WALKING into the department of special needs education at the United College of Education is refreshing as it shows an institution dedicated to accommodating learners with different challenges.
UCE is indeed a centre of excellence as it is the only college in the country which has special education in its curriculum. “We believe in including everyone in our programmes. In terms of disabilities, we train teachers to teach out there in schools with children of diverse backgrounds with varying special needs,” said Mr Adam Luthuli, the college principal. Some of the learners we are teaching educators to prepare for are those with hearing challenges, the mentally challenged, those with learning disabilities, the visually impaired and those with mobility challenges. “We are able to provide a teacher for every type of learner,” said Mr Luthuli.
It is quite inspiring that some of the college students live with disabilities, which is an inspiration to pupils living with disabilities that nothing is impossible where there is a dream, zeal and vision. The inclusivity is also seen in the teaching of minority languages.
“We are the only institution in the country offering English, Ndebele, Shona, Tonga, and we are introducing Nambya and TjiKalanga in January.” The institution’s principal said he is proud that the institution is a multi-cultural learning community. Inclusive education is now in the world agenda and it is now not just about inclusivity in terms of physical wellness or disability.
“We have an empowerment centre with assistive devices and gadgets to train teachers in assisting pupils with varied needs. We have audiometers, Braille readers and other devices that help learners with different challenges. We use certain software in our computers to aid teachers and learners with hearing impairments to use dictators or readers so that they can listen to notes or lectures,” said Mr Luthuli.
The infrastructure at the institution has been adapted to be disability friendly. There are wheelchair ramps all over the college. The hostels and ablution facilities are also disability friendly and suit needs for college students with different needs. The current enrolment stands at 2 100.