The Herald, 9 June 1984
THE Deputy Prime Minister, Cde Simon Muzenda, has called on churches to join the Government in looking after the handicapped.
After touring Margaretha Hugo School for the Blind at Copota near Masvingo recently, Cde Muzenda assured the churches of continued Government support for the rehabilitation of the handicapped.
He said Margaretha Hugo School was very important because it offered specialist training for the blind.
The principal and staff should not tire in advising the Government on ways of improving the institution.
The principal of the school, Cde Francis Dakwa, expressed concern that most of the students who graduated from the school could not find employment in the private or public sectors. He said the Government, in conjunction with voluntary organisations, should help by establishing more vocational centres for the blind.
Cde Dakwa appealed to the Government to increase the allocation of foreign currency to import more equipment for the schools workshop.
“There is a backlog of orders for the furniture we manufacture here because our workshop equipment is inadequate.”
He also asked the Government for more funds to establish a sixth form at the school.
LESSONS FOR TODAY
Founded in 1915 by a German missionary Margaretha Hugo, Copota School of the Blind was initially located in Chivi district, Masvingo Province, but was relocated to Zimuto district, not faraway from Masvingo city.
The school is administered by the Reformed Church in Zimbabwe and runs primary and secondary education — from Grade 1 to Form 6.
Since its formation, the school has proved that disability does not mean inability as it enrolled students with various forms of disability, not just those with sight challenges.
Copota School of the Blind has managed to produce several skilled workers, college and university graduates on a very tight budget.
The donor fatigue has seen the school facing major challenges: teachers need to be paid, students also require state-of-the-art specialised teaching and learning equipment and more. This is where Government, the private sector, well-wishers should be seen fighting for the rights of disabled people through funding their needs.
Schools countrywide are facing challenges, but we should never forget the disadvantaged in society. Government, the public sector and civil society organisations should go out of their way to uplift the welfare of the disabled, both at school and at home.
Parliament must enact laws that are disability friendly. There should be a strong budget to cater for their needs. After school, there should also be a policy that ensures that they get employment, and that they do not face discrimination in the workplace.
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