Training community educators on disability inclusion

Posted on: Friday, 28th May, 2021
A Sign Language Facilitator demonstrating during a training session.

Teenage girls with disabilities in Zimbabwe are among those least likely to complete their education – and gaps in training for teachers in how to include them in learning activities can contribute to their exclusion.

Together with our consortia partners, including Plan International and the Open University, we’ve been training Community Educators in Zimbabwe on how to support learners with disabilities as part of the Supporting Adolescent Girls’ Education (SAGE) programme, which is funded by UK aid through the Girls’ Education Challenge (GEC). These are volunteers with formal experience in teaching, such as retired teachers and newly qualified teachers awaiting roles in formal schools.

The SAGE programme creates welcoming community-based learning hubs where adolescent girls who have not been attending school, including girls with disabilities, can learn basic literacy and numeracy skills, interact with each other and participate in a life skills programme which will mobilise them to become Champions of Girls’ Education in their communities to aid the adoption of more positive gender attitudes

The training, which took place in December 2020, equipped Community Educators from the Community Learning Hubs with the necessary skills and capacity to assist children with disabilities, including knowledge relevant to their diverse and marginalised communities. Trainers included experienced sign language interpreters, specialist lecturers and caregivers, and specialists from the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education and three local teacher training colleges, as part of a collaborative and innovative approach.

Community Educators attending training in Mutare

“The training was an eye opener to me. I used to wonder if the methodology I have been employing in engaging learners with disability was correct but after the training I realized how easy and interesting it was to communicate with girls using the sign language alphabet, handling cases of hypersensitivity and intellectual disability.” – Community Educator from Hatcliff district.

“Interaction with the deaf was made easier. I've developed keen interest in communicating with the deaf. Previously I used to shy away. The deaf community needs our support hence as an educator I have to develop my skills in order to mix and mingle with them regardless of their disability.” – Community educator from Epworth district

Bothwell Munjoma, Champion of Girls’ Education facilitator from Mutasa District, said that the training helped him become more aware of the many different types of non-discriminatory and appropriate language to use. “I come from a society where certain discriminatory language towards those with a disability is normalised. This training has added more terms to my dictionary, in terms of the language I can use when interacting with those with a disability,” he said. 

A young mother during a learning session in Mutoko District.

The SAGE programme is currently assisting 226 girls and adolescent mothers with a disability. Globally, disability is one of the most significant barriers to education. Through its inclusive education efforts, the SAGE programme is working tirelessly to remove this barrier and help girls from Zimbabwe’s marginalised communities to access a sustainable, inclusive, and quality education. Some of the efforts include reducing walking distances through the establishment of learning hubs in the communities, construction of disability-friendly infrastructure, ensuring that teaching materials address the needs of every girl, referring girls to government and wider support services and ensuring that hub volunteers and staff are equipped with the essential teaching and learning skills that include girls with disabilities.

Leaving no girl behind in her learning journey and enabling girls with disabilities to reach their full potential requires an inclusive, collaborative and innovative approach. SAGE is committed to ensuring this.

Images: 1st – A Sign Language Facilitator demonstrating during a training session. 2nd – Community Educators attending training in Mutare District. 3rd – A young mother during a learning session in Mutoko District.



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