Tanyaradzwa Gondo, a Grade 7 visually-impaired student at St Giles Special School in Harare is a computer genius.
By Lazarus Sauti
He can do anything with it.
“I am at peace using the computer,” Gondo boldly declares. “I can start it, type documents, play music, save files and/or switch it off without any assistance.”
He picked his computer skills from a programme code-named “Computer Skills for Every Blind Child”, spearheaded by an educator from St Giles Special School, Ticha Muzavazi.
“The programme,” Gondo brags, “not only instilled confidence, but helped me to receive quality education as guaranteed in the Constitution of Zimbabwe.”
Muzavazi, the hobbyhorse of the programme, is happy with the progress of Gondo.
“Gondo is a whiz kid,” he proudly says. “He can do anything with the computer, thanks to our programme, which targets all children with visual impairments.
“The purpose-in-life of the programme is to integrate students like Gondo into the mainstream education system as well as accord them the same opportunities as their peers without disabilities.”
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund, 19 percent of children with disabilities do not proceed beyond Grade 7 due to various reasons and Muzavazi believes that lack of computer skills is one of the reasons.
To effectively implement his project, which started three years ago with the support of the Universal Service Fund and Davis Sunrise Rotary Club, Muzavazi is working with 44 resources teachers from various schools around the country.
St Giles Special School (Harare), Murehwa Central Primary as well as Murehwa High (both in Murehwa district), Margreth Hugo Capota School of the Blind (Masvingo), St Faith High (Rusape), Ndongwe Primary (Buhera), Fatima Primary and John Tallac High (both in Matabeleland North Province) are some of the schools.
Trissure Garapo-Chizanga, a specialist in the area of hearing impairment, applauds the programme, saying it is enhancing the independent living of children with disabilities.
She, however, trusts that disability advocacy and awareness campaigns are critical in bridging the gap between children with disabilities like Gondo and their peers without disabilities.
“All exercises that thrive on engaging the generality of society in constructive conservation on disability inclusion,” affirms Garapo-Chizanga, “should also be embraced to propagate the rights of all children in terms of creativity, participation, health and education.”
“For this to be achieved,” adds information scientist, Diana Chirara, “teachers need to be equipped from the onset with computer skills and other expertise to identify learners with disabilities and help them attain their life goals.”
She also urges schools and communities to establish disability inclusive information resource centres as a way to support this noble project as well as ensure all children in the country access quality information, attend school, learn and complete their education without any form of discrimination.