Expands program for participation of persons with disabilities to 49 primary schools
Charlotte McClain-Nhlapo, USAID’s global Coordinator for Disability and Inclusive Development, and world-renowned lawyer and advocate for rights of persons with disabilities and children, visited Ethiopia this week to advance support to people with disabilities and facilitate their inclusion in the country’s development process.
Ms. McClain-Nhlapo participated in an Africa-wide round table on Disability Inclusive Development sponsored by the Embassy of Finland where she highlighted best practices from countries around the world to mainstream disability into development cooperation. She also met with officials from the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs and the Ministry of Education, and with USAID implementing partners, Ethiopia Center for Disability and Development and Handicap International.
Following meetings in Addis Abeba, Ms. McClain-Nhlapo traveled to Dire Dawa to visit Sabiyan No.1Primary School, one of six pilot schools where Handicap International receives USAID support to work with communities, teachers and local groups to enable children with special needs to attend school.
Based on the experience of the six model schools in Dire Dawa, Harar, and Jijiga, USAID will now provide additional funding, nearly $1 million US Dollars, to extend the program to a total of 49 schools in Oromia, Dire Dawa, Harar, Somali, Amhara regions and in Addis Abeba.
The pilot program increased the number of children with special needs attending schools; facilitated physical access to buildings and to bathrooms; combated stigma and improved attitudes towards children with disabilities; and demonstrated how inclusion of children with disabilities can be done by schools, communities and government. The expansion of the program will add reading corners for disabled children, in keeping with the main Ministry of Education and USAID collaboration on improving reading for all primary school children.
Ms. McClain-Nhlapo noted that: “Ethiopia is making great strides towards achieving the MDGs, such as universal access to primary education. USAID wants to ensure the country fully achieves that goal and which requires addressing the challenge of educating vulnerable children, including children with disabilities. The cost of exclusion outweighs the cost of inclusion. It makes economic sense— it’s a good investment in human capital”.