At least 126 learners with disabilities from 42 primary schools under Mzuzu Diocese of the Catholic Church have dropped out of school due to stigma and discrimination.
The 126 are part of over 800 learners with disabilities in the 42 schools that are also in need of support to access quality education.
Deputy Director of Social Development for Mzuzu Diocese, Isaac Cheke Ziba, has described the situation as worrisome, saying on average, three learners in each of the 42 schools have stopped going to school.
Ziba, who is also the Education Coordinator for the Diocese of Mzuzu, said disability is not inability, hence the need for concerted efforts to improve the situation.
He made the remarks at Juti Primary School in Kasungu District at the end of a disability screening exercise of all 42 schools as part of a three-year ‘School Access and Governance Improvement’ project supported by Misean Cara from Ireland.
“Now we think if 42 schools can give us more than 800 learners that have got different difficulties, what about the whole country?
This problem must be huge and we cannot afford to ignore it. We are calling on the government to make sure that learners with disabilities are given attention,” Ziba said.
Meanwhile, Head teacher for Juti Primary School, Isaac Kasote, has hailed the initiative by Mzuzu Diocese to support learners with disabilities, saying it will empower them to access education.
During the disability screening exercise, health experts from African Bible College, Mental Health and Mzuzu Central Hospital conducted an assessment on the degree of ear health and hearing issues, physical and mental health and visual impairment.