Today, I couldn't help but recall a classmate who had dropped out of school in standard five. Not by choice, but because our school, like most public schools, did not provide an effective and specialized support and learning environment for students with disabilities. Looking at the situation now, not much has changed, disabled children especially from rural areas are still confined to their homes and denied access to quality education.
Children with disabilities are excluded from regular school programs. Most of them may start out in primary school but end up repeating the same classes for several years until they become bored and eventually drop out because higher classes fail to cater to their needs.
Our educational system does not take the provision of equal education to children with special needs or disabilities seriously. It continues to fail disabled children, from an early age, as such children with disabilities are given very little chance to succeed early on in school and in life . You know the system is designed to fail them when it fails to embrace diversity and inclusion.
On paper, children with disabilities are not supposed to face such kind of hindrances and discrimination. For example, Malawi recognizes the Hand Capped Persons Act which was enacted to make provision for the improvement of the care assistance and education of handicapper persons, the Disability Act which was enacted to make provision the prohibition of discrimination against persons with disabilities with respect to education, employment, training and more and, there are a whole lot more acts and laws put in place to ensure that people with disabilities have equal access to opportunities.
If our education system continues to represent and present a model of society that views people with disabilities as strange, dull, unworthy , continues to exclude them from daily affairs and denies them access to services like education; it reinforces a culture that disregards people with disabilities.
People with disabilities must be recognized during all the stages of their lives and not just on paper. We must ensure that the laws and acts which are put in place to serve, protect and cater to people with disabilities are practiced on the ground. if we wish them well then, we need to lay a solid and good foundation where they are offered the same opportunities as everybody else.
My pleas is that the ministry of education continuously looks for ways to improve the education sector to accommodate disabled children so that they are not left out.