Deaf children in poor communities have the right to a world class education too

In the international development community, there is a lot of talk about how we can create a genuine, meaningful, inclusive education for disabled children. It’s one of the great injustices still to be tackled.

While significant strides have been made to get more children, in particular girls, into school, disabled children in some of the world’s poorest communities still fall way behind. There is a lot of discussion about why this is happening, but little done to improve the learning environment for disabled children who all have very different needs.

At Deaf Child Worldwide, we have been working for 18 years with partners large and small, urban and rural, across East Africa and South Asia, to get some of the world’s 34 million deaf children into school and receiving a quality education.

While huge challenges exist, not least a lack of funding, a lack of commitment from governments, and a lack of high quality infrastructure to make it possible, we’re working on many projects that make a meaningful impact on deaf children’s education.

Delivering a model school for deaf children in Bangladesh

In Bangladesh, we’ve worked with local partners to develop a program that means deaf children get the education they need while they still go to a mainstream school with hearing children in their community.

Delivered across 35 primary schools and 17 secondary schools in every district of Bangladesh, groups of deaf children are now coming together to be educated, often for the very first time.

Teachers are trained and given the skills they need to communicate with these children. We invest in training teachers to learn basic Bangla Sign Language, to be deaf aware, and to adapt teaching methods and materials in the classroom so that lessons can be more easily understood by deaf pupils.

Having small groups of deaf children in one school also means their disability is no longer invisible. Deaf children meet other children going through the same experiences as them and friendships and support networks form. But on top of these benefits, we’ve also seen drop-out rates for deaf children plummet in these schools to almost zero.