Understanding attitudes towards children with disabilities in Armenia

Everyday life of children with disabilities – institutionalisation, education, and participation

A child with disability plays with a child without disability in the inclusive playground established by UNICEF in Spitak town.
UNICEF Armenia/2019/Gevorgyan

Highlights

The Armenian government has ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) thereby committing to “ensure and promote the full realization of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all persons with disabilities.” Not only does the CPRD endorse the social model of disability, but it also brings it to a new level by “explicitly recognizing disability as a human rights issue. From this perspective, the social, legal, economic, political and environmental conditions that act as barriers to the full exercise of rights by persons with disabilities need to be identified and overcome.” The Convention hence challenges charitable approaches that regard children with disabilities as passive recipients of care and protection, and instead demands recognition of each child as a full member of his or her family, community, and society.

Yet, children with disabilities are still amongst the most marginalized groups in Armenian society.

The objective of the report is to examine the prevailing attitudes towards children with disabilities in Armenian society and to establish a baseline to measure the change in social  norms  over  time.  This  report  focuses  on  three  important   aspects  of everyday life of children with disabilities – institutionalisation, education, and participation. It presents data disaggregated by age, area of residence, level of education and gender. 

An overwhelming  majority  believes  that  a  child  with  a physical disability should be integrated into society. However, this indicator drops significantly for children with intellectual  disabilities.  In  the  latter  case,  nearly  a third of people surveyed believed that children with intellectual disabilities should be kept isolated from society. The opinions are split on whether a child with physical disabilities should attend mainstream or special schools, but a large majority believe that a child with intellectual disabilities should indeed go to a special school.

The factors most strongly affecting attitudes towards children with disabilities are the respondent’s age, level of education, and area of residence (urban-rural). This is a positive trend signifying the openness of the new generation and signaling that there is ground for social change.

The higher the level of education,  the  more  likely the respondent is to be favorable to integration and inclusion of children with physical disabilities. The opposite holds true in the case of intellectual disability: the higher the level of the respondent’s education, the less likely s/he is to believe that children with intellectual disabilities should be integrated into society. These trends are consistent across nearly all questions.

The findings constitute a valuable resource for the Government of Armenia, international institutions, civil society and private sector  stakeholders,  as  well as children  with  disabilities,  their  families and communities to understand the existing social norms. As such, the report can be used not only to formulate public messages, but also in the design of policies and programmes to promote social inclusion and the protection of the rights of children with disabilities.

For more information, read the final report!

8 small photos showing children with disabilities in the school, with their families and doing some activities-drawing or participating in Marathon.
Author
UNICEF Armenia
Publication date
Languages
English, Armenian

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