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Sonia, who is deaf, can go to school


Inclusion | Nepal | PUBLISHED ON September 9th 2021
Soni in her classroom.

Soni in her class | © HI

Soni is 13 years old and lives in Banke. She was born with a hearing impairment. HI supported her to go to school like any child.

In Nepal, HI and its partners have helped 1,500 adolescent girls with disabilities to go back to school since 2017.

Soni’s Story

Soni is second among the eight siblings in her family. As a child, she was ignored by her parents as she could not communicate due to her hearing difficulties.

As she got older, her family started to see that she had a strong passion to learn and go to school. So she was enrolled to a nearby school for her pre-primary level education.

Though regular at school, she had to drop out: There were no teachers able to use sign language, or supported by sign language interpreters. The information was not presented in way adapted to children with hearing impairment (using a more visual way to teach, with posters/ flashcards, etc., for example). It was impossible for her to follow and understand the class.


Soni alone at home

Soni used to spend her days doing daily household chores such as feeding cattle, cleaning, cooking and even helping her parents in the field... She developed her own taught sign language to communicate with her parents, brothers and sisters at home. She was not comfortable in communicating with others as she did not know a sign language that others understood.


The “bridge class”

But thanks to HI and its local partners, Soni was enrolled her into a “bridge class”, which is an informal class run for a 9-month period for out-of-school children in her community.

Soni’s “bridge class” teacher supported her to learn basic numbers, letters and words in the class. She loves writing and her handwriting is neat and very clear. She is also fond of drawing the things around her.

“Soni’s situation is sadly very typical of the situation faced by many children with disabilities:  education is not adapted for their needs, and parents may believe there is no point in sending their children to   school and they worry that their children won’t be able to keep up with the lessons. Unfortunately, this means that many children spend many years at home, and eventually they may be enrolled in school but they are usually overage by then and are much older than their peers in the first grade. This in turn means it’s even more likely they will drop out of school and not continue their learning.”, HI Inclusive Education Expert Julia Mc Geown.


Back to school

Community volunteers also visited her house to help explain the benefits of education for children with disabilities to her parents.

Eventually Soni joined a  mainstream inclusive school last year in a resource class attached the mainstream school,  which supports learners who are deaf to develop sign language skills in addition to teaching the regular school curriculum.

Soni is very happy with the change that has happened in her life and is determined to continue her studies. Nowadays, Soni is involved in various extra activities such as catch up classes, playing games with her friends and craft, etc.



HI in Nepal

Between 2017-2020, thanks to HI and local partners:

  • 45,500 children were screened to identify their functional limitations. HI provided them rehabilitation care, assistive devices, hearing equipment, etc.
  • 1,463 out of school marginalized girls age group 10-19 were reintegrated into mainstream schools,
  • 707 children received educational support and were referred to a specialized service,
  • 1,823 teachers were trained on inclusive education.  

Children with disabilities and access to school in the world

  • Over 32 million school-aged children with disabilities are estimated to be out of school worldwide. (Education commission report, 2016).

  • The unprecedented impact of COVID-19 on education systems worldwide. By early May 2020, 177 countries had closed all schools due to COVID-19, impacting over 1.2 billion children and youth. This is 73% of total enrolled learners across the globe. One year later, over 888 million continue to face disruptions to their education due to full and partial school closures.

HI and inclusion Education

  • In 2020, HI gave access to education to 365 000 children with disabilities.
  • HI implements 48 projects to include children with disabilities in school in 27 countries, in West, Central, North and East Africa, the Middle East and Asia, including 15 projects in emergency contexts.

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