In many countries, disabled young people are included in schools and receive some form of education. While these schools may be flawed and imperfect, they offer disabled children the chance to learn in a supportive environment.
In Africa, things are different.
Across the continent, only 2% of disabled children attend schools.
In The Gambia, we are piloting a simple but life-changing solution to this problem. We are establishing an ‘inclusion club’ in a local school. The aim is to inspire non-disabled students to help us find their disabled peers who are absent in the classroom, isolated in their own homes, and unknown to education and health care providers.
Once attending school, disabled children will be supported by non-disabled peers in the classroom. We know that this will give all children a much brighter future, where everyone can play a full part in community life.
Sometimes, the only thing preventing a disabled child from receiving an education is the poverty their family lives in – they simply can’t afford to send their child to school. So far we’ve assisted over 30 children into schools by just making sure they have uniforms, shoes, school bags and other materials.
But getting children into schools is a backwards step if schools are not suitable for disabled children.
The 2% of disabled children that do go to school are often left behind - due to the lack of understanding around disability. There is little support in class, inaccessible facilities and the negative attitudes that exist result in disabled children being severely bullied.
That’s why we work with and train staff as well as students on how to include disabled young people, how to prevent bullying and the importance of inclusive thinking.
In the words of one of the members of our Inclusion Club: “We are all wearing the same uniform and sharing classes. Taught by one single teacher. This shows we are here as a family. We should treat all as equal”
It costs just £15 to buy a disabled child essentials for school which their family cannot afford. Can you help?
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