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