Early Disability Detection Vital

MORE than 500 million people in the world are disabled as a consequence of mental, physical or sensory impairment.

Too often their lives are handicapped by physical and social barriers in society which hamper their full participation in day-to-day societal activities.

Because of this, millions of children and adults in all parts of the world often face a life that is segregated and debased.

Though they live with such impairment, these people are entitled to the same rights as all other human beings and to equal life opportunities.

To safeguard their lives from this humiliation, Community Based Rehabilitation programme has become an important component in ensuring that persons living with disabilities in the community have improved lives and not segregated against or debased.

Rehabilitation in this sense refers to help that comes to persons living with disabilities, in an effort to have them live a normal life despite the disability and for this rehabilitation to formalise their lives to levels of acceptance, it needs not be forced upon a person living with disabilities to own the process of rehabilitation.

It has, therefore, become incumbent upon the rehabilitation facilitators to focus on the ability of the person that is living with disabilities whose integrity and dignity must be respected, and not place focus on their disabilities.

Zambia Open University regional manager Sylvester Kanyanta says education is a right and that people living with disabilities should go to school so that they can enjoy this right.

At least 10 per cent of children in the world live with various disabilities.

However, despite their condition, these children have the same right to education as non-disabled persons and require active intervention and specialised or inclusive services.

But most children living with disabilities in developing countries receive neither specialised services nor compulsory education.

The Ministry of Community Development, Mother and Child Health, in partnership with line ministries like health and education is spearheading a fully-fledged CBNR programme in association with Norway-based disabled people organisation (NAD and NFU).

Mr Kanyanta says it is important, therefore, for persons living with disabilities to ensure they go through formal or informal education so that their lives can be enhanced.

“Education of children is far more cardinal, as children living with disabilities are sensitive to their psychosocial and physiological needs,” he says, adding that formal education can, therefore, be gotten from the schools and that the teachers should be given methodologies of how to teach children living with disabilities, whose normal development and maturing process needs maximum attention.

However, great variations from some countries with a high educational level for disabled persons to countries where such facilities are limited or non-existent still appear in society.

There is a lack in existing knowledge of the potential of disabled persons and often times, there is no legislation which deals with their needs and the shortage of teaching staff and facilities.

In many countries so far, disabled persons have not benefitted from life-long education.

Mr Kanyanta says inclusion of people living with disabilities should start at an early stage in life and urges Government to ensure the numbers of schools that are able to enrol people with disabilities are increased.

He notes that inclusion should not just be a peg as the people living with disabilities should participate in everyday life.

The regional manager wonders why so many primary schools in the country are not able to accept deaf or children that are disabled, emphasising that once the children get some training they would be able to get any job of their choice.

“If the children are not educated, how will they be able to work, marry or live in better homes without an income,” he asks.

Teacher in charge at Cheshire Homes, Evelyn Kazoka Malumbe notes that early detection is vital for rehabilitation as it helps to rehabilitate the person with disability.

Malumbe adds that the correction and management of a disability is cardinal if they detect it early, saying if the detect is early by the time the child reaches grade 12 the person would be fully rehabilitated and be able to live a better life in the community.

Malumbe says as a way of rehabilitating the children living with disabilities Cheshire Homes is encouraging young people to speak out through a programme known as young voices.

“Altogether, Livingstone district has seven school based special education needs units, Cheshire homes helps people with assistive devices,” she says emphasising the need to have more teachers trained in special education explaining that disability should be main-streamed in the different sectors of society.

Even though significant aances in teaching techniques and important innovative developments have taken place in the field of special or inclusive education, much more can be achieved in the education of disabled persons, yet the progress is mostly limited to a few countries and in only a few urban centres.

These aances concern early detection, assessment and intervention, special education programmes in a variety of settings, with many disabled children able to participate in a regular school setting, with others requiring very intensive specialised programmes.

Kanyanta says the persons that are living with disabilities need better lives.

He wonders how many people, who are in leadership positions, have aocated for children with disabilities so that they can earn some education.

He calls on the people to ensure that they use the community-based rehabilitation strategy to enlighten the people on the importance of educating society on the rights of people living with disabilities.

He further notes that when the people are educated they will be able to participate in everyday life and thus be able to engage in self-aocacy.

“Once the people living with disabilities are educated they will be able to participate in national issues like national budget planning and voting,” he says.

Kanyanta further challenges the ministry of education to be proactive so that the education sector can ensure that issues to do with disabilities take centre stage.

“The ministry of education should be compelled to ensure it takes special interest in the people that are living with disabilities,” urging the ministry to train more people in special education so that the children are able to go to the nearest schools possible.

Many persons with disabilities are denied employment or given only menial and poorly remunerated jobs.

This is true even though it can be demonstrated with proper assessment, training and placement, yet the great majority of disabled persons can perform a large range of tasks in accordance with prevailing work norms.

In times of unemployment and economic distress, disabled persons are usually the first to be discharged and the last to be hired.

Kanyanta says once the children have been educated they will be able to get good jobs as every human being has a right to employment regardless of their disabilities.

“The people that are living with disabilities, once trained, will be in the labour market,” he said.

If they are employed, they will have social protection and better lives will be guaranteed.

The lack of education, however, is a limitation for them as it means more employment which also means the abuse of their rights.

In helping disabled persons, every effort needs to be made in keeping their families together, to enable them live in their own communities and support family and community groups who are working with this objective.

These rehabilitation services are aimed at making it possible for disabled persons to take part in designing and organising the services that they and their families consider necessary.

Persons with disabilities, therefore, are entitled to enjoy all the rights and freedoms set out in the bill of rights and have the right to education and facilities that are integrated into society as a whole to the extent compatible with their interests.

The right education is vital to them as it helps them upgrade their lives.

Source : The Times of Zambia

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