A new tech-driven government initiative meant to impart computer literacy and skills among people with disabilities is transforming lives and breaking boundaries.
People with disabilities – mostly the blind and physically challenged – are rising and browsing their way to the top – in business and education.
One such character is Ms Olleen Mashaya (35), despite her blindness – computer skills have given her renewed hope and reason to continue with her teaching profession.
She says the latest offering has opened new frontiers in her decade-long teaching career.
“This has honed my skills that I will use in my teaching process and I will be able to create my scheme book using a computer despite being unable to see.
“I can even make my own notes and I can download files just like how we were taught in preparation for my lesson,” she said.
And for Andile Ndlovu who lives with albinism and is visually impaired the computer literacy training by the government has come just at the right time.
“Braille books are quite expensive and you have to use quite a sum to purchase one.
“But now since we have been trained on this we will get the books at virtually no cost. So we download the various books to read and when we are done we just close the program,” she said.
The government through the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, has embarked on a training programme for people living with disabilities and albinism.
The programme is a ground-breaking initiative to support the practical development and inclusion of people with disabilities towards a human rights model.
The initiative which has since trained at least 30 beneficiaries drawn from different provinces in the country) is aimed at empowering them with ICT skills.
The training programme was made possible by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) and Internet Society of Zimbabwe at Chinhoi University Technology (CUT in Chinhoyi last week.
The initiative will also equip PWD with essential computer skills needed to use community information centres (CICs) launched by the Government throughout the country.
The organisers are hoping that the programme will be extended to the other seven rural provinces, as well as Harare and Bulawayo Metropolitan provinces once the current training is complete.
Prior to the training, people with disabilities had been left behind as they did not have the basic skills to use computers in CICs.
Public Service, Labour, and Social Welfare Director of Disability Christine Peta said the government will continue to make sure people with disabilities are empowered.
“This is the first group to be trained, and we will roll out the exercise to the other seven rural provinces, and later, Harare and Bulawayo.
“We want to move away from the charity model of disability to the human rights model, which ensures that their rights are considered,” she said.
“These people are not a homogeneous group, hence the need to support them in their different areas of need,” she said.
POTRAZ director general, Gift Machengete, said the basic ICT skills training course is aimed at introducing students to ICT who have no prior knowledge of computers.
“It explores the basic hardware components, how they work with software components and their skills,” he said.
Participants who underwent the training went home with certificates and were very hopeful that they will use the skills to good use.
They however said while it was a good program, they would be grateful if government could avail them with computers to keep up and impart knowledge to others.
Tech-driven Government Initiative Transforms Lives of PWDs