Children at Beach Camp: The third largest of the Gaza Strip’s eight refugee camps – and one of the most crowded – Beach camp is known locally as "Shati". The camp is on the Mediterranean coast in the Gaza City area. According to United Nations Beach camp | © Till Mayer / HI
In the lead-up to the United Nations’ Transforming Education Summit (19 September), Humanity & Inclusion and partners are carrying out the social-media campaign #DoYourHomework. Through this campaign, we are calling on national and global leaders to take concrete steps to include all learners, and ensure that children and youth with disabilities are not left out of the Summit and its outcomes.
In low-and-middle income countries, about 50% of children with disabilities are out of school. Behind the numbers are the people, with their unique life experiences, struggles, hopes, and projects. Humanity & Inclusion recently collected the stories of six children with disabilities in Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and the occupied Palestine territory. A factsheet containing all these stories and accompanying data will be released on the occasion of the Transforming Education Summit, with a call to scale-up efforts now.
Here you can find the story of Nur. You will meet Sherif, Malek, Layla, Amir, and Hala soon.
Nur* is an 11-year old girl who lives in the West Bank and has Down syndrome. She is a happy and outgoing child who has some difficulties in understanding and being understood. Nur is currently enrolled in a mainstream school, which she transferred to, after completing first and second grade in a different mainstream school.
|Nur is in school, but not all girls with disabilities are. According to UNICEF (2018), in the occupied Palestinian territory 36.6% of girls with disabilities between the ages of 10 and 15 are out-of-school, compared to 26.3% of boys with disabilities.|
Her mother’s decision to transfer Nur to a different school was due to several challenges that she faced. For example, in the first school there was a very rigid school curriculum that did not take children’s’ different learning abilities into account, and there was limited teachers’ awareness and capacity to welcome and fully support Nur in the classroom. Her mother shares: “I felt that my child was just a number in the class and that the teachers did not believe there was a point in teaching her, because of the misconception that a child with Down syndrome cannot learn, by default”.
|Parents interviewed by Humanity & Inclusion in the occupied Palestinian territory highlighted that a girl with disabilities is more exposed to teachers’ bias or discrimination than a boy with disabilities.|
Nur and her mother report that in her previous school, physical punishments were quite widespread and combined with other forms of maltreatment: Nur was often yelled at, excluded from activities, or expelled from the classroom without justification. Nur also experienced bullying by her schoolmates. She recalls that once her pocket money was taken by children standing in line at the canteen and that she was repeatedly asked to clean the school playground alone. Nur adds: “I did not feel safe while waiting outside the school for my parents to pick me up”.
|The study conducted by Humanity & Inclusion in the occupied Palestinian territory found that there is a widely shared perception that children with disabilities are weak, powerless, vulnerable and that they are seen as targets of attacks, insults, and bullying.|
Nur’s experience has drastically improved in her new school which follows an inclusive education model. It has a resource room supporting learners with disabilities with additional small group teaching, where Nur is now included in all education and recreational activities. The resource room’s teacher has been tasked with developing an individualized education program for Nur, and the other teachers are ready to accommodate Nur’s needs too, for example by giving her more frequent breaks.
Nur says that she would like to be a teacher just like her mother and her teacher.
Show your support and amplify the #DoYourHomework campaign on social media. You can access campaign materials here. We call on decision-makers to do the right thing: take actions for the inclusion all learners!
*not her real name.