Thousands of disabled children left behind

08 July 2020 | Education

Elizabeth Joseph

WINDHOEK

About 2 595 children with disabilities, aged between three and five, do not attend early childhood development (ECD) programmes in Namibia.

This was revealed by deputy minister for disability affairs, Alexia Manombe-Ncube, at the start of a three-day workshop organised by the United Nations Partnership to Promote the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNPRPD) project, which aims to strengthen integrated systems to promote access to services for people with disabilities in Namibia. “With the back-to-school attendance, results show that the proportion of children and persons aged five and above who have never attended school has decreased from 30.4% in 2001 to 28.9 in 2011,” Manombe-Ncube said.

The UNPRPD project timeframe spans from December 2019 to March 2021.

The workshop is centred on strengthening data collection systems that will inform planning, budget allocation and service delivery to promote the inclusion of people with disabilities under the coordination, as well as strengthening coordination mechanisms and including the participation of organisations representing the disabled. It also aims to identify children with disabilities at a very early stage in life and refer them for assessment, early interventions and access inclusive of all ECD programmes.



International instruments

According to Carlos Fernandez, the UN Namibia coordinator specialist, Namibia has been addressing the rights of people with disabilities through the ratification and implementation of various national, regional and international instruments for almost 30 years.

“All these instruments place an emphasis on ensuring that the rights of persons with disabilities, including children with disabilities, and those with other special needs, are met through the provision of all services required to ensure that they survive, thrive and equally contribute to development,” he said.

The forum came at an opportune time, as children and families with disabilities have voiced that they feel they have been forgotten and are not included when frameworks are designed to help lessen the country's burdens during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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