Protecting the rights of children with disabilities
By ensuring access to inclusive WASH facilities
To ensure children with disabilities have access to inclusive toilets, UNICEF in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Skills Development is constructing seven inclusive toilets in schools with Special Needs Programme.
With the construction of seven of the eight model inclusive toilets completed with support from UNICEF has enabled children with disabilities have to access inclusive toilets in schools in Bhutan.
While access to improved sanitation has improved in schools, access to inclusive WASH services still remains limited with only 19 per cent of schools with Special Education Needs equipped with inclusive WASH services.
At Changangkha Middle Secondary School in Thimphu, the capital city, the new inclusive toilet has improved access and sanitation for the 125 children with disabilities, says the school principal Nyendro.
"Before, the children used to use the staff toilet, which was made accessible with railings, but it was still a challenge to many,” the school principal said. “But the new inclusive toilets with sensors are both accessible and convenient to children with disabilities, and the parents help the school by cleaning the toilet.”
At Damphu Lower Secondary School in Tsirang, central Bhutan, the construction of an inclusive toilet has benefitted 21 children with disabilities (17 boys and 4 girls). Teachers at the school said that earlier, children with disabilities, especially the younger ones, required support from their parents and caregivers to use the school’s common toilet.
However, with the new toilet now connected with a ramp and railing to the Special Education Needs unit, the 21 students would no longer need to use the common WASH facilities at the school.
As children with disabilities in most schools are enrolled from grade pre-primary to grade 12, all eight inclusive toilets are designed to also have a separate room for adolescent girls with disabilities to ensure menstrual hygiene management.
There are today 926 children with disabilities (381 Male, 585 Female) in 32 schools with Special Needs Education programme across Bhutan, and UNICEF and partners are working closely towards ensuring that children with disabilities are able to access inclusive education and WASH services.