Inclusive education scores badly

Stigma and discrimination against children with disabilities hamper efforts to give them equal access to education.

08 August 2017 | Education

High levels of stigma and discrimination as well as false myths surrounding people and children living with disabilities continue to thwart efforts to improve inclusive education for all.

The results of a rapid analysis conducted by the education ministry and Unicef recently paints a bleak picture about the myriad of challenges many children living with disabilities in Namibia face, which often result in limited access to education, if at all.

In a powerful poem delivered by a learner from the School for the Visually Impaired at last week's State of Education address, the student underlined that a disability is not an inability, and told the crowd: “Open the classroom, let me in, it is time to begin.”

Underlining the vast barriers to education faced by too many children with disabilities, education minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa called on parents, the community and the country as a whole to support interventions aimed at demystifying disabilities and so help ensure equal rights for all.

The minister pointed out that that despite a number of national protocols, laws and policies aimed at ensuring inclusive education and the wellbeing of affected learners, “children with disabilities and special education needs continue to face numerous challenges.”

National disability statistics from 2011 found that at close to 50 000 more persons with disabilities had left school than remained.

More than 27 000 never attended school.

The proportion of persons with disabilities aged 5 years and above that never attended school was at 83% in rural areas compared to 17.9% in urban areas.

A mere 877 children with disabilities had attended pre-primary school, Hanse-Himarwa said.

Research also found that around 87% of children with disabilities aged 0 to 4 have never attended early childhood development (ECD) programmes.

ECD and pre-primary education are critical tools in helping children achieve long-term successes, as the programme contributes to reducing high failure rates, school dropout rates, reduces interpersonal violence and learner pregnancies in later life.

The Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) report on disability issued last year highlighted a worrying trend.

“The number of children with disabilities aged 0-4 that are not attending ECD programmes has increased from 3 359 (2001) to 5 135 (2011). This situation is worrisome and calls for policy interventions to address the issue of children with disabilities that are not attending ECD in Namibia.”

The NSA noted that with regard to the number of children with disabilities aged 3-5 years, 2 595 were not attending ECD programmes in Namibia by 2011.

Enrolment in school had improved with the proportion of persons aged 5 years and above that never attended school decreasing from 30.4% (2001) to 28.9% (2011).

The report also found that the proportion of persons with disabilities who have no formal education was higher in rural areas (82.3%) than in urban areas (17.7%).

The NSA report found that “the highest proportion of disabled persons with no formal education were blind and visually impaired. The highest proportion of females that were disabled were visually impaired, while for males physical impairment of lower limbs was the common disability.”

Among the issues the ministry's rapid assessment identified as one of the worst challenges for disabled youth, is the existence of high levels of stigma and discrimination against children with disabilities.

In many parts of Namibia, disability is still viewed as a curse and children with disabilities are still hidden from society in most cases.

The study also underlined that a lack of disability knowledge and practical skills among teachers, school principals and hostel staff was a major problem.

This lack of skills training and awareness led to learners feeling frustrated, stressed, overwhelmed and “wanting to give up and of feeling unsupported,” the study found.

Another longstanding issue that affects all people with disabilities in Namibia is the lack of disability friendly infrastructure, in this case in and around schools, classrooms and in hostels.

Moreover, despite being illegal, the issue of corporal punishment and bullying of children continues to undermine the country's push, if not always at maximum, to create optimal education environments for students with disabilities.

Another challenge is an overall lack of understanding of different disabilities “especially those relating to invisible disabilities such as learning and psychosocial disabilities,” Hanse-Himarwa said.

The ministry has developed a number of strategies to address the lack of capacity among teachers and principals, the minister said.

Through the Integrated School Health Programme, the ministry will also partner with the health ministry to address early identifications, assessments and interventions of disabilities among children and learners.

Advocacy interventions will also be conducted, she said.


Similar News


WAP vier Kersfees saam met jong pasiënte

1 day - 12 December 2017 | Education

Op 18 November het die 2018-leerlingraad van die Windhoek Afrikaanse Privaatskool (WAP) geskenke gaan aflewer vir al die kinders en babas in die Windhoek Sentrale...

Surviving your first day back at the office

5 days ago - 08 December 2017 | Education

Ah, vacation. You just got back from a week of complete relaxation, when the only thing on your to-do list was to not do a...

Bank Windhoek appoints new branch manager at Outapi Branch

5 days ago - 08 December 2017 | Education

Bank Windhoek is proud to announce the appointment of Jaqualene (Yvonne) Beukes as its new branch manager it the recently upgraded Outapi Branch with effect...

Essence of Namibia captured in skincare

5 days ago - 08 December 2017 | Education

Jana Hougaard What was your inspiration to start the brand Mbiri?I have always had a passion for Namibia and its plants and people. My...

Behind the scenes of a full time artist

5 days ago - 08 December 2017 | Education

Jana HougaardElke had a love for art ever since she was young. She was part of a crafty friends group when she was little and...

Ministry studies private school subsidies

1 week ago - 05 December 2017 | Education

The education ministry has assured private schools that it does not intend to stop a charitable aid programme that allows less privileged children to attend...

The first of its kind

1 week ago - 05 December 2017 | Education

Octavia TsibesMr. Peter Binz, chairman of the executive committee of the Benedictine Monatery Disentis and his wife, Imedla, closed the panel on November 16, 2017....

The way forward

1 week ago - 05 December 2017 | Education

Luca MilanesiIt’s a Friday night in Windhoek, and the city is lit up by youths looking to have some fun in the city. Yet by...

NamStarter continues to empower

1 week ago - 05 December 2017 | Education

Tunohole Mungoba NamStarter hosted a follow up campaign to brainstorm ways to create more traffic on their website and how to attract supporters by creating...

Young entrepreneurs awarded

1 week ago - 05 December 2017 | Education

Tunohole MungobaThe Namibia Association of Norway saw the first Namibia Youth Entrepreneurship award ceremony come together and two young entrepreneurs were awarded with a cash...

Latest News

Namibia drops among world's good...

15 hours ago | Society

Namibia has slipped four places to 88th on a global index that ranks the countries that contribute to the greater good of humanity.Namibia's global contribution...

MD claims witch-hunt

15 hours ago | Government

The board of the National Petroleum Corporation of Namibia (Namcor) has terminated the contracts of nine non-permanent staff at the parastatal in an alleged standoff...

Farmers face phosphate shortage

15 hours ago | Agriculture

Namibia will experience a shortage of phosphate products used as supplements for animal feed while the South African producer of phosphate and phosphoric acid is...

N$650 000 for garden project

15 hours ago | Agriculture

NAMPAFarmers and community members from Hukus in the Aminuis area of the Omaheke Region on Thursday received a donation of N$650 000 for the development...

IFRS 16: The new leases...

15 hours ago | Business

STAFF REPORTER - The new leases standard features a single lease accounting model for lessees, with a host of different transition options...

NC convenes urgent session

15 hours ago | Government

The National Council will convene an urgent session next week to review three bills. A statement issued by the secretary to the National Council,...

Mass memorials for crash victims

15 hours ago | Accidents

A number of memorials will be held by relatives of the ten people who died in a head-on collision less than two weeks ago. ...

Policeman, farmworker remain missing

15 hours ago | Crime

There is still no trace of two missing persons in the Otjozondjupa Region - a 55-year-old police officer who went missing at Tsumkwe in June...

Morocco announces car industry deals...

15 hours ago | Business

NAMPA/REUTERSMorocco said on Monday it had signed deals for 26 auto industry projects worth a total of €1.23 billion as it seeks to build its...

Load More