New project to address needs of children with disabilities in Rwanda
Africa, November 26 2015
RWANDA: The Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) has rolled out a project that seeks to help children with disabilities to access education and healthcare.
The ‘Special Needs Education Activities’ project is part of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Literacy, Language and Learning (L3) Plus Initiative, which has been running in mainstream schools during the last three years, with US$5 million already spent on it.
Papa N. Diouf, the VSO country director, said the project would fill the gap, help children with disabilities go to school and reduce the dropout rates among children with disabilities.
“A number of parents feel that giving birth to a child with disability is a burden to them and they end up violating their rights, especially to education and health. We therefore, need to train them on the disabled children’s rights in order to reduce the dropout rate and make them free to access healthcare as well,” he said.
He was briefing journalists in Kigali on Monday.
The project’s activities include providing skills, resources and materials for educators, parents, healthcare providers, Community Health Workers and National Council for People with Disabilities (NCPD) representatives to achieve improvement in education, care and support of children with disabilities as well as effecting change in attitudes among the wider community.
Findings by VSO indicate that 64 per cent of children with disabilities are not allowed to go to school, with 90 per cent having physical disabilities, 22 per cent not able to speak while 48 per cent have intellectual disabilities, contrary to 87 per cent of normal students who now have access to education.
Antoine Niyitegeka, the project coordinator, said it is every child’s right to access education and healthcare.
“Education is open to all and it is every child’s right. It’s a pity to see parents denying their disabled children the right to education,” Niyitegeka told The New Times.
Launched in May, the project is running in Gasaka, Tare and Uwinkingi sectors in Nyamagabe District and in Kibeho, Rusenge and Mata sectors in Nyaruguru District.
Two resource centres have already been opened in Nyamagabe and Nyaruguru districts and they will be acting as data hubs, where information about children with disabilities will be shared to prevent any of them from missing the opportunity to benefit from this project.