Disability Inclusive and Customised Employment (DICE) Project
The World Health Organisation (WHO) places the prevalence of disabilities in Zambia at 15%, asserting that 2 million women and men have some form of disability. . However, the Government official data, obtained from the 2010 national census, places the prevalence at 2% (CSO, 2010). It can be deduced from the remarkable differences in statistics that possibly the structure of Government statistical records does not include some forms of disabilities. If this assumption holds true, then it is likely that segments of the population, perhaps with implicit forms of disabilities – such as intellectual, may not be adequately catered for in Government’s development plans and budgets.
Currently, employment services for persons with intellectual disabilities in Zambia are largely provided through “sheltered workshops”. These are segregated vocational training centres established for people considered unable or unlikely to obtain a job in the open labour market because of their perceived learning limitations. These facilities offer training in income generating activities such carpentry and farming. The challenge, however, is that despite the training offered, very few persons with intellectual disabilities graduate to the open employment market where they can earn fair wages.
The Sani Foundation adopts a holistic approach to promoting gainful employment for people with intellectual disabilities. The approach entails an intelligent blend of empowering young persons with intellectual disabilities, on one hand, and promoting structured engagement of their families, potential employers and policymakers. The Foundation uses evidence-based approaches, adapted to local settings, to establish a nurturing, supportive and empowering environment that enables young people with intellectual disabilities to develop their career pathways.
Supported Employment (SE) embraces a ‘person-centred’ approach, beginning with the person’s needs, aspirations, talents and skills. The ‘place, train and support’ model of SE involves engaging and training job coaches, who in-turn, work with the job seeker to identify interests and skills, which is then followed by matching and placement.
Daily work-based learning for young adults with intellectual disabilities;
Supported employment services to persons with intellectual disabilities;
Training and support to employers;
Parent education, training, and empowerment through support groups;
Community engagement and sensitization; and
Evidence-based policy influencing.
1. 85 per cent of the students had an improvement in skills acquisition/enhancement ranging from 30 to 50 per cent, which enhanced their productivity.
The students were trained in areas such as communication, numeracy, life skills. The training also included hands-on skills such as making crafts and gardening.
2. About 50 per cent of the students were successfully placed in various job settings such as restaurants, accounting firms, lodges and stables.
3. Of those under placement, about half the number is currently receiving salaries and employment contracts. In addition, employers have expressed satisfaction with the productivity of the student-interns and are considering hiring them as employees.
4. A Technical Working Group co-chaired by the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services (MCDSS) and the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, with Sani Foundation as the secretariat has been established. Other platforms for discussing intellectual disabilities include; stakeholder forums, and the Zambia Business Disability Network (ZBDN). Additionally, Sani Foundation was recently nominated to chair the Ministry of General Education's Project Coordinating Committee's sub-committee on Inclusive education.
Lessons Learnt (Success Factors & Challenges)
The project highlighted the importance of carrying out structured sensitization and advocacy for promoting gainful employment among people with intellectual disabilities. This would include discussions, amongst others, on negative beliefs and perceptions towards people with intellectual disabilities;
Deliberate efforts to engage families of families with young people having intellectual disabilities promotes buy-in and family support, a catalyst for exploring collaboration with other stakeholders such as employment service providers and policymakers;
It is important to build working relationships with potential employers to inform the pedagogical training and as well ensure effective skills transfer during placement of the students. .
It is imperative to have strong collaboration among players in the disability sector. This is a prerequisite for targeted community outreach and for effective lobbying of support from government and other stakeholders.
Which elements/tools are most suitable for replication / scalability?
Individualised/person-centred planning aimed at enabling young people with intellectual disabilities to effectively compete on the job market.
Mainstreaming disability inclusion across national policies and programmes
Setting up and Multi-stakeholder platforms for discussing intellectual disabilities include; stakeholder fora approach
work-based learning for young adults with intellectual disabilities;
Conducting structured sensitization and advocacy for inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities into gainful employment. This would include discussions, amongst others, on negative beliefs and perceptions towards people with intellectual disabilities;
Strong collaboration among players in the disability sector is a prerequisite for increased community outreach and effective lobbying of policy and operational support from government and other stakeholders.