Activists have called upon the government to train more teachers for children with disabilities in order to ease their access to education.
The call was made during an event that launched the disability week, which started on November 22 at G.S Institute Filippo Smaldone in Nyamirambo.
The event was held in line with the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which is celebrated every year on December 3. This year, the day is to be celebrated under the theme “Transformative Solutions for inclusive development.”
Without divulging statistics, Emmanuel Ndayisaba, the Executive Secretary of the National Council of Persons with Disabilities (NCPD), there are very few teachers with skills for teaching children with special needs, and this makes their education not only hard to access but also quite expensive.
He also said some schools that cater for children with special needs are expensive and parents can’t afford them, something he said needs addressing.
“There is a school that we visited and the school fee was Rwf700,000. When we asked why it was that much, the school management said they had taken the fees down from Rwf1,000,000 to make it easy for the parents,” he said.
Sister Marie Jean Uwayisaba, a head teacher, said that inclusive education will help achieve inclusive development, adding that students help each other in school, which means they will be able to help each other even in the workplace.
“Inclusive schools help disabled students build their self-esteem. It helps students have team work and help each other, it also makes non-disabled students learn sign languages which can help solve the problem of communication,” Uwayisaba said.
“One of the challenges we face is the scarcity of teachers, we encourage our students here to work hard, come back here and teach,” she added.
Yves Dushimimana, an English teacher, said that disabled students in class sometimes stay silent due to lack of confidence, but when they are helped they can be very active in class.
Dushimimana said that sign language needs to be taught extensively to address communication barriers.
In an interview with The New Times, Angelique Nyiraminani, a mother of a child living with disability, lauds the idea of inclusive education, but also encourages parents to not limit their children’s potential just because they are disabled.
“They should rather support them and help them, be it in education, growing their passions and talents,” she said.