LWF advocates for inclusive education for children with disabilities
(LWI) - Equal opportunities for children with disability is priority of the LWF education team in Kenya. They work with the community in the refugee camps to ensure that children with disabilities can attend school.
"Key objective" of education work
Mohamed (9) was born without arms. He is refugee in Hagadera, Dadaab refugee camp. His mother died when he was still very young, and a neighbor became his guardian. There was little hope he would ever be able to attend a school and learn until LWF in Kenya enrolled him in Bidii Primary School, where he learned to write using his feet.
Mohamed is one of many refugee children in Kenya living with a disability. LWF is in charge of education in the two big Kenyan refugee camps, Kakuma and Dadaab, and provides education to 100,000 children in the country.
"Providing inclusive education to all children has been a key objective of our education work," says Miina Puntila, LWF Regional Program Coordinator for East Africa. "The LWF engages parents and legal guardians, school management, and the students themselves in seeking solutions to the challenges these children face daily."
Raise community awareness
The biggest obstacle is still public perception. Many families do not believe children with a disability can succeed in school and one day be able to live on their own. Much of LWF's work is to raise community awareness about the children's potential and how to support them in realizing it. LWF trains teachers and provides transport and school uniforms. They invite parents to peer groups, where they can share about dealing with everyday situations.
Disability is not inability.
Mr. ABDIRIZAK, LWF teacher, Hagadera refugee camp
A few years ago, LWF successfully integrated blind students in local schools and started special classes for children with cognitive disabilities in Kakuma refugee camp. Now, the team aims for inclusive education in all their schools.
"Disability is not inability," says Mohamed's teacher, Mr. Abdirizak. "Mohamed has a strong sense of self-worth. He can still achieve all his dreams and hopes."
The rights of students like Mohamed were also a topic at the 73rd Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and People's Rights, held in Banjul, Gambia, about one year ago. The LWF submitted a statement calling upon the governments in the region to provide inclusive education to refugee children.