Suzanne Lagan, International Communications Manager
Deaf Child Worldwide, our international arm, is a member of the coalition Global Campaign for Education (GCE), a global organisation working to ensure quality education for all children. GCE runs the Send My Friend campaign, bringing together thousands of children across the UK to speak up for the right to education, and remind world leaders of their promise that all children should get the chance to go to school.
Each year, two Young Ambassadors are selected to act as spokespeople, raise awareness and encourage schools across the UK to get involved in Send My Friend campaign. Jessica and Samina, both 15 from Loughborough won a national competition to become this year’s Young Ambassadors thanks to their passion to be part of change. Last year, they invited their local MP Nicky Morgan to the Send My Friend 2015 Day of Action, where the school used drama and music to highlight the challenges preventing millions of children worldwide from getting an education.
Samina and Jessica at Njathaini Primary School in Nairobi
As part of their role as 2016 Young Ambassadors, Jessica and Samina travelled to Kenya in February to visit Deaf Child Worldwide projects and meet with deaf children, teachers and Government officials to investigate the barriers facing deaf children in accessing quality education. Children with disabilities are hugely over-represented among the estimated 121 million not in school worldwide and campaigners say as few as one in six of children with disabilities are in school in Kenya.
The Young Ambassadors were struck by the disparity between existing policies and what was happening on the ground. While the Kenyan government has made primary education free and compulsory for all children, and is committed by law to providing the settings, teachers and resources that children – including those with disabilities – it became clear during the week that in reality there are still facing challenges in accessing quality education.
Jessica and Samina visited different schools and were shocked to see some deaf children in classes with up to 80 children, with no hearing assistive technology, being taught by teachers with little to no sign language or deaf awareness. They also visited schools with a deaf unit supported by Deaf Child Worldwide where smaller classes means more intensive support. Deaf Child Worldwide employs a deaf teacher to work alongside the class teacher, not only to help with sign language and communication support but also to act as a deaf role model, challenging prevailing negative stereotypes among families and communities that deaf people can’t achieve such a profession.
You can read more about the week and watch the video here.
Following the visit, Jessica and Samina are fired up to campaign for a quality education for all. They presented at last week’s NUT conference and will continue to lobby MP Nicky Morgan, other MPs and schools across the UK to get involved in this year’s Send My Friend to School Campaign.