Let’s get Fahma back in school

03 February 2020


IIEP-UNESCO/Gaella Gottwald
9-year-old Fahma, who was born with cerebral palsy, dropped out of school after feeling discouraged and isolated in the classroom.

Nine-year-old Fahma was born with cerebral palsy, a condition that makes it difficult to walk and speak. Her parents initially thought children with disabilities should not attend school so Fahma missed the first two years. Later, she enrolled in school but she quickly dropped out after feeling discouraged and isolated.

Fahma may be a fictional character, but millions of real girls and boys share her story.

This is especially the case in low and lower-middle income countries, where around 40% of children with disabilities are out of school at primary level and 55% at lower secondary school, according to UNICEF.

Fortunately, planning for inclusive education is becoming a priority area for governments worldwide. In tandem, IIEP-UNESCO has just launched a new online course, Foundations of Disability-Inclusive Education Sector Planning, in partnership with UNICEF. 

During nine weeks, from 27 January to 29 March, 14 teams from 9 countries in Africa will examine key concepts, principles, and benefits related to inclusion in education systems. Participants, who come from ministries of education, development partner organizations, and national organizations of people with disabilities, will also formulate policies during the course that aim at promoting inclusion and learner diversity in the education sector.

This is an important aspect of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 4. Addressing the needs of children with disabilities in national planning processes is an important means of identifying and overcoming barriers to inclusion and ensuring that all children have an equal opportunity to learn and thrive together.