Members of Parliament have promised to ensure that the country’s Special Needs Education (SNE) receives adequate budget support from Government and also to use the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) for
the support of the SNE in their respective constituencies.
Legislators made the pledged in Lilongwe during the parliamentary engagement on Inclusive Education organised by Civil Society Education Coalition (CSEC) where it was disclosed that the 2018-2019 budget has allocated less than K600 million which is way below SNE policy recommendation of 5% of the education budget and the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy III (MDGS III) estimate of K7.4 billion.
“It is a shameful for the country because for so many years we have not allocated enough resources for the special needs education. As time in memorial, we have never treated our children with special
needs with attention at all.” Said Parliamentary Budget and Finance Committee Chairperson, Rhino Chiphiko
Chiphiko noted that Civil Society Organisations (CSO’s), citizens and legislatures have also done too little to advocate for the issues of SNE and have left the care in the hands of the faith based
He then observed that it is time for the legislatures to pay attention to SNE and ensure that its vote has adequate allocation in the national budget.
“As a country we are not doing enough and indeed we are not doing enough.” Admits, Elias Chakwera, Chairperson for Parliamentary Education Committee, and recommended;
“As we adhere to our policy on Inclusive Education, it is important the we meet the
essentials for the special needs learners”
Benedicto Kondowe, CSEC Executive Director, emphasized that adequate budget allocation to the country’s SNE is the only solution to ensure access to primary, secondary and tertiary education by all students
with various disabilities.
“Children with disabilities are endowed with capabilities just like any other learner and in the context of education they ought to be provided with due attention because the right to education is for all.
Every leaner regardless of the circumstances are ought to enjoy this right and it is on that account that all stakeholders starting with Government, members of parliament, NGO’s and development partners are
key to achievement of inclusive education in Malawi and they need to step up efforts in special needs education.” He emphasized
He expressed hope that from the engagement with the legislatures, there seem to be commitment that they are committed to step up obligation of ensuring that there is equalisation of opportunities for
leaners with disabilities.
Due to lack of adequate financing of SNE, CSEC Director, also disclosed during the meeting that there is lack of early detection of special needs learner, lack of friendly infrastructures in most schools, low qualified teachers in special needs with few special needs teacher training institutions, inadequate teaching and learning aids, and limited access to tertiary education as it is only Chancellor College of the University of Malawi that admits students with disability.
“Under the Disability Act, I think it is imperative that Government should set the targets to obligate every institution as an investment towards disability interventions and if we do that we will be able to
avail more resources than the way we are supporting now.” suggested Kondowe
Kondowe further recommended that Government needs to review funding modalities to ensure they include SNE in areas such as Local Development Fund (LDF), use part of CDF to construct Resource Centres that are SNE responsive, training of more teachers in SNE and Construction of SNE Institute that train specialist teachers for secondary and tertiary levels.