“Outstanding Presentation” award for blind Human Rights Law student
Thomas Mtonga was awarded the “Outstanding Presentation” honour at the biennial conference which was attended by delegates from over 50 countries.
The biennial conference for the International Association of Special Education (IASE) held at the University of Lower Silesia in Poland on 21-25 June 2015.
Thomas (pictured) is currently studying LLM Internatioanl and European Human Rights Law. His research investigates the effects on disabled children of Zambia’s Free Education Policy, introduced in 2002 to tackle education inaccessibility.
Talking about his research Thomas explained: “Before free education was introduced, over one million Zambian children could not access primary education - 43% of those had disabilities. In the years after 2002, there was a trend of high dropout rates for children with disabilities. This means that there are many other factors contributing to the inaccessibility of education besides poverty. I visited around 15 schools for learners with disabilities and one of the things discovered was that many parents, who were uneducated themselves, did not appreciate or see the benefits of an education for their children with disabilities.”
Thomas, who is a lecturer and researcher in the School of Education at the University of Zambia, is currently studying for an LLM as one of the Open Society Disability Rights Fellows hosted by the University of Leeds.
Speaking of the fellowship scheme, Professor Anna Lawson said: “It has now been running for three years and is a partnership between the Open Society and the University who, together, provide funding. As well as satisfying our academic entry criteria, potential fellows must demonstrate that they have the potential to become leading advocates for disability equality and inclusion. It has been a great privilege to host these fellows. I have no doubt that many of them, including Thomas, will go on to achieve great things.”