Zimbabwe Policy Workshop Report


09:00 – 09:15RegistrationProf Garwe E.C., BUSE
09:15 – 09:30Opening Remarks and IntroductionProf. Mwenje, VC, BUSE
09:30 – 09:45Inclusive education in Zimbabwe – focus on refugee learners with disabilitiesPED, Manicaland
09:45 – 10:00What inclusive education and access meansRefugee child with disability Parent of child with disability
10:00 – 10:30DRIVE Project Overview and ObjectivesProf Garwe E.C., BUSE
10:30 – 11.30Project findingsDr C. Nyoni, BUSE
11:30 – 12:00Health BreakAll
12:00 – 12:30Plenary Session (Q&A)Advisors
12:30 – 1300Policy brief PresentationDr C. Nyoni, BUSE
13:00 – 13:20Way ForwardProf Thondhlana, UoN
13:20 – 13:30Closing RemarksProf Garwe E.C., BUSE
13:30 -13:35Vote of thanksMr J. Mhlanga, Camp Administrator


The DRIVE Policy Workshop for Zimbabwe took place at the Rainbow Towers Hotel, Zimbabwe and simultaneously on Zoom on the 26th of September 2022. This was a validation forum that provided feedback to respondents that participated in the study as well as to provide policy feedback to stakeholders regarding how to approach inclusive education in a meaningful way that ensures access, participation and achievement of disabled refugee children.

The workshop was attended by 45 participants (41 face-to-face and 4 online) from Zimbabwe, South Africa, Uganda and the United Kingdom. The number of participants representing each category is shown in Table 1.

Table 1: Number of DRIVE Policy Workshop participants per category

Ministry of Public Several Labour and Social Welfare (responsible for refugees)1
Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development (Head Office)1
Acting Vice Chancellor BUSE1
Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education (Head Office, Provincial Education Officers, District Schools Inspector, School Heads and Teachers (both primary and secondary)10
School Development Association1
DRIVE Advisory Board Members5
Tongogara Refugee Camp administrator1
Refugee children, male and female (including disabled refugee children)5
Refugee Parents (with children in and out of school)4
NGOs operating in Tongogara refugee camp4
Academics represented by three universities3
Religious leader working in Tongogara Refugee camp1
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)1
DRIVE Team from South Africa & UK3
Democratic Republic of Congo Tongogara alumni refugee student1
Research lead and Assistants3


The workshop featured welcome remarks from the Vice Chancellor for BUSE and a keynote presentation from the Provincial Education Director on “Inclusive education in Zimbabwe – focus on refugee learners with disabilities.” The Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development and the UNHCR also weighed in on their vocational and university sponsorship programmes. The objectives of the DRIVE project, the methodology, findings and draft recommendations were presented by the project Team members from the Zimbabwean Chapter. The workshop provided a great opportunity for participants to discuss and provide feedback on gaps in the findings as well as to co-design recommendations that best reflect and communicate the views of refugees and their wards. Some workshop photos are shown below:


Participants deliberated on the following:

  1. Refugees appreciated their involvement in co-creating solutions to the education of their children particularly those with disabilities.
  2. Although many policies exist that favour the inclusive education and welfare of refugee children including those with disabilities, there was no explicit mention of these specific beneficiaries in the policies thereby leaving room for their “exclusion.”
  3. Awareness and capacity building programmes were necessary to change the rampant negative attitudes towards children with disabilities particularly by their parents, and families but also to a large extent by teachers, institutions and organisations that are involved in their education and welfare.
  4. Access to education was inadequate if it is not backed up by participation and achievement.
  5. The need to facilitate the transition from one grade to the next (for special classes), secondary education to tertiary as well as school to work for refugee children with disabilities was discussed at length. 
  6. The issue of limited resources available to disabled refugees was also flagged particularly to do with assistive technologies and special education teachers.
  7. Language (including a harmonised sign language) barriers was another cause for concern requiring capacitation of teachers, children, authorities and parents. To this end, home-school synergies, the use of interpreters, and cultural mediators was suggested. 
  8. Transition into Higher and tertiary Education for refugees received attention with observations that while the opportunities were available, these were not very magnified and there was need to enhance the opportunities. Vocational and technical education was deemed a critical component that needed to ensure full participation by refugees children.

The poster shown in the figure below synthesises illustratively the recommendations presented, amended and endorsed for inclusion by workshop participants in the final policy brief.

Figure 1: DRIVE Zimbabwe Policy Recommendations

Co-revised policy recommendations

Conclusion and Way forward

The workshop was critical for addressing issues that bedevil the education of refugee children with disability. The policy brief received a huge buy in from the government ministries with the Ministry of Education promising to take up on board on critical observations that relate to legal framework and provision of resources for refugee students. The Ministry of Education highlighted that a lot of issues could be addressed right away and invited us to make submissions on a current review of legislation that the Ministry of Education is making to enable that the recommendations are captured for further debates and auctioning. The resultant policy brief will be earmarked to provide advocacy at the local (Tongogara Refugee Camp), national and international contexts.

At the academic and DRIVE study level, it became crucial to pursue further research earmarked at investigation issues relating to vertical and horizontal transitions.

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