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Disabled children given primary school boost

750 disabled students in Zambia will have the chance to join more than 33,000 others who have benefited from a charity’s work across Africa and Asia.

With disabled children in many African countries facing stigma and isolation, Leonard Cheshire has secured funding from The Swedish Postcode Lottery, The Peter Cundill Foundation and Stavros Niarchos Foundation for a new three-year education project in Zambia.

The project involves disabled and non-disabled children learning together, training teachers to teach them together and reducing prejudice about disabilities.

In developing countries, 90% of children with disabilities do not attend school according to UNICEF and this is particularly acute amongst disabled girls, who can also be subject to abuse and sexual violence as a result of their disability. Marie Dahllöf, Secretary General of the Swedish Postcode Foundation, said:

There are over 600,000 children in Zambia with disabilities but less than half of them have attended school.

As well as benefiting the children across 30 primary schools in eastern Zambia, the programme will train 100 teachers and education officials. It will also work with parents and pupils, running clubs that encourage families with disabled children to find support in their neighbours.

Confirming the new funds, Tiziana Oliva, Executive Director, Leonard Cheshire International, said:

It’s always satisfying to see our reach broaden into new areas.  It’s indicative of the success of our inclusive education model that more disabled children are benefitting from a positive start in life provided by primary education.

The three funders have already provided financial support for a programme based on the highly successful model used across Africa and Asia that has seen nearly 33,000 children with disabilities enrolled and retained at primary school.

In Zambia alone, Leonard Cheshire has facilitated the inclusion of just over 1,500 children across 60 schools in previous programmes across the Southern, Lusaka and Kafue provinces.

Picture from Leonard Cheshire

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Founder Member of Campaign Collective, chair of the Public Relations & Communications Association Charity and Not-For-Profit Group. Write mainly about charity, public sector and social enterprise communications.