Despite being lauded for pumping a lot of money into the education sector more than its peers, the government up to now has not as yet come up with a stand alone budget for disabled students who need specialised material in order to compete with their “mainstream” peers.
This was admitted by the ministry at a panel discussion organised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) which was questioning how inclusive the education system in Namibia is.
“It’s high time that we embrace more on educating the children from all angles including the children with disabilities. We are trying by all means to ensure that these disabled children are catered for but in terms of a dedicated budget there is no budget to say that this budget is geared towards the implementation of these specific learners,” said a ministerial representative.
Currently, the budgetary needs of these children are mainstreamed within the entire ministerial budget which has brought challenges since the needs of the disabled differ sharply with those that are abled.
The Villager carried out investigations last year on a Windhoek school with disabled students and discovered that they grapple with insufficient and often outdated brail-equipment.
By the time of the facility tour, staff at the school pointed out that they needed special software which was expensive and appealed for a stand alone budget to meet their special needs.
This is in line with the ministry having launched a sector policy on inclusive education in 2013 to take care of resource schools.
“Discussions around it (budget) are on the table. It’s something that is doable,” added the representative hinting that corporates had pledged to support inclusive education.
Also speaking on the topic of inclusivity, Pupkewitz Foundation chief executive director, Meryl Barry said, “It seems to me that being physically or mentally challenged is mutually exclusive and personally it seems that the mentally challenged people should be separate to the physically challenged.”
Programmes Quality Assurance director in the education ministry, Edda Bohn said that the ministry has coughed out close to N$2million in the previous financial year exclusively on children with special education needs.
“We are committed to expand this expenditure in this year to become more relevant, more modern equipment will be purchased to respond to their needs,” she said.
On the other hand, Chief of Education at UNICEF, Gerrit Maritz pointed out that children with disabilities were more prone to sexual exploitation and called for the re-strengthening of teacher-accountability.