An investigation into the re-entry of learners with disabilities in selected Schools in Lusaka Province, Zambia

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Fulawulu, Lumbwe Lwiza
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The purpose of the study was to investigate why the learners with disabilities did not re-enter school after falling pregnant and giving birth. The study was conducted in selected schools with special education units in Lusaka Province, Zambia. The study employed the descriptive survey research design which mainly involved qualitative methods. Sample included one MESVTEE official, ten head teachers, ten parents, thirty learners with disabilities and fifty teachers who were purposively and randomly sampled to participate in the study. Data were collected using semi structured interview guides, questionnaires and Focus Group Discussion guides. Quantitative data was analysed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) to generate frequencies, graphs and percentages while qualitative data were analysed thematically. The study revealed that learners with disabilities were not asexual as perceived by some authors. They engage in sex and fell pregnant just like their ordinary peers. When granted maternity leave or left school on their own, they did not report back to school. The reasons for not re-entering school were: inconsistence in the implementation of the re-entry policy by the school authorities, lack of guidance and counseling services, stigmatization and discrimination by peers and teachers. Furthermore, threatened health and social welfare, burden of extra responsibilities of pregnancy and rearing of a baby, negative attitude by parents, teachers and peers towards learners with disabilities who fell pregnant, poor health of babies, poverty, trauma as a result of unwanted sex and inadequate information about the re-entry policy were among the reasons for learners with disabilities’ failure to re-enter school after giving birth. Based on the findings, the study recommended that MESVTEE should involve parents of children with disabilities as a way of ensuring that the children re-enter school after giving birth. Further, MESVTEE should strengthen sensitisation and monitoring of the implementation of the re-entry policy. Schools should also sensitise learners on the re-entry policy. MESVTEE should aggregate data to show specific number of learners with disabilities who fall pregnant yearly and why they do not re-enter school.
Children with disabilities-Education-Lusaka, Zambia , Special Education-Study and Teaching-Lusaka, Zambia