CHIEF Chinunda of the Chewa people in Chipangali district says majority Zambians with disabilities live in poverty and have proportionally lower literacy compared to persons without disabilities.
And Chipata district education board secretary Lina Kamanga says it is sad that some parents tend to hide their children with disabilities.
Speaking during the Elight Abilities organised inclusive education, capacity enhancement for teachers in Chipata on Wednesday, Chinunda who was represented by his advisor Kumandakuitana Tonga, said many societies were currently recognising the need to dismantle barriers making the physical environment more accessible.
“According to World Health Organisation estimates, about two million women and men in Zambia, or 15 per cent of the population, have a disability. A higher percentage of people with disabilities live in rural areas where access to basic services is limited,” he said. “The majority of Zambians with disabilities live in poverty and generally has proportionally low literacy levels compared to persons without disabilities. People with disabilities often resort to street begging as a means of survival.”
Chinunda said traditionally, people living with physical disabilities, sensory or mental impairments were thought of being under the spell of witchcraft, possessed by demons or as sinners being punished by God.
He said because of different beliefs about people living with disabilities, accessing quality and inclusive education had been a challenge for children with disabilities.
Chinunda said in its effort to support inclusive education in Chipata district, Elight Abilities secured US $100,000 in funding for the promotion of inclusive education for the period April 2020 to March 31, 2021.
And Kamanga, who was represented by District Education Standards Officer Rasford Muunga, noted that children were excluded from schools because of disability, race, language, religion, gender and poverty.
“Every child, however, has the right to be supported by their parents and community to grow, learn and develop in the early years and upon reaching school age, to go to school and be welcomed and included by teachers and peers alike. When all children, regardless of their differences, learn together everyone benefits as this is a cornerstone of inclusive education,” Kamanga said.
She commended Enlight Abilities for erecting a ramp at her office and many good works.