Persons with disabilities call for formation of their own ministry

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Persons with disabilities have called for the creation of a new ministry to look into their affairs.

Speaking in an interview at the sidelines of the on-going Northern Province Provincial Constitution Convention in Kasama today, Mporokoso District Association for Persons with Disabilities chairperson Emmanuel Mulilo said this should also be enshrined in the new constitution.

Mulilo said this will guarantee the protection of rights for persons with disabilities and ensure that their welfare was seriously taken into account by government.

He said the disabled was one of a people that had been marginalized for a long time, adding that just like the way government created a ministry to look into the Chiefs’ affairs, a ministry for the disabled was equally needed to address their concerns.

‘’We have been facing a lot of challenges as the physically challenged in this country…because even the Zambia Agency for Persons with Disabilities doesn’t help much….that organizations deals mostly with statistics,’’ Mulilo said.

He said although the youth, the women and the disabled were all considered as vulnerable groups in society, what was surprising was that the other groups were catered for by government  in the ministry of youth and gender leaving only the disabled without a ministry.

‘’Some Presidents that we have had in this country like Dr. Kaunda had a heart for the physically challenged in that they were able to help in the best possible way and that was why some of us even managed to go to schools……and we are saying this must continue for the benefit of all those who are coming behind us,’’ said Mulilo

Mulilo added that a ministry for the physically challenged can also be used to handle examinations for the blind.

‘’People have been wondering why we have very few blind people with PhDs against the population of blind people in the country……it’s because Examination Council of Zambia (ECZ) has difficulties transcribing exams written in Braille ….. These exams are not marked in Braille,’’ said Mulilo who is equally blind.

He said if there was a ministry involved to look into the affairs of the physically challenged, all those issues could be tacked adequately.

Mulilo said at the moment the physically challenged were obtaining very poor results and their numbers in institutions of learning kept on reducing up the education radar.

‘’For instance the statistics of 2009 indicated that while 60 percent of all children who were born disabled enrolled into schools as grade ones, only 20 percent managed to reach secondary school and a paltry five percent got into tertiary education,’’ Mulilo said.

He appealed to delegates deliberating the constitution to consider the pleas from the physically challenged.

Mulilo said government must also realize that though handouts can cushion the immediate needs of the disabled, only their education would go all the way in addressing their plight.

‘’Let me also appeal to delegates to the National and Sector group convention to also take my pleas and proposals into consideration when they begin their sitting sometime this year,’’ he added.