Education is a human right. Actually, every goal in The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development requires education to empower people with the knowledge, skills and values to live in dignity, build their lives and contribute to the development of their societies.
However, not many parents of persons with disabilities (PWDs) recognise this, especially in Zanzibar’s rural areas, because disability is one barrier to children getting an education.
Actual data from UNICEF (Education Budget Letter 2018) show that in Zanzibar 3 to 4 percent of the population between 0-19 years of age suffers from a physical and/or mental disability.
Children need support, for example, children from poor families don’t have access to educational materials, uniforms, shoes, all things which are very crucial to support them in schooling should be there.
According to the report dubbed Situation of Children and Young People with Disabilities in Zanzibar, jointly conducted by the government and UNICEF, there is still a big gap in the education sector between children with disabilities and those without disabilities.
For instance, out of an average of 14,000 people with disabilities, 60 percent are enrolled in school in 2021 of whom 36.2 percent are in rural areas, compared to 62.7 percent of children without disabilities.
Children with disabilities face barriers to inclusion in education due to shortages of teaching and learning materials, lack of appropriate physical infrastructure, and limited understanding of inclusive education.
These have resulted in a significant number of children and young people with disabilities remaining excluded from public and private schooling.
The report shows that 51 percent of schools are without an accessible toilet for pupils with physical disabilities or impaired vision while 23 percent of primary and secondary schools do not have hand washing facilities accessible to children with limited mobility or impaired vision.
To promote the rights and inclusion of children and young people with disabilities, the following measures should be done.
- Ratify the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Persons with
Disabilities (African Disability Protocol).
- Strengthen the Child Protection system to properly protect and respond to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of children with disabilities.
- Directly engage with children and young people with disabilities and include them in creating solutions.
- Improve collection and use of data disaggregated by disability, age, and sex.
- Conduct accessibility audits to improve infrastructure.
- Implement disability-inclusive and gender-sensitive policy and legal reviews using an intersectional approach.
- Develop awareness-raising and behaviour-change campaigns, and
- Strengthen inclusive, quality education at all levels.
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