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Ethiopia: an inclusive education for all

A new child protection programme is launching in Gode, a remote zone of the Somali region of Ethiopia, targeting vulnerable children and their families who are hosting both displaced families fleeing drought and conflict in Somalia, as well as pastoralist families from the Somali region.

It will result in community-based mechanisms for the prevention, response and monitoring of child protection issues in host and displaced communities.

It also aims to provide psychosocial support to children by establishing child-friendly spaces where children can play and learn safely.

A place to play

In an attempt to secure these spaces for children, child protection officers have been holding a series of consultations with schools, as well as the communities.

This process has helped identify a place the school, the children and the community agree on.

While doing the consultation in one school in Badilad, all the students were cheerfully laughing and speaking in Somali with our child protection team. They were very happy with the idea of having a friendly space where they can play and have fun.

The team promised to provide the play kit if they perform well at school – all have promised to be good and work hard to perform even better!

Making education inclusive

However, we came across one child who wasn’t cheering with the other students. He seemed confused with what was going on and wasn’t as happy as the other children.

The desperation was readable in his face. I asked the school director what was going on and what he told us was very disappointing.

The boy has hearing and speech impairment. He is coming to school but learning nothing, nobody is responding to his needs.

Research shows that when a child with disabilities attends classes alongside children who don’t have disabilities, there’s a good outcome for everyone.

However, it’s also clear that simply placing children with and without disabilities together does not produce a positive outcome without the right support, planning and commitment.

Interventions that work

Inclusiveness goes beyond enrolling children with disability together with those without disability.

The government, schools, and agencies supporting school programmes need to work together to design interventions that will support the special needs of these children, along with other children.

There should be a design and commitment that really benefits these children – this is the only way to promote access and quality education for all.

 

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