Pupils at Maamba special school receive an early ‘Christmas bonuses’

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——Eleven children with different disabilities have received an early Christmas gift of having their school fees for the next two semesters paid off and will receive new uniforms as well at Maamba special school.

The Zambia Agency for Persons with Disabilities (ZAPD) made the donation of two cheques in form of education support worth K 8000 and for the making of school uniforms for eleven pupils worth K 700 at the school yesterday.

Ten pupils were in June stopped from attending classes as their parents failed to pay the required K 400 school fees at the special school and the eleventh pupil, Bonus Sibudonga, was brought in on Monday by his mother but failed to pay his fees and ZAPD stepped in to assist him and the other affected pupils.

Acting Provincial Social Welfare Officer, Yvonne Kawayo, expressed displeasure at the tendency by some parents with children with disabilities who hide their children and urged them to stop the tendency and instead send them to schools which cater for children with special needs.

She said disability is not a disease and parents should not feel cursed when they have been given such children but should instead treat them the way they would treat children who are normal.

Ms Kawayo explained that the major difference is just the biological structure and that given the opportunity disabled children can also achieve success in life just like normal children.

She, however, noted that stigma remains high in the community especially in villages and that people must be sensitised to stop such acts.

"It is up to us parents and stakeholders to stop seeing disability as inability. We also need to stop hiding and stigmatising people with disabilities in our communities and sensitise those that do that to stop," she said.

And speaking earlier, ZAPD Provincial Co-ordinator, Ruth Litebele Munkombwe, encouraged the parents to raise funds for their children in order for them to continue going to school.

Mrs Munkombwe further discouraged parents who have children with disabilities from dumping them on other people because of the state they are in but instead to provide the much needed support for them.

She said ZAPD will not stop on just the donation made but will continue supporting the school in whichever way it can.

And school head teacher, Gilbert Sikaulu, said the school currently has a total of 127 pupils in boarding of which 47 are girls and 80 are boys.

Mr Sikaulu said parents in the area are beginning to appreciate the services the school is providing but in the past it was noted that many pupils were coming from outside of Sinazongwe district.

He thanked ZAPD and government for the donation and asked for more assistance as the school faces a lot of challenges.

He added that the children become happy in an environment where they can relate to each other and this helps in the progression socially and academically.

The parents who spoke in Tonga also echoed the head teacher’s sentiments and thanked ZADP for the donation, explaining that school children faced abuse when they acted differently only to later discover they had disabilities.

The parents urged the organisation to continue supporting their children in order for them to go far in life.