Student teachers shun special needs training
THE Government has bemoaned the decline in the number of student teachers enrolled for special needs education and said more teacher’s colleges need to enrol people for the specialised training.
The United College of Education in Bulawayo is the only institution in the country that offers special needs education training.
There has been a gradual decline in the number of graduates in the specialised sector for the past three years. Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo recently said it was worrying that special needs education teachers continue to decrease.
He was speaking at the UCE graduation ceremony where 423 students graduated last week.
“While the number is notable, it is however, disappointing that the number of special needs education teachers produced by this college has gone down from 67 in 2013 to 56 in 2014, 43 in 2015 and 26 in 2016. This can’t be a good story. Among other reasons for this decline I’m told is due to challenges in the granting of manpower development leave to serving teachers,” Prof Moyo said.
He said teacher training colleges need to be involved in the teaching of special needs education teachers as UCE cannot do it alone.
“The anticipated increase of 2 000 schools means that the country will need at least 10 287 special needs teachers. It is obvious that UCE and its sister colleges have a formidable challenge before them to produce the required minimum number of special needs education teachers,” the Minister said.
Prof Moyo said his Ministry was in the process of formulating a policy to capacitate people living with disabilities so that they can have access to higher and tertiary education as enshrined in the country’s constitution.
He said the policy will address infrastructural and social challenges affecting people living with disabilities.
“Enrolment criteria should include a proportion of learners with disabilities in line with the Disability Act. The country’s universities, polytechnics, teacher’s colleges and industrial training colleges should become inclusive education systems,” Prof Moyo said.
“In essence higher and tertiary education must be responsive to the diverse needs of learners to enhance their potential and enable them to contribute meaningfully to socio-economic development for their individual and national benefit”— @nqotshili