According to estimates, up to 10.9% of Zambian adults have a disability of some sort. Of these people with disabilities, more are women than men. Few young people with disabilities can dream of studying in a higher education institution, as entrance exams, for example, are often not adapted to their needs. The facilities used for studying are also often inaccessible.
In accordance with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, Zambia is working to improve the quality and accessibility of education. Support measures are being developed for primary and secondary education, but higher education has not yet been made inclusive.
Zambian organisations representing people with disabilities and student activists have been working persistently to guarantee everybody – also students with disabilities – the same human rights stipulated in international legislation. To help achieve this goal, the National Union of University Students in Finland, the Abilis Foundation and Vilole Image Productions, an NGO promoting the rights of people with disabilities, have started to work together with the support of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The aim is to help five Zambian higher education institutions establish a disability service centre and make the personnel and student organisations more aware of the inclusion of people with disabilities. The work will be based on a collaborative model proven successful in Ethiopia.
“Things are constantly changing. It is particularly great to see how women with disabilities are increasingly rising to important positions in society,” says Musola Catherine Kaseketi, executive director at Vilole Images Productions.
Kaseketi is an activist promoting the rights of people with disabilities and the first female film director in Zambia.
“Once higher education becomes more inclusive, students get the chance to earn a living and challenge prejudices by setting a positive example,” she concludes.