How do you balance improving education dramatically for a targeted few vs. the long-term goal of building better education system for everyone? You combine both!
In Somalia, AET is providing scholarships for education and training for students with disabilities while also working with local NGOs and organisations for people with disabilities to increase opportunities for education, employment and political participation for people with disabilities.
We work in partnership with families of people with disabilites to give these students the chance to select what education track they would like to persure. Last year we supported 223 children enrolled in mainstream or specialist needs schools and 540 young adults in literacy/numeracy or vocational skills classes. Their teachers report they are all regular school attendees, despite the challenges many of them face with mobility and tranport and they also have encouraging end of year exam results.
We can’t recognise the success of these students without also recognise the excellent support they have received from teachers, local government and local NGOs. Bringing all these important educational players together has really increased the awareness around challenges faced by people with disabilites. Some Hargeisa schools have started checking the hearing and eyesight of existing pupils and organized help for those have needed it. Other schools are also working together to improve transport and training materials. We are thrilled to see such local action!
Because local action is really key to ensuring that people with disabilites are no longer excluded from opportunities in their community. AET supported the establishment of the first national network of disability organisations (SOSODIN) in 2013. Over the past two year, AET has been training and supporting SOSODIN to work effectively together in public advocacy and collaborate with local leadership and government. Great inroads have already been made. 32 graduates of IT/office skills training in Somaliland have been given government jobs, and there are plans to introduce target quotas for employing people with disabilites in all ministries. SOSODIN is also consulting on policy concerning people with disablities.