ZARQA, 24 January 2019: Children with disabilities, their parents and disability rights activists joined UNICEF in a Zarqa Makani centre today to raise awareness of the rights of children with disabilities and to create community-led solutions to overcome the barriers they face in accessing quality education.
UNICEF Deputy Representative Ettie Higgins, Hala Mahfouz, Disability Rights Activist and Aya Aghabi of Accessible Jordan spoke at the event, attended by dozens of local parents and their children who participated in the discussion.
According to the last census, 6 per cent of children aged 5-17 in Jordan have mild to severe disability, while one per cent have acute disability. Very often children with disabilities struggle to go to school because of stigma, prejudice and lack of accessible learning.
“When children with disabilities are excluded, it is a tragic waste of potential - for these children their communities and the country. UNICEF is working with the Government of Jordan to ensure that every child, regardless of their ability, has the right to access quality education,” said Ettie Higgins, Deputy Representative, UNICEF Jordan, speaking in Zarqa.
The awareness raising event was held at a UNICEF-supported Ministry of Social Development Makani Centre. Makani centres throughout the country are playing a pivotal role in integrating children with disabilities in society, by referring them to specialized services and building their skills so that they can return to formal education.
“Inclusion is important for children, families and communities. Inclusive settings provide persons of all abilities with an opportunity to learn from each other, and accept and respect differences,” said founder of Accessible Jordan, Aya Aghabi.
UNICEF is working closely with the Government of Jordan to build a more inclusive society for every child. Since 2014, efforts to make schools more inclusive have resulted in 4,000 children with disabilities fully integrating into 85 public schools. These boys and girls attend regular classes, as well as receiving additional learning support.
In addition, over 1,600 Ministry of Education teachers have been trained on inclusive education and over 17,000 families reached with awareness messages. Today’s event in Zarqa is one of a series planned throughout the country in 2019.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.