Embracing Children With Special Needs

As I continue my trip across Zambia, I’m reminded once again of how ChildFund’s work around the world is amplified through our partnership in the ChildFund Alliance.

One of my stops this week was at a school for children with special needs. Constructed with support from ChildFund New Zealand, the school serves 350 children with special needs who live in Luangwa District. These children were completely left out of the education system because the district had no school set up to serve them. In a culture where children with disabilities are still considered taboo, mothers with such children tend to hide them from the public.

A school was urgently needed, along with parent and community education to increase awareness of just how much these children can accomplish in a supportive environment. The Special Education Needs (SEN) school is now complete, and it’s impressive with two dormitories, a block of classrooms and two resource rooms. We’ve reached 52 children with special needs thus far.

I was pleased to learn that the Zambian government has sent trained teachers to Luangwa, and that all of them have skills to work with children with different disabilities. The student-teacher ratio at the moment is only 3:1; it may increase to 5:1. That’s still pretty good, because it allows teachers to concentrate and pay attention to each child.

I learned that there are only three such schools in the country, so I’m very happy ChildFund is helping with this important outreach.

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