It's about inclusion
Access to education, health and social protection services for children with disabilities in Armenia
Armenia has made considerable progress in the protection of the rights of children with disabilities. More children every year are included in regular schools, medical aid and rehabilitation. Non-governmental organizations are providing an array of services to children with special needs and their parents. Yet there is a lot of room for improvement - children with disabilities and their families are entitled to be supported through coordinated services accompanying the child along the life cycle. Inclusion enables their progressive promotion and protection of their rights.
Thousands of children with special needs in Armenia are still isolated from their families, peers and communities and live in orphanages and special boarding schools. Many children with disabilities do not attend preschool and school at all, and do not participate in the life of their communities. The lack of social inclusion of these children keeps reinforcing segregation.
More and more people in Armenia have increased their understanding of the fact that a society able to include children with disabilities is a better society for everyone. Learning in inclusive kindergartens and schools is the passport to living in a society where every member can lead a dignified life. To receive education and grow up in a family environment are inalienable rights of each and every child, regardless of their abilities or vulnerabilities. No child can develop his/her full potential without a surrounding enabling environment.
Children registered with disabilities form around 1% of the total child population in Armenia. Given the international expected benchmark disability rate of 2.5%, there are likely to be around 12,000 children with disabilities whose disability is not certified for various reasons such as the unwillingness of the family to get certification or the current diagnosis-based criteria of disability certification, who remain invisible to the social service system.
Situation in numbers:
• 1 in every 8 among all the surveyed children with disabilities stays in residential care institutions (orphanages or special boarding schools).
• 12% of children with disabilities do not have any friends. Children with intellectual and combined disabilities are the most lonely – 1 in 5 does not have friends, and only half have any friends among the children of their neighbours (i.e. in their immediate community).
• 1 in 3 children with disabilities does not take part in community events (weddings, event celebrations, etc.). Again, children with intellectual and combined disabilities are the most excluded – approximately half of them do not participate in such events.
• Only 1 in every 4 children with disabilities receives services envisaged by Individual Rehabilitation Plan.
• 1 in 3 children with disabilities does not attend or has not attended kindergarten (preschool). This indicator is twice as low in rural areas (23%) compared to urban areas (44%).
• 1 in 5 children with disabilities does not go to school. In rural areas the proportion increases to 23% (1 in 4). Children with motor and intellectual disabilities are the most likely to be out of school (26-27%).
• The awareness of laws and international conventions of the respondents is quite low. Two thirds of the respondents had never heard of Convention on the Rights of the Child or Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
• Disability is more often viewed as a disease than a life condition. In regions, 61% view it as a disease compared to 52% in Yerevan.
Knowing in details the situation in which children with disabilities live now, whether they have access to services and can actively participate in their communities, is the first fundamental step to be able to answer better and better to their needs.
UNICEF strongly believes in a full inclusion of children with disabilities and hopes that the provision of reliable, accurate and highly informative data such as those presented in this report will mark a milestone on the way to ensure that no child is left out.
For more details, read the full report!