« J’ai toujours cru qu'elle réussirait dans ses études »
Au Togo, grâce au soutien d’un enseignant dévoué et de ses parents, Sougleman, fillette handicapée de 8 ans, a pu poursuivre sa scolarisation et faire partie intégrante de sa communauté
02 octobre 2018 par Julia McGeown, Humanity & Inclusion, et Aissatou Sy, Humanity & Inclusion
Lecture : 3 minutes
Sougleman, une jeune fille souffrant d'un handicap. Togo. Crédit: Humanity & Inclusion
Sougleman, une fillette de 8 ans vivant à Tandjoaré, dans le nord du Togo, a contracté une forme grave de paludisme en 2016 qui la rends désormais incapable de tenir des objets, d'entendre ou de parler.

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.

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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