An estimated 90% of all disabled children in Africa are not attending school. In western countries children with physical or mental special needs are able to receive an education, African children are less fortunate.
The Butterfly Tree has added four special education units to four rural schools at Mukuni, Katapazi, River View and Simango, in the Southern Province of Zambia. The Ministry of Education is aiming to have ‘exclusive education for all’, however this is being trialled in some schools.
In 2009 the Zambian government provided Mukuni Basic School with a special education teacher and that was all. No materials, no equipment nor transportation for children in outreach villages who have a variety of disabilities. Life is tough for these children with special needs.
The Butterfly Tree built and fully equipped a Special Education classroom, which opened early 2011, in Mukuni Village. The government provided two teachers and now a number of children with Cerebral Palsy, hearing impairment and learning difficulties are attending school. Fountaindale Special Education School in Nottinghamshire supported this project through teacher exchange programs and sustainable income-generating activities. In 2012 the UK teachers provided workshops in Livingstone for staff from the entire Province, using Mukuni Special Education class as a role model.
The government provide trained staff to teach pupils with learning difficulties and special needs at each of the four schools where we have added a unit. These pupils can learn in a safe environment five days a week.
This is an area which we want to further develop. It costs just £6,000 to add a special education unit to a mainstream school and a further £1,000 to provide furniture and equipment. Once this is in place the Ministry of Education will provide trained teachers. The Butterfly Tree has completed a further unit for River View School in the Sikute Chiefdom, which opened in September 2013. Thirty children had not been able to attend school as there were no facilities. Another unit was completed at Katapazi Basic School in 2013 and one at Simango Basic School in the Musokotwane Chiefdom in August 2014.
We continue to raise funds for equipment and educational material for these vulnerable children.