Children with disabilities supported with 800 tablets to facilitate distance learning

UNICEF and UK partnering in support of children with disabilities

03 December 2020
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UNICEF/2020/S. Karahoda

Prishtina, 03 December 2020 – The global crisis of COVID-19 is deepening pre-existing inequalities, exposing the extent of exclusion and highlighting that work on disability inclusion is imperative. Children with disabilities are one of the most excluded groups in our society and are among the hardest hit in this crisis in terms of fatalities.

The spread of COVID-19, has directly affected the lives of children and their families in Kosovo. The longer-term impact on the already weak social services and overall in society remains to be fully assessed. Around 345,000 children at pre-school, primary and secondary levels have been out of school during lockdown, resulting in a number of children not being able to attend schooling due to lack of assistive technologies. According to 2020 data, only 53 percent of households in Kosovo own a computer or a tablet.

In response to this situation, as part of the agreement signed between the British Embassy and the United Nations Kosovo Team on a series of integrated and inclusive health and education interventions, UNICEF will donate 800 tablets to children with disabilities, and support the deployment of 35 teacher assistants for children with disabilities.

In the area of education, the project will support the safety of schools through ensuring compliance with COVID-19 recommendations in schools and by providing support for children with special needs or those at risk of dropping out from school. A particular focus of the project will be on young women and girls. Although children are not the face of this pandemic, being largely spared from the direct clinical effects of COVID-19, the crisis has a profound effect on their lives and wellbeing.

Mr. Murat Sahin, Head of UNICEF Kosovo Office highlights: “The learning gap worsened between children from wealthier households who were able to continue distance learning through digital means and those from poorer households who started falling behind. Despite the prompt actions with distance learning, evidence suggests that the learning loss for Kosovo will be unavoidable and considerable with a large share of students falling into functional illiteracy and with increased dropout rates. Children with special needs are of specific concern here.”

Even under normal circumstances, persons with disabilities are less likely to access health care, education, employment and to participate in the community. An integrated approach is required to ensure that persons with disabilities are not left behind.

British Ambassador to Kosovo Nicholas Abbott said “On International Day of People with Disabilities, we have come together to step-up our efforts to work towards inclusive education through our UK funded programme to improve the lives of children with disabilities in Kosovo. The UK is dedicated to transforming the lives of the world’s most vulnerable, to end discrimination and stigma against disabled people and work towards a more prosperous world, leaving no one behind.”

Acting President of Kosovo – Mrs. Vjosa Osmani emphasized that inclusion of persons with disabilities should be in our daily agenda to ensure that they enjoy full rights and become equal and productive members of our society. We have failed to deliver in supporting persons with disabilities and this is the last moment to move from words to action.

UNICEF Child Rights Advocate, Rijad Mehmeti, present at the event called for increased attention and investments of institutions to ensure accessibility and inclusive services for children with disabilities so they can reach their full potential.

Developed in consultation with counterparts at the ministries of health and education, the $2.5 million project entitled Return to (New) Normal in Kosovo: Strengthening resilience through a safe and inclusive return to normality in health and education in the wake of COVID-19 is implemented by UNFPA, UNICEF, UN Women and the World Health Organization.

The British Embassy in Kosovo maintains and develops relations between the United Kingdom and Kosovo.

We work closely with the government of Kosovo on a wide range of issues, including rule of law, good governance, human rights and security.

 

Media contacts

Dafina Zuna
Head of Communications
UNICEF Kosovo Programme

About UNICEF

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.

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