabling them to respond effectively to the needs and concerns of people with disabilities.
3.9.30 A rigorous outreach program that includes people with disabilities and educates families and communities about the importance of enrolling children with disabilities in educational institutions should be designed and implemented.
3.9.31 A synergy of education and additional sectors including nutrition, health and social welfare should be established to improve the health and wellbeing of learners, educators and staff with disabilities.
3.9.32 Educational institutions should employ a full-time or part-time social worker who is trained in disability issues to respond to the rights, requirements and concerns of children, educators and staff with disabilities.
3.9.33 Educational institutions should endeavor to provide transportation for children with disabilities and children of parents with disabilities to enable them to get to school safely and on time.
3.9.34 Guidelines for the establishment of inclusive private early learning centres, primary, secondary, tertiary and vocational settings should be formulated and made public.
3.9.35 Educational institutions should forge strategic partnerships and links with employers to enable learners with disabilities to access employment opportunities upon completion of their learning programs on an equal footing with the others.
3.9.36 Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) students must be registered with the Disability Affairs Department of the Ministry of Civil Service, Labor and Welfare so that employers can cooperate with the department regarding employment issues for persons with disabilities. .
3.9.37 To ensure confidentiality, disaggregated data on learners, teachers and staff with disabilities should be submitted in November each year to the Department of Disability Affairs, Ministry of Civil Service, Labor and Welfare. Social Protection.
So what does all this mean?
Education is one of the most powerful tools for lifting people with disabilities out of poverty, as well as closing the gender gap for women and girls with disabilities. The National Disability Policy therefore guides equal opportunities, universal access and monitoring of quality standards of education, which are inclusive of persons with disabilities at all levels.
Dr Christine Peta is a disability, policy, international development and research expert who is the National Director of Disability Affairs in Zimbabwe — she can be contacted at: [email protected]