A School Accessible to All Students
UNICEF-supported primary schools in Qena governorate have taken steps to ensure all children – including differently-abled children – can attend and learn
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“I don’t want her to stay at home, I want her to be smart and educated,” her father said, wiping away the tears that begin to fill his eyes. “I hope she can bring good things to our family and have a better life than us.” In his late forties, Ahmad Aly doesn’t seem to be very rich and you can see on his face that life wasn’t always kind to him.
His daughter, Ro’aa is affected by down syndrome. At seven years old, she is already very confident about what she wants to become later in life. “I want to be a doctor,” she said. When she said that, you could see on Ahmad Aly a mixed expression of hope and love.
This scene took place in December 2020 in Mohamed Naguib school located in Qena, Upper Egypt. A school where adjustments were made to facilitate the access of differently abled children like Ro’aa.
Targeted schools have been better equipped to accommodate diverse types of learners, including children with mild disabilities, that can be handled within the school, such as autism, down’s syndrome, visual and partial hearing impairment, as well as slow learning.
“I wanted Ro’aa to be involved as well,” said Shimaa Ahmed, displaying one of the modified games that she and the students created together. “It’s my responsibility to reach all students.”
Teachers and school staff are trained on identifying and assessing disabilities, producing tailored learning aides, as well as individual learning plans to match the individual needs of the students.
Nearly, 6000 differently-abled children enrolled in 290 inclusive schools across seven governorates benefit from the interventions of the UNICEF-supported and European Union-funded project “Expanding Access to Education and Protection of at-Risk Children in Egypt”.
In 2020, several schools witnessed rehabilitation works of water and sanitation facilities, in addition to rehabilitating toilets and installing handrails for children with physical disabilities.
On a parallel front, the European Union-funded project helps set up a specific place inside the school called a ‘resource room’ consisting of educational material that teachers are trained to use in providing personalized sessions to differently-abled children to complement their regular classroom learning.
In December 2020, a delegation from UNICEF led by its Representative Mr. Jeremy Hopkins alongside key Government officials as well as officials from the Ministry of Education and Technical Education MoETE visited several public schools as well as community schools in Qena and Farshout.
For more than two decades, UNICEF has been supporting the MoETE in providing access to education to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children through adopting and scaling up a Community-based Education model. The Community-based School model is targeting out-of-school children in deprived areas where children do not have access to public primary schools.
During the visit, Mr. Hopkins engaged with children and teachers as well as parents who expressed their satisfaction with the quality of the services provided in the targeted schools.
“We will continue to advocate for Inclusive Education, on the basis that it is the right of every child regardless of their vulnerabilities to access quality education and to be better prepared for life and the future,” said Mr. Jeremy Hopkins, UNICEF Representative in Egypt.
“The more inclusive schools are, and the more the teaching can be adapted to diverse needs, the more children are benefiting, not just those with disabilities but all types of learners”, added Mr. Hopkins.
The Ministry of Education and Technical Education are planning to expand the inclusive education model nationwide so that more differently-abled children could fulfill their potential.
With the generous funding of the European Union, UNICEF equipped 290 resource rooms across the country with adequate educational material, IT equipment, furniture and stationery.