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32 million children won't have a chance to go to school today

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You will probably recall the days when September 1st rolled around, and you knew that school was starting again.

We moaned and groaned about having to go back to multiplication tables and rhyming words. However, we were very fortunate to be receiving this education - and whilst thousands of children are starting their first day of school this week, the same cannot be said for the 32 million children living with disabilities across developing countries.

According to UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring Report, the completion rate of primary school children is 48% for low-income countries, whereas 95% finish primary school in middle-income countries.

Children with disabilities are even less likely to finish primary school in these low-income countries. In Africa, having a disability not only means you are less likely to finish primary school but means you are also not even likely to start primary school.

Of course, no child should be denied the right to make friends, learn and play.  

One of the main issues these disabled children and their families face is the lack of inclusive education. Nafisa Baboo, Senior Education Advisor for Light for the World, says: “Inclusive education calls for schooling the vast majority of children within a mainstream setting, where all children, including those with disabilities, are given the opportunity and support to learn together in the same classroom.” 

This education “reduces out-of-school rates, tackles discrimination in society and reduces unemployment”, meaning it’s great for the entire community.

However, if this is such a great solution to an awful problem, then why is there not more inclusive education? According to a recent costing equity report developed by the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC) led by Light for the World and supported by the Open Society Foundation and other international NGOs, there is a lack of financial and technical resources to enable inclusive education.

Nafisa, who authored the costing equity report, has stated that something can be done in order to change this education imbalance by “making the approval for education funding on disability inclusion easier and by earmarking funds for disability inclusive education”.

Light for the World wants to get away from the stigma of “special schools”, which segregate the community and instead, move towards an inclusive society - with education for all being at the forefront of this.

Light for the World is an international disability and development organisation, with one of their main aims being to ensure that “no one is left behind in our pursuit to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal of ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education for all by 2030.”

The organisation works throughout the world on different projects; one of these projects is working with CEFISE Inclusive School in Burkina Faso’s Ouagadougou. The school is inclusive, teaching both children with and without disabilities. 500 out of the school's 3,882 children have a disability. 

In Burkina Faso, Light for the World’s work extends beyond the classroom. 

When Rihanata Ima was five years old, she contracted malaria and was left temporarily paralysed. When her condition didn’t improve, her parents took her to a local health post, where they were unfortunately told nothing could be done for her condition. However, a few weeks later a Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) worker, supported by Light for the World, noticed Rihanata during a field visit in her village. The CBR workers often go house to house in order to find out who needs support. Consequently, from this visit, Rihanata was accepted into the rehabilitation programme by Light for the World. After spending four weeks at the Morja rehabilitation centre in Kaya, Rihanata was already able to sit on her own. After another stay at the centre, she was also able to move one of her hands. She has since returned home where her parents help her with her physical exercises and she is visited by a rehabilitation worker once a month. Most importantly this rehabilitation centre has enabled her to attend school, which she travels to using a wheelchair, surrounded by her friends.

Light for the World also works with Callan Services, which has 19 Inclusive Education Resource Centres (IERCs) in Papua New Guinea, preparing children with different disabilities to enter mainstream schools and support their education.

Jill was one of 500 children to receive their support. Aged five, she contracted malaria and soon became deaf; however thanks to Callan services Jill was enrolled in the resource centre at Barro primary school, where she had access to Melanesian sign language and an education.  

Now she is 23 and in her last year of school. She will soon move onto college, where she will learn to be a teacher as she wishes “to make sure that other deaf kids get access to education, like I did. Everyone can do it. They just need to be given a chance.”

And you can help give some of these 32 million children a chance by donating to https://www.light-for-the-world.uk/donate-now, helping to ensure all children get the education they deserve.

 




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