By Wezi Tjaronda
With the coming into force of the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities this month, a senior officer in the national disability movement has said Namibia should work hard to make education and training more inclusive.
Gerson Mutendere, Project Manager at the National Federation of People with Disabilities in Namibia (NFPDN) said education and training is limited due to the few centres that especially cater for the visually and hearing impaired.
The country has two schools in Windhoek and Ongwediva that cater for the hearing and visually impaired, which could not cater for everyone because some parents could not afford to send their children to either of the two centres.
Mutendere, who recently visited Eluwa Special School and other schools in the north said the set up in the education system for this group also makes the system inaccessible to people with disabilities.
“The time allocated to children who can hear and those who can’t see is not enough,” he added.
Mutendere said failure to make the system inclusive is tantamount to denying the children their right to education. The NFPDN will compile a report on the visit and present the report to President Hifikepunye Pohamba for possible action, he said.
The Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities is an international commitment that countries made to come up with programmes that target people with disabilities for them to be on equal footing with the rest.
People with disabilities the world over are usually prevented from receiving an education, getting jobs even when they are well qualified, accessing information, obtaining proper health care, getting around and are discriminated against.
The convention says due to discriminatory practices, persons with disabilities tend to live in the shadows and margins of society, which needed a universal, legally binding standard to ensure that the rights of persons with disabilities are guaranteed everywhere.
Namibia adopted the Convention for ratification in September 2007.
The Disability Advisory Unit in the Prime Minister’s Office has planned to hold awareness meetings throughout Namibia to inform people with disabilities on the convention.
Senior Control Officer in the Unit, Oscar Andima, said the unit would also sensitise other ministries and organisations to cater for the different needs of people with disabilities when developing different programme and interventions.
“We want to make sure that people with disabilities are within the core services that different ministries and stakeholders offer,” said Andima.
Different ministries have different requirements such as mainstreaming people with disabilities in schools inclusive of Ministry of Education, making buildings accessible and ensuring that people with disabilities have access to information for the Ministries of Works and Transport Information and Communication Technology respectively.
“All ministries offering services should ensure that they include people with disabilities in one way or the other,” he added.
The unit also coordinated the African Decade for Persons with Disabilities, which African countries are obliged to implement, and also advises the government on policy issues affecting people with disabilities.