Written by Decenzo Banda
Chancellor College students have fired a warning shot that they will adopt ‘the HRDC way’ coupled with court litigation if authorities at the institution continue to procrastinate on improving the conditions of students with disabilities at the college.
The warning was made during a staff-student seminar organized by the Disability rights clinic of the Faculty of Law at the institution on Thursday. The seminar was organized under the theme: “Inclusion of persons with disabilities in higher learning.”
While applauding Chancellor College as the only institution of higher learning that enrolls students with disabilities in the country, it was learnt with sadness that the college is not doing enough to make the said students enjoy their rights.
“The main library building is discriminatory as there it is inaccessible to our friends with physical disabilities. Again, one wonders why the college is still dilly-dallying to employ official helpers for students say with visual impairment. We have been pushing for this to no avail,” said one participant on condition of anonymity.
The concerns catalogued above were also echoed by the Patron for the clinic Dr Enock Chilemba, a passionate disability rights defender, who let the cat out of the bag saying ‘we will now have no choice but to demonstrate on campus and if need be, to drag our own college to court as one way of compelling authorities to respect rights of students with disabilities on campus.”
Concurring with Dr Chilemba was Senior Resident Magistrate Rodrick Michongwe who prodded students to stop mere rhetoric but rather take bold actions to enforce rights of students with disabilities at the institution.
“We have listened to good presentations, wonderful recommendations have also been made but in the final analysis, this will be a futile exercise if no action is taken. Let’s walk the talk even if it means seeking legal redress on some of these issues,” he said.
It appears the current crop of students at Chancellor College are so passionate to see that students with disabilities are enjoying to the fullest their social, political and academic rights. For instance, most of the students this reporter interviewed after the seminar said they are hopeful to make history next week by ushering Geofrey Phunyanya, a fearless, charismatic, listening, energetic and no nonsense third year student with Albinism Phunyanya who is contesting as President of the Students union of Chancellor College (SUCC).
According to official statistics, Chancellor College has over 80 students with various forms of disabilities ranging from visual impairments, Learning difficulties as well as people living with Albinism among other forms.