December 16th, 2015
One of IAS core areas is Inclusive Education and last week the International day of People with Disabilities was celebrated by IAS in Tanzania and Ethiopia. Here are some greetings from the field:
4 000 gathered in Ethiopia
More than 4 000 people participated in a colorful celebration to create awareness for people with disabilities in Hawassa, Ethiopia. The topic this year was: Inclusion matters, access and empowerment for people of all.
-IAS Ethiopia took the bigger role in the celebration using banners, brochures and t-shirts to create awareness to all stake holders. Dramas were performed by students with disabilities to advocate for their rights, says Eshetu Tilahun, Project leader IAS Ethiopia who also was part of the celebration.
Two students, one visually impaired (using Braille) and one intellectual impaired students inspired the attendants by presenting two big lessons using poem and reading from an article.
-The focus of their message was showing the participants how people with disabilities are effective and able if they get the chance to education. Another child, integrated to the regular class from IAS center, grade two, read one article to show how he improved his studies since he joined the project, says Eshetu.
Children performed in Tanzania
-We had a great day, altogether over 700 people were gathered, says Irene Shayo, Programme Manager, IAS Tanzania.
In Tanzania the event was organized by IAS Tanzania together with Free Pentecostal Church of Tanzania, Information Center on Disability and the authorities from the local government of Rukwa Region.
-The main reason for this day was to highlight the rights of persons with disabilities. We had children with impairments such as albinism from different schools that performed with for example poems. People were sad when they heard the stories about people being mistreated. But at the same time they were happy, since they saw that people with disabilities are capable, says Irene.
A speech was held by acting District Administrative Secretary, Oresta B Haule. He addressed the community on the rights of persons with disability and encouraged the whole district to have a budget for persons with disability.
-The celebration was important since it was a part of awareness creation. It was also a platform for persons with disabilities to raise their voices.
Text: Rebecka Woods
Photo: Eshetu Tilahun, Irene Shayo
December 3rd 2015, Somalia/Somaliland
IAS is doing a lot of work for persons with disabilities and today on International Day of Persons with Disabilities we want to higlight this storey from the field:
For ten years 17 year old Hodan from Somalia/Somaliland was pushed around in a wheelbarrow. Besides the discomfort, she was always dependent on someone to take her around. A wheelchair and a specially made toilet from IAS gave Hordan the opportunity to a dignified life.
Hodan Jama Osman is 17 years old and was born at Jaamalaaye village, Berbera town in Sahil Region. She is the first child in a family of eight, with her being the only one with a disability. Hodan is physically challenged and has never developed speech. However, she can respond to sound.
For ten years Hodan has been pushed around in a wheelbarrow by her mother.
– When Hodan grew older it became to heavy to carry her on the back so the wheelbarrow was the only option, says Hodans mother, Anab Haibe Idle.
Improved education since 1992
IAS established its presence in Somalia/Somaliland in 1992, and has over the years worked to improve the educational environment and infrastructure.
-In various parts of the country, teacher and community training programs, special needs education and skills training also have been developed, thanks to IAS work,” says Milward.
The primary purpose of distributing the assistive devices is to encourage children with disabilities to be in school.
-One of the excuses the parents have for not sending their children to school is the mobility, says Milward.
Wheelbarrow exchanged to wheelchair
And some weeks ago the life of Hodan and her mother were completely changed. For the first time in 17 years, Hordan received a wheelchair and her own toilet seat. This meant a lot of new freedom for her and a heavy burden was unloaded from both Hodan and her mother.
-Now she can have a dignified life. Before, she was dependent on someone else to move her around. Now that she has a wheelchair, she can push herself to where she needs to be, including going to the toilet. It´s also a great relief for me as I now have time to do other things, says Anab.
Disabled children hidden in homes
Anab is a member of IAS family network in the area where parents of children with disabilities can learn about how to care for their children and support each other.
-The network is very important since children with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to marginalization and exclusion. It is not uncommon that these children are being hidden in the homes since the parents believe the disability is a curse says Milward Mwamvani, IAS Acting Country Director in Somalia/Somaliland.
