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More special needs children attending classes in Phalombe

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By Emmanuel Chirwa:

ZUNGU—There is great improvement

The number of children with various forms of disabilities now attending classes in the areas of Traditional Authorities Nazombe and Chiwalo, has risen from 150 in 2016 to 800 this year due to the Inclusive Education Project being implemented by the Catholic Development Commission (Cadecom).

Cadecom Secretary under Blantyre Diocese, Mandinda Zungu made the remarks on Friday in Phalombe District when concluding inclusive education training for primary school teachers at Mambala Primary School.

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She said Cadecom came in with the project having noticed the district had high number of children with disabilities who were not going to school.

Zungu attributes the problem to lack of parents’ awareness on importance of sending children to school and teachers inexperience in integrating learners with special needs in class.

“Since we started the project, there has been a tremendous increase in the number of children with various forms of disabilities attending classes. This is so because through the project, we have managed to train at least 300 primary school teachers in inclusive education. This makes parents send their children to school,” she said.

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Specialist teacher for learners with hearing impairment, Andrew Chamgwera, who was also one of the facilitators during the training, concurred with Zungu, saying a lot of teachers lack capacity to integrate students with special needs in their classrooms.

“Such being the case, even when those learners are attending classes, they miss out as concentration is put on the able-bodied learners. We are happy that the training is addressing the problem,” he said.

Evelyn Chimpeni, a teacher at Siyamanda Primary School in Nazombe Zone described the training as an eye opener.

“I teach Standard Three and I have 113 learners in my class and one of them is a special needs child. Previously, I was not giving much attention to the child and it took long to assist her. But with the training, I am now confident to assist every learner,” she said.

The project, which started in 2016, also focuses on preventive measures to some diseases or cases leading to mental dysfunction in children especially during the post natal period.

The project is funded by OSISA and is expected to phase out in 2020.

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