Somali Disability Empowerment Network with collaboration ADRA Somalia and NORAD have been implemented a phenomenal step forward to the Equity and inclusive education for children with special needs in Kismaayo , Juba Land- Somalia. The program that SODEN team conducted within 7 days and concluded it as good results.
SODEN team in collaboration with ADRA Kismayo have conducted 4 days workshop on equity and inclusive education for children with special needs for various participants coming from the community. The activities of the workshop included community mobilization, normal sessions, public speeches and TV program. The participants included Disable people Organization (DPOS), Community Education Committee, parents and the Ministry of Education in Juba land.
The first two days of those four days was direct sessions provided to the participants of which the aim was to develop how CEC and DPOs can make community outreach awareness to Kismayo community by using door to door also known as house-to-house visits. They were also trained on two models; the first one was Understanding Human Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Equity and inclusive Education. The second model was Advocacy Taking action for the human rights of people with disabilities the participants were divided in to the three groups and each group was given some questions in order for the facilitator to evaluate their understanding.
Following are the questions presented to the participants:-
- What are the challenges that children with special needs in Kismayo face regarding access to education?
- How can those challenges that the children with special needs in Kismayo faces be solved?
- How can children with special needs from Kismayo benefit from equality in education?
- How many children with special needs are ready to be enrolled in to the schools?
Summary of the group answers:-
After long discussion, the groups has presented their answers in the following points
- Lack of regional and national disability act in Somalia and particularly in Jubaland state.
- Lack of accessibility in schools for disabled children.
- Limited awareness of the parents on the rights of children with special needs. Also parents fear stigma from the community if they send their disabled children to schools.
- Insufficient financial ability for children with special needs
- Mass awareness campaigns and community outreach can be overcome to these challenges
- Development of national disability act and ensuring its implementation
- Currently 74 disabled children were identified in Kismayo alone, there might be some others in surrounding small districts of Kismaayo
The 3rd day of the program was door to door campaign of which the participants together with group of disabled people, CEC and local authorities went to the five villages in Kismayo to mobilize the households and the community in general on very basic rights of children with special needs at family level. The target group of the campaign was specifically parents with disabled children in order to break the stigma that has prevented them to send their disabled children to schools. They were told that children with special needs have the same rights with other children and that even they need more welfare than others in terms of health, education as well as building accessibility. The group has visited 100 of household and the message has reached total, 400 it was successful campaign that has changed the attitude toward public.
The 4th day of the program was a huge awareness in public arena where keynote speeches were delivered by the most influential members of the community including DPOs, local authority, school principals, parents and children with special needs themselves. The campaign have gathered 700 of people from all walks of the community in Kismaayo including students
Mohamed Ali Farah, director of SODEN opened the speech by forwarding word of thanks and appreciation to the audience. “Disability is not inability and we all should know that” he started with his speech. Mohamed talked about that the community need to understand that children with special needs need special care and to be part of the community just like everyone else. “Children with special needs are neglected by their own parents simply because of their physical appearance that is totally unacceptable, it is not Islamic and totally against universal human rights” he added. Mohamed insisted that parents, school principals and the local authority are all responsible for promoting and protecting the rights of these children.
Then one of the religious leaders Sheikh Dhi’isow took the floor to give the attendees the rights of children from an Islamic perspective. “We are all equal in front of God and we will be rewarded equally, Islam does not accept any forms of discrimination against all human beings regardless of their physical look and in the case of the children with special our religion always upholds rights of the vulnerable groups. Therefore we have to make sure our children with special needs have access to education and give them the best care they need like we do for the others” he said.
The principel of Jubba School also spoke on the occasion by vowing that from now on, his school will give primary attention to the children with special needs and that they will start enrolling them in this upcoming take on. “It is something out of our awareness and indeed it is very vital, our school is now open to these children we will give them special attention” he concluded his speech.
Dr.Abdirashid spoke on behalf of Jubbaland state administration and promised that his administration will put the welfare of these children as their first priority and that national disability act will soon be developed. “it is our moral duty and responsibility to take care of our own children with special needs and make sure they get education like others. Our administration is committed to do that. I would like to thank to those who bring this matter to our attention”.
The last activity of the program was TV talk show where SODEN representative, Ministry of Education of Jubaland, DPOs gave similar speeches on the rights of children with speeches. The aim was the message to reach the community of Jubbaland and those across the world.
Outcome of the program
- Attitude of the community toward disability rights changed positively through this campaign.
- Public awareness on rights of children with special needs regarding access to education increased
- Stigmatization of disabled children by their parents and the local community was reduced.
- Local schools have promised that they will accept children with special needs
- 74 children with disability is due to be enrolled in primary schools of Kismaayo
- The administration has also promised that national disability act will developed which will help children with special need and disabled people in general to enjoy full rights and equality in all aspects of their life,
The program was wake-up call for Kismaayo community, it was the first of its kind held in Kismaayo,. However, the community and the local authority have shown great appreciation and demanded similar trainings/workshops so that small towns/villages surrounding Kismaay can reached with this awareness.
The 4 days programs was successfully executed and the objectives were met. SODEN will, however, continue the campaign and will be in regular contact with the primary target of the programs, SODEN will also closely follow up the enrollment of the children with special needs in schools which is one of the primary objectives of the program. Also SODEN is ready to conduct such this activities entire the country collaboration with ADRA Somalia and NORAD .