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Understanding the rights of children with disabilities and promoting education and inclusion

Celebrating the Day of the African Child on 16th June provides an opportunity to raise awareness of current issues that prevent African children from accessing education today. We also honour the uprising that took place in Soweto, South Africa in 1976. On 16th June 1976, 10,000 black school children marched through the streets protesting against the lack of quality education for African children - a march that tragically ended in bloodshed.

Access to education is essential to the development of all children, and across ChildHope's work in Asia, Africa and South America. Last year, the Day of the African Child raised awareness of the barriers to education experienced by street children, promoting a change in attitudes towards children whose lives are connected to street situations. This year the Day of the African Child asks us to consider the "The Rights of Children with Disabilities: The Duty to Protect, Respect, Promote and Fulfil." ChildHope recognises that in order to make education available to all children, those living with a disability, be it physical or psychosocial, must be fully recognised as part of society and not separate from it.

Addressing inclusion with our partners
ChildHope believes all children should live a life free from injustice and abuse. An important aspect of our work focuses on changing people's attitudes and behaviours towards children and young people in a variety of contexts. As part of this, ChildHope is developing a "social model" in which we aim to ensure disabled children's needs and rights are recognised, in the same way as any other child. This has already begun to take place in recent training sessions with our partners in Ethiopia and Sierra Leone.
A changing view of disability
The view of disability has changed over time. Previously it was primarily regarded as a medical condition. It is now more fully recognised from a social view - as the lack of understanding towards human difference in society. This is not to say that children and young people do not have medical disabilities. However, the main causes of disability in Africa are caused by preventable diseases such as meningitis and cerebral malaria, armed conflict resulting in physical and emotional damage, and nutritional deprivation leading to the development of conditions such as Spina Bifida. Although the view that all disabled people are part of society is finally widely accepted the task still remains in some countries to challenge the attitude in society towards children living with disabilities.
Promoting universal access to education
Currently ChildHope is supporting partners in Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kenya and Sierra Leone to help make primary education universally available to all African children, without discrimination. In Uganda our partner is working to reduce abuse and violence in the schools to lower the rate of school drop-outs and absenteeism. In Ethiopia our partner supports those children at risk of early marriage and risky migration, helping them to return to and remain in education.

By supporting ChildHope you can help to transform the lives of vulnerable children, including street and working children, as well as strengthening local communities in Asia, Africa and South America.

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