Souleymane Chapiou, 13 years old, is in fourth grade at a school for pupils with visual disabilities. Through the materials provided by HI, he has easily adapted to the school environment and is studying hard to become a teacher. He draws his strength from his dream: to see the day when all children have access to quality education.
The right to education
Souleymane comes from a modest family and lives with his parents and brothers. When he was about two years old and just starting to walk, his mother noticed that he had difficulty finding his bearings when breastfeeding or moving around the house. Gradually, the lens in his left eye darkened until it became reddish. Shortly afterwards, his right eye also became infected. Today, Souleymane has difficulty identifying objects, even at close range.
It was during an awareness-raising campaign on education for children with disabilities organised by HI's community workers in Maradi that the family became aware of the boy's right to education. Souleymane's father decided to enrol him at Ceinture Verte, a school for children with vision loss.
Driving inclusion forward
Souleymane is happy at school and loves to study. His favourite subject is history, and every morning he asks his teacher for a new lesson.
To help him study, HI has provided him with adapted learning materials: a tablet, a punch, cubarites (dice-shaped tools used for arithmetic), dominoes, toys and an adapted computer. HI also organises festive events: fun and informative get-togethers between pupils with and without disabilities from different schools. Awareness-raising sketches, sports competitions and exchanges are organised between children with and without disabilities, so that they can meet and get to know each other.
“I'd like to say a very sincere thank you to everyone who worked so hard to get me into school, because without them, I'd probably be on the streets. When I grow up, I'm going to fight for the education of all children with disabilities, especially those with visual disabilities, and for our schools to become more and more inclusive. My dream is to become a teacher and give children with disabilities the chance to access their right to a quality education.”
HI's socio-economic inclusion and inclusive education project in Maradi is possible thanks to funding from the Luxembourg Ministry of Foreign Affairs, NORAD and UNICEF. Since its launch in 2017, it has provided more than 80 schools with adapted teaching and learning materials, identified nearly 5,000 children with disabilities for personalised support and trained nearly 600 teachers in inclusive education, sign language and Braille. In addition, 380 parents have been informed about deafness and introduced to sign language, and almost 50,000 parents and community members have been made aware of and trained in disability and inclusive education. A further 260 people from the public services and the professional world have been shown how to welcome people with disabilities. Finally, 35 educational advisers have been trained and 80 young people with disabilities have benefited from appropriate vocational training.