When Going to School Is No Longer an Out-of-reach Dream

Wednesday, January 29, 2020
Korotoumou in the Classroom
Inclusion of Deaf and Blind Children into Mainstream School Project

In Mali, 2.5 million people are estimated by World Health Organization to live with a disability. People with disabilities, especially children, face various social, cultural, and economic discrimination making them more vulnerable to violence, marginalization or exploitation.  Moreover, opportunities for Malian children with disabilities are limited as communities and families fail to recognize their potential while schools are not prepared to meet their specific needs. In Sikasso, a region in southern Mali, children with disabilities are often out-of-school primarily because of long distances between their home and specialized schools for disabled children.  Additionally, parents and schools cannot afford the cost of adapted school materials such as: braille paper, vision glasses or hearing aids. These specialized materials are much more expensive compared to the cost of regular class material.

In order to promote inclusive education and give opportunity to deaf and blind children to get education, USAID Mali launched in 2017 its five-year Inclusion of Deaf and Blind Children into Mainstream School Project.  The project works to increase access to a quality education for disabled children, especially deaf and blind children by testing adapted, innovative and efficient strategies to successfully enroll deaf and blind children into mainstream schools. It also ensures learning achievements in reading and writing. 

Korotoumou Sangare, aged 9, was born with severe hearing loss.  The doctors started different treatments to save her hearing, but it was too late. “We were seriously worried about her education. All kids from our compound were going to school. Although I knew there was a specialized school for deaf children in Sikasso, we took her to this school only for one year because the school was too far from home. In addition, with my work, I could not accompany my daughter to school and make back and forth trips”, explains sadly Salif Sangare, Korotoumou’s father. 

Therefore, Korotoumou’s parents decided to give priority to her safety and took her out of school. “Since then, every morning my daughter cried when she saw her brothers and sisters going to school without her. We, as parents, felt so bad”, adds Sangare.

The project identifies deaf and blind children like Korotoumou and helps enroll them into mainstream schools closest to their homes. It also organizes campaigns to educate families so that they facilitate the social and educational integration of deaf and blind children among their peers and teachers at school. About 50 parents have been trained in sign language, Braille and life skills, which enable them to provide support to their children at home. The project also provided 51 deaf and blind children with school kits.  Additionally, the project trained 55 teachers, school principals and pedagogical advisers in sign language, Braille, on differentiated pedagogy, and on the use of inclusive lesson preparation sheets.

Korotoumou
Korotoumou on her way to school
Inclusion of Deaf and Blind Children into Mainstream School Project

Thanks to USAID’s support, 51 deaf and blind children including 35 deaf children got enrolled in school giving them the opportunity for a better future. Today Korotoumou feels just like other kids and going to school is no more an out-of-reach dream for her. “My daughter is so happy and performs well at school. She is at the 3rd grade of the primary school “, says her father proudly.

Last updated: February 18, 2020

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