BY STEVE EPHRAEM
ORGANISATIONS for Persons with Disabilities (OPDs) in Manicaland Province have recommended that the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education should introduce Sign Language and Braille as a subject from primary school level.
This came out during a disability inclusion interface that was held on 8 and 9 August 2023 at Holiday Inn Mutare. The event was coordinated by a Non-Governmental Organisation named Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative (REPSSI).
The organisation coordinates disability inclusion activities under an initiative named Inclusive Communities Project.
One objective of the interface was that OPDs in the province should understand what the Government is doing on disability inclusivity so that the organisations can align their work with Government policy.
Also, the workshop intended to help OPDs get answers from Government departments so that they will help disseminate information back to their communities on government programmes such as Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1).
Delegates, therefore challenged the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to see that Sign Language and the provision of Braille books be done from primary school level. They also asked that teachers be trained in inclusivity of children with impairments.
In response, an official from the ministry’s provincial offices indicated that the Government had already introduced modalities that cater for the impairment gap.
“The ministry has introduced a department which is called Learner Welfare Services, School Psychological Services and Special Need Education Department (LEPS). The department focuses on enabling all pupils to access all the educational facilities on offer to achieve their individual best through a range of support services.
“This gap is addressed through the following three pillars, Learner Welfare, Psychological Services and Special Needs Education. Under this arrangement, there is provision of psycho-educational assessment and intervention services to schools, including programme monitoring and evaluation.
“This include overall coordination of the remedial, speech, language and communication programme to ensure optimum learning outcomes for all and also spearheading the carrying out of school-based screening for the early identification and programmatic support of learners with unmet psycho-educational support needs,” he said.
He further indicated that the programme shall be decentralised to every school in due course, with the availabilities of more resources.