Source: ED meets teachers with special needs | The Herald July 24, 2019
Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
President Mnangagwa yesterday met with representatives of teachers with special needs to have an appreciation of their plight in the discharge of their duties.
The meeting was held at the initiation of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) who raised several challenges teachers with disability are facing.
In an interview after the meeting at the President’s Munhumutapa offices, PTUZ secretary for teachers with disabilities Mr Abiot Moyo described their meeting with the President as fruitful and productive.
“We had a positive, fruitful and productive engagement with the President. The meeting was held at our request.
“The issues that we raised are transport, visual impairment, albinism and wheelchairs among others. Other issues related to assistance on allowances that are taking long to be paid. The President directed that the Public Service Commission (PSC) looks into it,” said Mr Moyo.
He said other issues related to the disability grant which they implored Government to introduce given the challenges teachers with disabilities face everyday.
Mr Moyo said the President pledged to look into their plight together with relevant ministries and Government departments.
A written paper was also submitted to President Mnangagwa detailing concerns from teachers with disabilities.
“There should be a meaningful disability grant. Currently our members have a problem that they incur extra costs when travelling. Some are accompanied by helpers who themselves have to pay fares when accompanying the disabled member,” reads the paper.
“The law should make it mandatory for private and public facilities accessed by members of the public to be disabled-friendly. Currently there is only a moral, not legal obligation on the owners of public buildings to make sure they are accessible to all including the disabled.”
The teachers also felt that Government was not sensitive enough on the deployment of teachers with disabilities.
“There is no deployment policy for these teachers to be deployed to schools which suit their condition. In the end one may argue that some officers are deliberately setting up the teacher to fail to deliver services. They then blame the issue on the disability of the teacher,” said the teachers.
“Due to low salaries, most teachers have had to resort to moonlighting, that is doing other jobs for payment in their spare time. This is difficult for teachers living with disabilities. We have no wish to moonlight, but we request that the Government should pay us enough.”
On visually impaired teachers, President Mnangagwa was told that such educators were not provided with adequate equipment.
“A visually impaired teacher is forced to provide a Braille scheme at his own cost, and then prepare a print version so that the headmaster can see it. To be effective in the classroom, that teacher needs a laptop and projector so that what he or she will be teaching is visualised by the learners. There is need for Braille paper and brailling machines. Currently schools do not provide for us, and we have to part with our salaries to do that,” they said.
They also bemoaned the cost of wheelchairs which they said was beyond the reach of teachers.
“Those without limbs in some cases need useful and user friendly artificial limbs.
“These are generally expensive and difficult to procure for the teacher living with disabilities,” they said.
It was the view of the teachers with disability that they be appointed to positions of authority in the hierarchy of the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education.
“We have many members who are qualified and therefore deserve to be appointed. Promotion of teachers with disabilities are mainly positive in certain provinces like Masvingo where there are many teachers living with disabilities being promoted,” they said.