This is the second blog in the marginalised groups series. COCO recently undertook research with our partners in East Africa to determine how well COCO is working to include groups that are often left behind. You can read the first blog on gender here, and blog on people with different beliefs and LGBTQ+ will follow.
COCO is currently doing a lot, with many different schools, to ensure people with disabilities have equal access to education. 70% of respondents said COCO was somewhat effective in dealing with this and 30% said COCO was very effective at ensuring people with disabilities have equal access to education. 100% of the respondents also said that it was very important to them to ensure that people with disabilities have equal access to education.
What has already been achieved
There were four main things COCO is doing to help children with disabilities access education. Firstly, educating families to not hide disabled family members at home gives disabled children more of a chance of being enrolled in schools, Secondly, supporting families with school fees, uniform and stationery was also mentioned. Thirdly, COCO is ensuring that school buildings are accessible. Finally, ensuring inclusive education is followed throughout the school was mentioned.
Some of the schools also ensure the identified children are attending school on a regular basis and make personal visits to the families at home. Children are also sometimes offered priority places when enrolling in the school. People with disabilities are given equal opportunities for developmental activities. However, it is not just the families that are being helped; COCO is also getting the communities involved. There is a push to ensure communities understand the needs of people with disabilities through community advocacy and outreach and communal meetings about inclusivity. One respondent even informed us that they can now offer a local scholarship for people with disabilities to learn for free. Despite these achievements, there is still more that can be done.
According to the respondents, the most important thing that needs to be done is to provide more parental education on disabilities and special needs. There is quite a lot of stigma within communities surrounding people with special needs, and many families believe that disability brings bad luck. this often means that children with disabilities are hidden away from the community. lack of understanding and awareness could pose the biggest challenge in ensuring people with disabilities have equal access to education.
Many respondents also felt that more needed to be done to ensure the schools were accessible for disabled pupils. For example, there is a need for SEN (Special Educational Needs) teachers and more resources in schools; some buildings need to be made more accessible; a van is possibly needed to help get those who live far away into school; and a disabled budget could help schools aid families by providing them with wheelchairs and hearing equipment.
Overall, it is a lack of awareness that is still preventing some people with disabilities from having equal access to education. However, according to one respondent, this could be combatted by providing a structured programme to address the issues of accessibility to parents, teachers and children.
To end on a positive note, one respondent explained that aid was needed to “help them hold talent shows, because they have talent and reward them for efforts made.”
With increased community education and awareness of disabilities by working with schools, students and parents, COCO will strive to overcome these challenges to ensure that no one with a disability is left behind. Donate now to help achieve this.