“I always believed she could succeed in her studies!”
In Togo, with support from a dedicated teacher and her parents, Sougleman, a girl with disabilities, can continue her schooling and be included in her community.
October 02, 2018 by Julia McGeown, Humanity & Inclusion, and Aissatou Sy, Humanity & Inclusion
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3 minutes read
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Sougleman, a girl with disabilities. Togo. Credit: Humanity & Inclusion
Sougleman, an 8-year-old girl from Tandjoaré in northern Togo, contracted a severe form of malaria in 2016 that left her unable to hold objects, hear or speak.
Humanity & Inclusion

Parental support is a crucial factor in helping children with disabilities access education in all countries. It is even more important in countries where access to education is limited for all children.

In Togo, although 84 children out of 100 go to school, it is estimated that a large proportion of the out-of-school children are children with disabilities. 83% finish their primary education according to UIS, and these lucky children very unlikely to be children with disabilities.

There are about 620,000 known people with disabilities in Togo (potentially many more who are not known) and they are faced with negative and discriminatory beliefs and stigma within their communities, which means many can feel isolated.

Inclusive education is an important step forward to build inclusive societies, in addition to supporting individual children in succeeding in education.

Helping Sougleman succeed

Sougleman, an 8-year-old girl from Tandjoaré in northern Togo, contracted a severe form of malaria in 2016. "Despite the medical care, my daughter was left with permanent disabilities. Suddenly, she could not take or hold an object with her hands like she used to. She did not hear much anymore and she was no longer able to speak," says Nagwabe, Sougleman’s father.

Sougleman had to stay at home for almost a year, unable to go to school, because of her illness and the disability that followed. At home, she could not communicate with her family and she was totally dependent on others. But her parents were convinced that more could be done.

Even if their daughter still had significant hearing and physical impairments, Sougleman’s parents realized that this should not be a barrier to her education. They encouraged her to continue with her studies and believed in the extra support she needed such as sign language training. Nagwabe also attended sign language training sessions that enable him to communicate and support his daughter’s education. This has led to great improvements for Sougleman.

Credit: Humanity & Inclusion
Credit: Humanity & Inclusion
Credit: Humanity & Inclusion
Credit: Humanity & Inclusion
Credit: Humanity & Inclusion
Credit: Humanity & Inclusion
Credit: Humanity & Inclusion
Credit: Humanity & Inclusion
Credit: Humanity & Inclusion
Credit: Humanity & Inclusion
Credit: Humanity & Inclusion
Credit: Humanity & Inclusion

Support from itinerant teachers

Sougleman cannot rely on her parents’ support alone though. She has been helped back to school through the support of an additional teacher, known as an itinerant teacher, Damipi Lamboni, trained by the NGO Humanity & Inclusion. He is a specialist mobile teacher who works in a number of schools supporting specific students with hearing or intellectual disabilities.

Damipi supports Sougleman with school work; he helps her with understanding and use of sign language, which helps Sougleman understand the concepts more clearly. He supports her at school and at home, assisting her with homework and supporting the family. He also trains Sougleman’s regular teacher in sign language, so that she can participate in class all the time, even when he isn’t there.

In addition to setting up a system of itinerant teachers, Humanity & Inclusion, with the support of Educate a Child, organizes activities focused on the child, such as the identification of out-of-school children with disabilities, support for rehabilitation and medical care, and support at school and at home.

The organization participates in capacity building activities for education stakeholders to increase knowledge on inclusive education. HI is also planning to support the Ministry of Education in Togo with the production of a handbook for the inclusion of disability in education.

Sougleman’s progress impress her family and teacher

"I am very pleased to see positive changes in Sougleman's attitude in the classroom” confirms the class teacher Koffi Kombate. “She is more involved during lessons and well included in my class. Her level exceeds that of many of the students without disabilities”.

Sougleman is one of the most talented students in her class and continues to impress both her teachers and her parents. They are all very proud of what she has been able to achieve after such a challenging time.

Nagwabe sums it up well: “My wish is that she continues and succeeds in her school career. I am very optimistic.”

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Sub-Saharan Africa: Togo

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Comments

This is an excellent example of providing support for the inclusion of the children most often excluded -- those with intellectual disabilities or who are deaf. It would be helpful to learn more about the use of itinerant teachers -- their training, how many students/schools they support, and the supports available to them.

In reply to by Diane Richler

Dear Diane,

In northern Togo there are 14 itinerant teachers (regular teachers that have specialised, but all worked as teachers before).
HI provides training, motorcycles, a per diem, petrol, adapted materials and support, the Ministry of Education pays their salaries. Each itinerant teacher follows-up 25 children with disability in addition to general support to non-disabled children with learning needs and support for teachers. Children are spread over different schools. Each teacher is specialised in a certain disability (deafness, blindness, intellectual disability).
Please refer to the film (unfortunately available in French only for the moment) for more details : http://bit.ly/EnseignantsItinérantsTogo .

We can send you more material by email.

Also here are links to our Facebook and Twitter pages where we usually share interesting stories and best practices :
www.facebook.com/HIeducationinclusiveAO
https://twitter.com/EInclusionAO

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