The Civil Society Education Coalition (CSEC) has called on Members of Parliament and government to show commitment towards inclusive education for people with special needs.
CSEC Executive Director Benedicto Kondowe made the remarks on Thursday during a parliamentary engagement on inclusive education at Golden Peacock Hotel in Lilongwe.
Kondowe said it is worrisome that all organisations and the government have been leaving behind the issue of inclusive education which is supposed to be beneficial to people with disability.
Kondowe pointed out the establishment of only Montfort Teaching College for teachers of special needs students as a clear indication of how the country values special needs education despite making pledges to support the people to achieve their goals and live a standard life.
He said people with disabilities face challenges to get enrolled in schools or institutions of higher learning.
“For instance at university level, only UNIMA through Chancellor College is the only one that admits students with disabilities which means limited access to tertiary education, apart from other challenges such as inadequate teaching and learning materials, teachers for the students since there is no tangible plan for the teachers at secondary and tertiary education and among others,” he explained.
Kondowe added that although government allocated K435 million for basic materials for students with disabilities, the money is not enough for 146,046 students.
Kondowe also noted that most special needs learners face difficulties during exams (both national and school exams) which is also contributing to high school drop outs.
On his part, parliamentary chairperson for budget and finance Rhino Chiphiko said it is shameful that Malawi continues to treat people with disabilities as outsiders and beggars as evidenced by the challenges they face to acquire education.
Member of Parliament for Lilongwe City South West revealed that in 2003 government did not allocate any funds for students with special needs which shows how the country consider this issue of special needs education .
In his remarks, parliamentary chairperson for education Elias Chakwera pledged to put to task government so that it fulfils its responsibility of constructing special needs institutions in the country.
Malawi has only Montfort Teachers College as training institution for teachers of special needs students but there are plans to build another college in Machinga district.