Simbarashe Fenton M.
REDFCLIFF: Mafidhi Mnangagwa Primary School (MMPS) has stepped up efforts for community inclusivity with the Disability Advocacy Awareness Campaign.
Being the first in the district, MMPS administration staff, school children including learners with disabilities, members of the community and community leaders marched in solidarity with people with disabilities, advocating for inclusivity and urging those with such situations to come forward because the school provides the resources to cater for them.
“In our endeavor to encourage inclusive societies, the community of Redcliff has taken upon itself to walk towards inclusive community where all children including those living with disabilities are given equal access to education, equal participation and equal opportunities”. said Pastor Mukami of Apostolic Faith Mission(AFM), guest speaker during the initiative.
Mafidhi Mnangagwa Primary School prides itself as one of the few schools in Zimbabwe with an inclusive approach to education as it enrolls everyone including people with special. This initiative has created a better, friendly learning environment for 26 learners with disabilities. However, with the unavailability of enough technical resources the school has been facing challenges in enrolment and learning for learners with disabilities with store rooms being used as learning space for them.
Speaking on the sidelines of the march, former Ward 5 Councilor, Mr. P. Tshuma who joined the initiative and is a role model for the learners stated that educational institutions should be more inclusive to avoid detrimental consequences.
“Personally this is very important because I am disabled myself and most people are not aware of it and I do not want to be isolated, to be marginalised and at the end of the day we cannot shy away from what we are. For instance, Ruwa Rehabilitation School is one of the finest institutions in Zimbabwe where one can be rehabilitated, get a professional course.
“I have a National Certificate in Electrical Engineering from there but persons with disability are isolated there. Why is it that there is no inclusivity with the abled, let us say we have what we have here at Mafidhi done say at Kwekwe Polytechnic, it will allow us to produce professionals from the same better institutions and it will not create inferiority. It is psychological and i know this because I have been through the same road. I actually cancelled everything I had planned for today to be with these kids, I believe this will motivate them,” said Tshuma.
Through the Zimbabwean constitution, the government and its institutions is mandated to cater for individuals with disabilities and make sure that they have equal opportunities in respect of their rights. Chapter 1 Section 22.2 says, “The state and all its institutions and agencies of the government at every level must, within their limits of the resources available to them, assist persons with physical or mental disabilities to achieve their full potential and to minimize the disadvantages suffered by them.”
MMPS Deputy headmaster Mr. F.T Mudzingwa said that the school’s commitment in upholding the right to education to every child whether disabled or not, he assured the community that as teachers they have a responsibility to equip learners regardless of their situation at hand since the goal is to bring change in their lives.
“As MMPS Administration we saw it fit since we already have the resource units that cater for learners with disabilities, we were not doing enough to educate our community on the services that we are providing. Secondly there are parents in our community who have children at home with disabilities, we thought it is an important thing that we have this advocacy campaign so that we raise the consciousness of our community to bring those children to school irrespective of the disability since there are resources in our teachers at the school.
“We also want to engage stakeholders to come and assist us so that we built proper learning environment for them. Currently some are using store rooms for their lessons because there are limited resources on the ground and also that as a school we are short of classrooms and there are not happy with the kind of environment. We intend to make this event an annual event in anticipation that it will grow bigger and bigger,” said Mudzingwa.
Community members and parents of children with disabilities applauded the school’s initiative, its five-year plan which is set to commence next year and underscores that each and every learner should have equal access to knowledge, and advanced resources should be availed for them.
“This is important especially to my child. Today I am a happy parent as inclusion has helped him a lot. He has changed even his reasoning, he can now play with others well without harming them. I have realised that we should not keep them at home with the fear of the unknown.
“The school and teachers here are doing a great job. My hope is that they get more resources and help others because there are more in this community who have the same challenge we have,” said S. Luhana, a parent with a child in the special class at MMPS.