Children with Disabilities
According to the World Report on Disability approximately 1 billion people in the world are living with a disability with at least 1 in 10 being children and 80% living in developing countries. Education is one of the most effective ways to break the cycle of discrimination and poverty that these children and their families often face.
9-year old Devilal can see very little
Children with disabilities are often marginalized from society and remain invisible to the mainstream population and education officials. In most developing countries there is little relevant data to identify the number of disabled children. There are also no effective policies to address their needs and provide them access to a quality education. More »
Even when such policies are in place, appropriate financing is lacking to build accessible buildings, train teachers in inclusive education, and scale up successful local pilot programs to the national level.
It is essential that societies adapt their structures to ensure that all children, irrespective of age, gender and disability, can enjoy their basic human rights without discrimination of any kind. This applies to education systems which need changes and new, innovative approaches to fit the specific needs of children with disabilities.
As part of GPE's strategy to reach out to out-of-school children, we
WHO ARE THE CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES?
The international community finds it sometimes difficult to agree on a definition for “disability”. GPE provides the following three categories of children with disabilities:
Inclusive Education in Cambodia
In 2010, the Cambodian Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sport undertook a study, supported by GPE, to gather data on children with disabilities and out-of-school children between 2 and 17 years of age. More »
A 10-question screening instrument was used to identify 2- to 9-year-olds with potential impairments, disabilities, or other significant health issues. Children screened positively were referred for an additional health screening by a team of doctors, psychologists, and hearing and vision specialists to confirm an impairment or a disability and provide treatment when necessary.
The study showed that a significant number of so-called disabled and out-of-school children suffered from easily treatable ailments such as hearing loss caused by untreated ear infections. Data also revealed that 5 % of children with poor eyesight simply needed eyeglasses to read properly.
MeiMei, a 9-year-old third grader in Takéo Province, was one of these children. MeiMei began missing school because of headaches and was no longer the good student she had been. She had difficulty following in class because she was not able to see clearly what was written on the board.
She attended a GPE-funded disability screening, which confirmed poor vision. This was also the main reason MeiMei was experiencing headaches that often caused her to stay home from school. MeiMei’s vision was corrected with a simple pair of glasses. Now, she is able to participate again in school and gain the full benefit of an education.
As a result of this study, the Cambodian Ministry of Education Youth and Sport is now designing a national disability screening for all 1st graders, with referrals and an in-school support system. Other GPE countries in the region are interested in starting similar programs to include children with disabilities in education.