Early childhood education in Zambia: inclusion of children with disabilities
Ndhlovu Danie, Muzata Kenneth Kapalu, Chipindi Janet Serenje & Mtonga, Thomas
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Inclusion of children with disabilities in early childhood education in Zambian schools has great benefits to children themselves, their families and the nation but these children seem to be neglected. They are often overlooked in mainstream programmes and services designed to provide early education. They also do not receive the specific supports required to meet their rights and needs. Children with disabilities and their families are confronted by barriers including inadequate legislation and policies, negative attitudes, inadequate services, and lack of accessible environments. If children with disabilities and their families are not provided with timely and appropriate early education and support, their difficulties can become more severe and resulting into negative lifetime consequences, increased poverty and profound exclusion. By 2013, Zambia had more than 133,000 children with disabilities who were out of school despite being of school age. The majority of these children were below the age of eight. These children need early education. This paper therefore, emanates from the knowledge gap about why 133,000 children with disabilities are out of school despite being of school age. It discusses early childhood education in Zambia in relation to; (i) benefits of early childhood education to children with disabilities and (ii) inclusiveness of schools for early childhood education in Zambia. As regards benefits of early childhood education in Zambia, children that are exposed to early childhood education perform fairly well and better than those who had no opportunity for the preschool learning. In terms of inclusiveness of schools for early childhood education in Zambia, Despite government of the Republic of Zambia’s effort and implementation of early childhood education, children with disabilities were not visible or catered for in any of the developments, very little if anything was happening to ensure that the children with disabilities acquire early education and gain or benefit the way able bodied children do. This inability to support such children can be seen from several factors. For instance, in the budgets made by government towards early education in 2012 and 2013 financial years, there was no mention of early education for children with disabilities. Among the teachers recruited, there was no teacher with specific training towards children with disabilities. Even teachers for ordinary preschool children have been deployed in other classes rather than preschool. In addition, most of the schools have no materials that could be used for early education in general and specifically for children with disabilities. This sad situation only leaves to show that most of the schools that were newly established as providers of early childhood education, teachers and administrators had not been prepared for the program. The authors believe that if children with disabilities are given early education, they can develop cognitively, socially and physically to the betterment of their wellbeing and society. The paper therefore, recommends that deliberate efforts by schools to include learners with disabilities in early education should be encouraged as its benefits to children with disabilities; their families and the nation are immense.
CitationNdhlovu, D.; Muzata K K, Chipindi, J.S. & Mtonga, T (2016). Early childhood education in Zambia: inclusion of children with disabilities. International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research and Development, Vol 3, (8) PP 126-132.
International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research and Development
Inclusive education--Study and Teaching--Zambia
early childhood education