How can you learn anything at school if you can’t see the writing on the blackboard? Or hear the teacher? In 2015 more than 95 per cent of children started their first school year in Ethiopia, only some four per cent of children with disabilities went go school, according to estimates. Children with disabilities do not go to school because their parents have misconceptions about disabled children’s learning capabilities and because schools and teachers do not take disabled children into account during classes or in access to school. With Finland’s support children with disabilities will have better opportunities for going to school, because inclusive education, Education for All, has become a part of the Ethiopian education system. The reform will affect the curricula in over 30,000 schools.
Several Finnish civil society organisations are working to improve the conditions for people with disabilities in Ethiopia. The Abilis Foundation has trained politicians in disability issues and provided women with disabilities training in literacy and entrepreneurship training, the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission (FELM) has helped found hundreds of schools for deaf children in rural Ethiopia, and the Threshold Association has provided occupational training for deafblind persons.
There are about one billion persons with disabilities in the world, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Most of them live in developing countries. More than half of all persons with disabilities cannot afford healthcare services. The number of disabled persons is growing because of war, conflict, undernourishment, outbreaks of epidemics, and the lack of sexual and reproductive rights. Finland is supporting globally the promotion of the status and human rights of persons with disabilities through the UN Partnership to Promote the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNPRPD).
Photo: Outi Einola-Head, graphics: Juho Hiilivirta