In these meetings, the parents also builds an organized platform from which they can lobby government to enhance the support of children with disabilities. As a result of these meetings, more and more families in the area are not hiding their children anymore.
-These meetings has meant a lot to me and it was also here I got information about the distribution of disability mobility devices, says Anab.
The devices are sourced by IAS’s local partner in Somaliland (Taakulo Somaliland Community – TASCO), through the Australian Doctors for Africa.
Text: Rebecka Woods
Photo: Milward Mwamvani
September 30th, 2015, Ethiopia
Mohamed Deqe from Ethiopia was born with a physical disability and because of this he was denied to go to school. But thanks to IAS project in Inclusive Education (IE) he can now read, write and count and is one of the top students in school.
All children should have the right to go to school. Still, as many as 126 million young people today can´t read or write and disabled children are particularly vulnerable as they are often not accepted by friends, family or the communities in which they live.
It is not uncommon that these children are being hidden in the home and denied the opportunity to go to school. Therefore IAS work actively with projects in Somalia, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Sudan, South Sudan and Kenya to help these children get a chance to education.
Rune Cederholm is our Head of Programme Departement and he visited IAS project on Inclusive Education in Ethiopia. Here he writes about his meeting with Muhamed Deqe:
“I spoke with Mohamed, 15 years old, who lives in Jijiga in the Somali region of Ethiopia. He is truly an example of that Inclusive Education works. Mohamed was born with a physical disability and can only walk on one leg, with a crutch. Because of that, he was denied the opportunity to go to school. After a year of schooling at the IAS Special Needs Education Center, he could both read, write and count! He even helped his teachers to teach the other children. His best friend had difficulties to manage in school but when he received extra help from Mohamed he was able to continue his education.
Today, Mohamed is integrated in the regular school and is one of the top students! “
Some of the activities that are implemented in the projects with Inclusive Education are:
-Organize teacher training courses.
-Provide support to parents who have children with intellectual disabilities.
-Arrange investigations on why children may have learning difficulties.
-Influence the development of educational materials and curricula.
-Produce educational materials.
-Construction of additional classrooms for children with learning difficulties to have a quiet environment to learn better and get a customized education.
-Promote a continuous dialogue with local education authorities to have “Education for All” on the agenda.
September 17th, 2015
How is Inclusive Education defined? And how should it be implemented? These were some of the questions that were discussed when IAS arranged a seminar on the topic Inclusion or Separation – What´s best in education?
The seminar was attended by IAS collaborating partners and students and teachers from Stockholm University and opened up with a short overview of the historical development of Inclusive Education (IE). This was followed by discussion on the definition of Inclusive Education.
– IE is about including all children with specific focus on those who are facing barriers to learning and participation and hence vulnerable to marginalization, exclusion and underachievement. This includes children with disabilities, said Stephen Mwaura, IAS Inclusive Education Focal Point.
Environment needs to change-not the child
Stephen Mwaura stressed that all children can learn and should be given equal opportunity to reach full potential in education.
– IE is about changing the systems to fit and accommodate children facing barriers to learn and participate and not changing the children to fit into the systems. So, how do we remove or minimize these barriers so that all children can have access to quality education?
Paul Mbatia, Coordinator from Light from the World also stressed that Inclusive Education looks into transforming education systems in order to remove barriers that prevent children from fully participating in education. And this goes back to how we view people.
– What´s your first impression when you see a person who can´t walk? Do you see the impairment or do you see the person behind it? Impairment is not the issue but the issue is how we respond, Paul said.
-Education is a basic human right and should be achieved on the basis of equality of opportunity to all children including those with disabilities, Stephen said.
Children hidden in homes
Children with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to marginalization and exclusion as they are often not accepted by friends, family or the communities in which they live. It is not uncommon that these children are being hidden in the homes since the parents believe the disability is a curse. Therefore they are also denied the opportunity to go to school.
-There is a lot of awareness-work to be done when it comes to changing of attitudes and reducing other barriers in the countries where IAS is implementing Inclusive Education. These countries includes Somalia, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Sudan, South Sudan and Kenya.
