Disabled children have found hope at a special school in Zambia where they are being turned into productive citizens. Disabled
The Special School for Children born with special needs, situated at the country’s main referral hospital, the University Teaching Hospital (UTH), is not only providing special education for the children but skills to those who have intellectual challenges.
Dorothy Phiri, one of the teachers told Xinhua that society should be sensitized to realize that people born with disabilities could be productive and stop stigmatizing them.
“Some parents don’t accept having children born with disabilities and they usually hide them but we are encouraging them to bring them here,” she said.
She said children born with disabilities should be looked at as normal human beings and that they should not be stigmatized because of their condition.
Her happiness, she said, is to see the pupils being happy once they are at the school where they are cherished and appreciated following the neglect and the stigma they are subjected to in communities where they come from.
Joyce Mubanga-Nga’ndu, who is dealing with children with intellectual disability and teaching them skills, said children born with disabilities are able to be productive and engage in income generating activities if properly supported.
“In communities, children born with disabilities are not regarded much but here we are making them into productive people. As you can see, they are making all these things which are later sold and this will even help them once they leave this place because they will be able to engage in income generating activities,” she said.
The 16-plus class, comprises of disabled pupils aged from 16 and above who have intellectual disability and the school has decided to give them skills as a way of helping them become responsible citizens.
The school, which started in 1992, currently caters for 351 disable pupils and has 38 teachers. It caters for children with special needs such as those with hearing impairment, visual impairment, cerebral palsy as well as other disabilities which require special needs.
The school, which is under the government’s Ministry of Education, and whose theme is “Self-sufficiency Through Special Education Provision,” is catering for pupils from preschool to grade 10 ranging from 5 to 16 years.
However according to Ruth Chala, the school’s head teacher, the school is facing challenges, ranging from infrastructure to transportation of the children from their homes to the school.
She said most of the children are currently not attending classes following the breakdown of the school’s only bus and that only those pupils from families that are well off are attending classes.
“Our major challenge is transport following the breakdown of the only bus we had. And because of their condition, the pupils can’t use public transport, leaving many of them unable to attend. That is why we are crying for help,” she said.
Another challenge is lack of enough manpower to take care of the pupils since special education requires special attention to the pupils.
According to Chala, the ideal situation is that the teacher- pupil ratio should be one to five but added that the current situation has seen one teacher taking care of more pupils. Enditem

Source: Xinhua

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