'Physically-challenged teachers marginalised'

HARARE - Physically-challenged teachers have called on government to review the manner in which deserving employees are promoted which they say marginalises them as it does not ensure equity and inclusivity.

Education stakeholders protested during a workshop organised by the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) to discuss the challenges faced by teachers with disabilities saying teachers with disabilities were never promoted to influential positions even when they prove capable.

The teachers also complained that the communities they operate in do not treat them as equals with some even referring to them by their disability.

Roland Ndlovu, a visually-impaired teacher from Bulawayo, narrated how he was hounded out of his job by government after he became blind only to be reinstated as a temporary teacher.

“We call upon government not to pity us, but to help by providing us with the necessary tools to effectively discharge our mandate,” said Ndlovu.

“It is not fair that when I got blind, government discarded me and now they employ me on a temporary contract. There is need for society to appreciate that we are also humans and in need of better lives and opportunities”.

Raymond Majongwe, the PTUZ secretary general, called upon government to be proactive in facilitating the provision of essential tools to help circumvent the challenges posed by disability.

Majongwe encouraged the disabled teachers to fight society’s attitudinal biases by proving their abilities at work.

“Disability and inability are two different things which have no relationship whatsoever. Government should ensure that the necessary tools such as brail books, projectors, laptops and other necessities are availed to teachers with various disabilities,” said Majongwe.

The workshop was also attended by Education deputy minister, Lary Mavhima, who pledged to make a follow up on Ndlovu’s case and promised to have him engaged by government permanently.

“I am particularly touched by Ndlovu’s situation. I and the minister will personally look into the matter,” Mavhima promised.

Lazarus Dokora, the Education minister, in a speech read on his behalf by Mavhima, admitted that the essence of disability is attitudinal not physical and thanked the PTUZ for “the opportunity to listen to the concerns of the physically challenged”.

Dokora said government had a fundamental role to facilitate the provision of an enabling working environment not only to the physically challenged but to all citizens.

He said government prioritised education as evidenced by placing it on the social services and poverty eradication cluster in the economic blueprint ZimAsset.

“It is us as government who should provide the means by which people can reach their fullest potential,” said Dokora.

“I will be extremely satisfied to see you participate in the staff development programmes we are currently negotiating with various local institutions of higher learning.

“We cannot achieve success in global competitiveness without attending to performances issues surrounding teachers in general and those with disabilities in particular”.

Dokora called on the physically challenged educators to take up training in technical and science subjects which he said were key to national development.

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