Girls with Disabilities in Zimbabwe's Inclusive Rural Schools: Challenges and Possibilities
The aim of this study was to understand the social and academic experiences of girls with disabilities (GWD) in Zimbabwe’s inclusive secondary rural schools. Guided by the concepts of the critical feminist disability theory, data were collected through in-depth interviews with five purposefully selected girls with physical and sensory disabilities and five special-needs teachers. The findings reveal that, despite the presence of supportive attitudes and resource centres, these GWD’s basic right to quality, inclusive education is negated in rural schools. The research participants narrated their struggles with barriers created by negative attitudes, resource constraints and inaccessible environments. The intersection of gender, disability and rurality contour the experiences of GWD. In particular, resilient patriarchal, religious and societal norms prefigure GWD as abject beings, unworthy of investment by some parents, teachers and state officials. Thus, the notion of inclusive education as adopted in Zimbabwean official policies does not appear to be supported by the implementation or awareness raising of teachers and school leaders in the Mberengwa district of Zimbabwe’s Midlands Province.