When children with disabilities are educated in special schools (segregated settings) they are often discriminated and the system tend to force these children to lead a separate life and often unable to fit in the society.
Awareness-work in IAS is done by training teachers, capacity building education administrators, awareness creation campaigns, empowering parents and local leaders, putting together parents groups and family networks, collaboration with key stakeholders, early identification and intervention of children, etc.
How far should we embrace IE?
The seminar ended with a panel discussion on the best way forward, should the education system be inclusion or separation? And how far should we embrace inclusive education?
-In IAS we want to give the child the best start in education and a smooth transfer to inclusion in the regular school. Often these children start school very late, since they have been hidden at home, said Stephen.
Therefore a child might start in a special class situated in a regular school for about two years or so to get extra support before being included in the respective regular class. While in the special class the children have an opportunity to meet and interact with children with no disabilities which is an integration to the regular class.
-Inclusive education is a process, a never-ending search to find better ways of responding to diversity. It is thus an on-going process of changing the education systems (polices, practices, attitudes, resources and environment) so that it can welcome, support and benefit all children, Stephen said.
Text: Rebecka Woods
Photo: Håkan Björk
June 18th, 2015, Sweden
Söderbaumska school and the independent school Mosaik in Falun, Sweden, have together raised 74 082 SEK (8 581 USD) to IAS project Education for All! The sum is tenfolded by Sida, which means that altogether 85 810 USD will go directly into giving disabled children in Ethiopia a chance to go to school.
For the second year in a row students in the two schools based in the north part of Sweden came together with the aim to collect money for a good cause. Free Aid, as the initiative is called, involves students helping other children, by performing some kind of work during a work day.
– We want to encourage the students to do something for someone else. In the past we have had Operation Dagsverke (a project where students collect money for Unicef during a work day) so the concept was not entirely new but last year we felt that we would like to do something on our own. We chose to work with IAS, because we know that it is a trusted organization and we know that the aid reaches the people, says Jens Lundvik, teacher at Söderbaumska school and one of the initiators of Free Aid.
– The students’ response has been very positive, they’ve really got a heart for this and think it’s great fun to be able to help someone else, says Jens Lundvik,
Skipped school lunch
From pre-school up to grade four the two schools paid for the students’ financial contribution. In return, the students helped out with housekeeping, baked bread for sale or practised performances for a soiree. From grade five up to nine the students themselves organised a job, either on a company or by helping out at home for half a day.
– In both schools we skipped school lunch and the students brought their own packed lunch. In that way we could collect even more money fro Free Aid, says Carolina Sundin, principal at Friskolan Mosaik.
Concert in church
The finale of the day was a concert in the church Lugnetkyrkan in Falun where students from both schools performed with singing and music. The students sold tickets and invited family, friends and relatives.
– We had a concert last year and it was much appreciated by all who were there. Students wanted to beat last year’s record of fundraising and I´m happy to say that we did, says Carolina.
Would you and your school also like to protect children’s right to education? Send an e-mail to email@example.com for more information.
Text: Rebecka Woods
Photo: Patrik Eriksson
April 20th, 2015, Tanzania
22 year old Kashinde from Tanzania is part of our program Inclusive Education. She is missing both legs and her arms only goes to her elbows. Despite her handicap she is determined to get an education and become a journalist.
– I want to be able to support myself, she says.
Supportive family members surround Kashinde and her uncle has, on a daily basis and by using his back as the means of transport, carried her to school. Now Kashinde has completed the eleventh class in the school she attends. She insists that her plan is not to get married.
– I want to finish my education, learn English and then work as a journalist at one of Tanzania’s international newspapers.
Over the years IAS’ work has helped over 6 million people. With our holistic approach we have transformed lives through our three thematic areas; Integrated Water Resource Management, Civil Society Development and Inclusive Education.
IAS ́s work with Inclusive Education is about ensuring children’s right to education on equal terms, regardless of the social or cultural aspects that may prevent them from it. It may be factors such as gender, ethnicity or poverty; that hinder children from being included in the teaching.
Text: Rebecka Woods