New programmes on the cards The launch of new degrees in disability studies in the faculty of Arts is at an advanced stage

following a stakeholder’s workshop held at the Tel-One Campus on Sa turday. Saturday’s workshop cast a green light to the launch of the Bachelor of Arts in Di sability Studies Honours Degree and the Masters of Arts in Disability Studies ta rgeting new students whose semester commences early March this year. Senior Assistant Registrar in the Faculty of Arts, Ms Chipo Baye and Administrat or in the faculty, Ms Caroline Checha revealed that both programmes will have vi siting programmes. Southern Africa Post-Graduate Studies sponsor, Canon Collins Trust, as represent ed by the trust’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Sandy Balfour and an associate, Ms E sther Grieder, sponsored the workshop which was attended by stakeholders from ci vil society, government, education, legal and the media fraternity. In his opening remarks, Executive Dean of the Faculty Arts, Dr Charles Pfukwa, s aid MSU is as a true Zimbabwean University that appreciates the plight of the di sabled in the country’s discourses of development and look for home grown solution s to problems facing persons living with disabilities. Dr Pfukwa stressed the need for stakeholders to support the initiative saying th eir input is vital in structuring the curricula of the two programmes. “Your support is key, we cannot, in our offices sit down and come up with a good p rogramme, we need you, the programme is yours because the need stems from the in dustry from which you are coming and hopefully in the future we can have more th an just the programmes but perhaps have a fully fledged faculty of Disability St udies,” he said. Addressing participants during the workshop, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Ed ucation, Professor Chiromo who was chairing the proceedings, echoed Dr Pfukwa’s se ntiments saying, it is the institution’s culture to consult stakeholders before in troducing any programme at the university. Participants hailed the move saying if the programme is launched it will cover a gap in the education sector regarding persons living with disabilities. Midlands Provincial Therapy Manager at Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, Mr Hillary Tanyanyiwa applauded the initiative as a noble. “The programmes have a great thrust and in terms of structure they should be aimed at filling in existing gaps which undoubtedly the institution has identified. “There is need for a holistic approach that ties-up or consolidates existing effor ts aimed at empowering the impaired. Our ministry is very interested in the pro posed curriculum to make sure that modules will be relevant to what is obtainin g in the industry where students will be attached and subsequently employed upon completion of the degrees,” said Mr Tanyanyiwa. Mrs Perpetua Musiiwa who is Deputy Head at Jairos Jiri Association said, the pro gramme should look into practical aspects like audio-visual and interpreting mod ules. “If these are put into place, it will be the first, in fact, the best programme in the country; it is a very nice programme,” she said. Form the Ministry of Justice, Principal Law Officer in the Department of Legal A id Directorate; Mr Samuel Deme said that the Zimbabwean legal fraternity has a l ot to be desired in terms of legislation regarding the plight of the persons liv ing with disabilities, therefore the move by MSU to establish a department of di sability studies will be very relevant. “The programmes will be very relevant in that it will conscientise people on the r ights of persons with disabilities. Research will be providing recommendations t o relevant players including the government, civil society and the public in gen eral. “The government will take an appropriate action based upon such recommendations; t his will in turn improve the legislation and policies for persons with disabilit ies,” Mr Deme stressed. Echoing Mr Deme’s sentiments, Senior Master and specialist teacher at Jairos Jiri

Association, Mr Mbaluka said, “ the programme is going to conscentise society that people with disabilities exist in every community and that their human rights w orth to be respected.” Sister Viola Matunhu who presented on HIV & AIDS in regard to the disabled calle d for the inclusion of modules on Disability & HIV/AIDS and Disability counselin g communication since people with disabilities are more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS i nfection as there is a death in brail health literature. Director in the Disability Resource Centre at MSU, Mr Ramushi, said there was a lot of insight from the workshop. He however said that there is need to discuss policy and objectives of the programme. Giving closing remarks, chairperson of the Department of Psychology, Ms F Ngweny a said, presentations and contributions by participants were informative well re searched and that their contribution was a precursor to the foundation and devel opment of the two programmes. She also called for the introduction of a compulsory module in disability studie s at MSU as a way of mainstreaming disability issues. “As the institution has instituted gender studies as an equal compulsory module, i t is equal important that a course on people with special abilities be introduce d for all students,” she said. She tied up her speech by urging stakeholders to continually be actively involve d in formulating degree programmes as this will answer three basic questions; wh o is going to study the programme, what will the graduates do, what knowledge ba se will the programme contribute to society – its value to the nation. In a related development, the faculty of Arts is also casting a net on the intro duction of Peace and Conflict studies at undergraduate and masters’ level. Media key to disability communication

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