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Why the school is needed
About the area

boy with ballChildren with disabilities in Zambia have practically no access to education and training, and no other resources to support them. Families tend to focus limited resources on their able-bodied children, meaning that children with disabilities will likely grow up with no opportunity to work.

In general, the situation in and around Mkushi is similar to the rest of rural Zambia where up to 85% of people live in extreme poverty and half of the population is unemployed.

To compound this situation, there are now approximately 600,000 maternal or double orphans in Zambia and there will be over one million by 2010. (From Children in Need Network, www.chin.org.zm)

Relatives take care of these children and more and more old people are becoming parents for a second time. Many take on this responsibility without complaint and care for the children with a lot of love. But they do not have the means and physical capacity to secure the children’s needs and future.

Within developing countries such as Zambia, it is estimated that between 2-7% of disabled children receive any sort of education.

By offering education and support to children with disabilities, the Donata School is not only helping these children become more self-sufficient, but it is raising the awareness of disability and challenging stereotypes with the hope of encouraging greater acceptance.

boys signingEducation in Zambia

About one-third of Zambia’s primary aged children do not go to school. They stay away because school is expensive, or far away, or because they have to work. For those that do attend, the dropout rates are high, affecting girls in particular after grade 4.

Children affected by HIV/AIDS are also likely to drop out. For those that stay in school, the number of teachers is constantly shrinking, and in rural areas it is easy to find schools with only one teacher. Children are often hungry, which reduces learning and development. The schools have little or no funds for books or other learning materials.

There is a grave shortage of places in secondary schools. For every 10 children that pass grade 7, only one will still have a place in grade 10. If a family can afford to send children to school, quite often boys' education is prioritized over girls' education, and the education of a disabled child, boy or girl, would not typically rank as a priority or a 'good investment'.

From Zambia's Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) 2002-2004 on the Southern African Regional Poverty Network (SARPN) website: www.sarpn.org.za

Disability in Zambia

Many Zambians struggle with disabilities and existing statistics understate the extent of the problem. Zambia has reported disability rate of about 1 to 2%, however new studies are suggesting rates of between 10 to 15%, closer to figures in developed countries.

An estimated 2% of disabled children has access to any formal education. Children with multiple and complex disabilities very rarely have the opportunity to receive any form of education.

The social stigma associated with disability results in marginalization and isolation, often leading to begging as the sole means of survival.