Education for children with disabilities: Read how 3 partner countries are making school more inclusive
December 02, 2022 by GPE Secretariat |
3 minutes read

Read how Somalia, the Kyrgyz Republic and Zimbabwe are helping children with disabilities access quality education with GPE’s support.


Somalia: Supporting children with disabilities

“Previously I had difficulty hearing. I wasn’t able to fully follow the teachers’ explanations during class. My ear had pain sometimes. The assistive device has helped me a lot to hear everything. I’m also confident to ask questions in class.”
13-year-old student

Before COVID-19, around 3 million children in Somalia were out of school, and those in school were struggling to learn. The pandemic combined with the effects of protracted crises made education challenges worse.

In 2020, Somalia launched its first initiatives to cater to children with disabilities – a group of students vulnerable to missing out on education, especially during the pandemic. GPE funded the production and distribution of over 8,600 copies of braille textbooks, which benefitted more than 650 visually impaired students; and 199 hearing-impaired students received assistive devices.

Abdinasir*, a 13-year-old student with difficulties hearing, benefits from an assistive device.

No one recognized the severity of his problem until he started attending school. At first, some teachers assumed he was purposely not responding when he was questioned. Then they realized he had trouble hearing. Abdinasir used to sit in the front of the classroom to improve his chances of hearing his teachers.

Thanks to GPE’s support, Abdinasir received a hearing aid and can now listen and actively participate in class. Such initiatives are granting equitable access to education for children with disabilities in Somalia – a step towards ensuring no child is left behind.

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* Name has been changed

Kyrgyz Republic: Making early learning more inclusive

The Kyrgyz Republic, with GPE support, is expanding access to quality pre-primary education. To ensure all children reap the benefits of early learning, targeted efforts help the most vulnerable children attend and flourish in preschool.

Children with disabilities are at high risk of missing out on early learning. Few have access to specialized schools that meet their needs; and if they attend mainstream preschool, they do not receive the necessary support.

Many preschool teachers have limited knowledge of how to create an inclusive environment for children with disabilities and lack the applicable pedagogical skills; parents and local authorities are unaware of screening and referral services.

To promote inclusive education, a pilot program was launched to integrate 4-to-6-year-old children with special educational needs into mainstream preschools. The pilot was implemented in a district with little or no access to specialized schools. Out of 70 children screened, 50 children were enrolled.

GPE strengthened screening and referral procedures, improved the skills of 244 teachers and social workers, and provided 120 schools with essential learning materials to expand inclusiveness. This program provides a model for national expansion, helping the Kyrgyz Republic make early learning more accessible and equitable for children with disabilities.

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Zimbabwe: Disability-friendly schools

Zimbabwe was hit hard by cyclone Idai in 2019–one of the worst tropical cyclones to ever struck Africa.

GPE funded the rehabilitation of 139 schools damaged by the cyclone. Not only were the schools made safe for children, but GPE supported Zimbabwe to go a step further and make the schools inclusive to all students, seeking to increase the enrollment of children with disabilities.

Eighty classrooms now have ramps and door handles that are accessible to children using wheelchairs; toilets now have wider doors and ramps to improve access for children with mobility issues.

Edgar Moyo
“After the rehabilitation of the classrooms, we saw that a lot of children came back to school and those who had not been in school started coming to school. So, the impact was really great. The coming-in of GPE into the matrix is a big complement to our efforts and also to satisfy and ensure we achieve our education sector strategic plan, so we are very grateful.”
Edgar Moyo
Deputy Minister, Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education

GPE also helped provide more than 2,520 assistive devices to students. These included hearing aids, wheelchairs, crutches, prosthetic limbs, study lights, large print books and special sunscreen lotion for children who have albinism.

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