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SIGHTSAVERS: “Children with disabilities have the right to education”

Copyright Javier Acebal/Sightsavers 2018

Khady is headmistress of Serigne Aliou Cissé inclusive school in Kaolack, Senegal.
“I have been a teacher for 40 years. I have been teaching in the inclusive school since October 2017.

“For more than 20 years, I was advocating with the authorities for children with disabilities and their right to have an education. I had been fighting for girls’ schooling because at that time parents would not allow their daughters to go to school. I met so many children with disabilities who were not going to school and there was no institution to welcome them. So I started fighting for that aim.

“Our school is the first inclusive school in Kaolack, and the fourth in Senegal. It became an inclusive school in 2017. I’m so proud and it’s an honour, as I had been fighting for so long for my school to be chosen to be an inclusive school. It is a great achievement for me.

“We worked on cartography, braille training, psychology and the mobility of blind people. Sightsavers helped us a lot. They offered training to the teachers and we received special tablets and punches for braille typing. They gave us calculators, braille papers [and other equipment]. They also helped us with the children’s medical care.

“We also needed functional toilets and materials for their mathematics courses. And I have been in charge of bringing lunch from home and sharing it with the children and their teachers – [otherwise] they would have been obliged to go back and forth. Their transport is also an issue.

“During the first week there were three children who used to cry because they didn’t want to come to school, but now they are telling me that they should be coming even on Saturday and Sunday; they end up liking the school! There’s total inclusion, they play with the others, and you can see that they are self-confident. They no longer have the barriers.

“I’m very happy [to see it] as a mother. I personally wanted to see children with and without disabilities together, playing and studying. We can see that children without disabilities are not smarter than them. So that makes me so proud. And I can say that in my career I have learned new things.

“Children with disabilities have the right to education like all the other children. As I’m used to telling parents, physical disability is not a sickness. Disabled children can have a chance to succeed and become important people in the country.”

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