South Sudan: Expand education for children with disabilities

The World Service of the Lutheran World Federation supports an inclusive education program for children with disabilities who lack adequate care and support

Sarah Philemon is a 32-year-old mother of four from Sudan’s Pamir refugee camp. Born in 1990 on Mount Nuba, she lost her hearing at the age of 15 when her village was bombed. As a result, he struggled to gain access to education throughout his life.

“I was enrolled in primary school in Nuba Mountain in Sudan when I was young, but because of my hearing loss I could not benefit from the education. There was a communication barrier. This led to poor performance even after repeating the same lesson,” he says. “Children and young people like me had lost hope, but now they see a bright future.”

Now Sarah is enrolled in the Accelerated Learning Program (ALP) at Tirhaka ALP Center and is one of the students in the Lutheran World Federation (Flm) inclusive education program.

The conflict in South Sudan has resulted in the displacement of families and has left many orphaned children. As a result, in the country there is an increase in the number of children with disabilities (CWD) who are left without adequate care and support: according to UNICEF, there are over 200,000. This is an increase from the previous estimate of 160,000. Education is generally a challenge for these children in most contexts. Many schools are not physically accessible to CWDs, and even when they are able to attend school, children with disabilities often face discrimination and exclusion from their peers. Lack of resources and qualified personnel also constitute an obstacle to training.

World Service, the diaconal arm of FLM, is implementing an inclusive education program funded by the Church of Sweden and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency in Ruweng, South Sudan, for refugees and the host community. The project – which currently involves 525 students – aims to ensure that CWDs have access to quality education. LWF’s national program in South Sudan recruits sign language and braille teachers for hearing and visually impaired students as part of the inclusive education programme.

Students like Sarah have the opportunity to expand their education. With the help of specialist teachers, CWDs learn to communicate and understand the world around them. In addition, they acquire the necessary skills to be successful in life and have a better chance of realizing their potential.

Sarah’s story reminds us of the importance of education and the need to improve access for children with disabilities. In conflict situations, we aim to help local communities build resilience. An essential basis for resilience is education. With the right education, vulnerable young people have a powerful tool in their hands to build a better future,” says Mika Jokivuori, FLM’s national representative in South Sudan.

“I want my children to have a better future than I had,” Sarah said. I want them to go to school and get a good education. With the help of this program, I know they can do it.’ “I want to complete my youth education and beyond to show my home community in Nuba and the world that the hearing impaired can learn and contribute to the country’s development. This program has helped me get closer to this goal ».

LWF World Service’s inclusive education program is changing the education landscape for CWDs in South Sudan. Many of them are now able to go to school and understand the education they are receiving. This in turn helps youth and children with disabilities shape a more inclusive future for South Sudan.

Photo: LWF / C. Mawel

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