By Lylie Happiness
Oshakati, 10 Nov. – The Deputy Minister of Disability Affairs, Alexia Manombe-Ncube, has expressed concern about the high number of children with disabilities who are not attending school due to discrimination.
Manombe-Ncube was speaking at the National Disabilities Conference in Windhoek on Thursday.
She said most children with disabilities are unable to attend school because most school buildings are not user-friendly for them.
She said as a result, most people with disabilities cannot compete on the job market due to little or no education and skills to perform tasks.
Manombe-Ncube, therefore, urged Namibians to advocate for persons with disabilities not to be left out in education, health and social services.
She also revealed that the government, through her office and the Ministry of Education, is working hard to ensure that Disability Resource Centres will be open in all regions.
The chairperson of the National Federation of People with Disabilities in Namibia (NFPDN) Matheus Hashoongo said there is a need to address loopholes in the country’s national disability policy.
Among the loopholes, Hashoongo pointed out that the policy is not well known because it is not accessible enough to the public or to people with disabilities.
Furthermore, the policy is out of date, and there is a lack of aggregated data on Namibians with disabilities.
In addition, Hashoongo said the policy does not protect the interests of donors or NGOs that deal with persons with disabilities, nor does it hold the government accountable for the lack of service delivery to them.
Hashoongo noted that all these loopholes have resulted in people with disabilities being excluded from the mainstream of the country’s economy and services, as the government is unable to make informed decisions.
He therefore recommended that the policy be amended and that a proper budget be allocated to people with disabilities, as this is currently poorly allocated.
He said people with disabilities should be elected to positions of power as well as included in democratic processes and that people who stigmatize or discriminate against people with disabilities should be held accountable through criminal justice.