UK Government supporting deaf children in developing countries

When the global community comes together to tackle a problem – the results can be incredible. Fighting for girls’ education. Fighting the illegal wildlife trade. Taking on modern day slavery. All huge issues, all seeing a concerted global effort to stop them in their tracks.

Joanna Clark, Director

Joanna Clark, Director of Deaf Child Worldwide

The challenges facing disabled people in developing countries are no less great, and Penny Mordaunt is leading the way in breaking down the barriers they face.

Today she launched a far reaching, global strategy, with ambitious aims, and an even more ambitious vision for disabled people in some of the poorest parts of the world.

We know that 90% of disabled children in developing countries never go to school. Among the deaf children we work with at Deaf Child Worldwide, isolation is commonplace, exclusion is driving and entrenching poverty, and business as usual is no longer an option.

But while we celebrate the launch of today’s strategy, we should be under no illusion about how tough the journey ahead will be, and how much innovation, collaboration and ingenuity it will take. Translating this strategy into a practical roadmap for improving the lives of disabled people all over the world will not happen overnight.

But what today does demonstrate is that the human rights of a deaf child, excluded from school and isolated from their family, will now be a priority for the UK Government.

Send My Friend – Campaigning for Education for All

NDCS Campaigns Blog - Suzanne Lagan, Deaf Child Worldwide

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 the suburbs of Nairobi, Kenya.

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.

International Week of the Deaf 2015

NDCS Campaigns Blog - Suzanne Lagan, Deaf Child Worldwide

Suzanne Lagan, International Communications Coordinator

Every year International Week of the Deaf brings together organisations around the world with a shared interest in raising awareness of deaf people. It’s a great opportunity for organisations to coordinate their efforts and speak up about the challenges and issues facing deaf people around the world. It also presents the chance to celebrate the achievements and successes of deaf children and young people.

Our international arm, Deaf Child Worldwide have been working closely with partner organisations in South Asia, East Africa and Latin America in planning a range of events, activities and campaigns throughout the week to make this the biggest deaf awareness week to date.Childreach TZ sign language competition

Cultural activities planned throughout the week include sign language and drawing competitions and football tournaments to integrate deaf and hearing peers and showcase talent. Rallies, marches, radio shows and speeches aim to raise awareness among wider communities.

In South Asia, our partner Centre for Disability and Development kicked off their programme of activities with a rally in Dhaka which saw over 100 people march from the Bangladesh National Federation of the Deaf office through the capital’s busiest streets ending at the National Press Club.

Our partner Deaf Empowerment Kenya (DEK) are facilitating a visit from UK MP’s Mark Williams, Chris Heaton-Harris, Mike Wood and Lorde Low of Dalston who are in Kenya to look at barriers to basic education for children and young people with disabilities, and the progress Kenya is making towards education for all. The delegates will spend an afternoon at a deaf unit in a primary school in Nairobi’s slum area meeting with children supported to achieve an education and parents accessing vital communication skills through sign language lessons.1.1. Rally is moving through the busy streets of Dhaka City. edited

In Latin America, a regional parent’s network made up of parents groups in four countries: Ecuador, Peru, Colombia and Bolivia, are launching their campaign, “Right to Communication and Sign Language.” Marlen, President of the Regional Parents group commented, “We are really excited to be launching this campaign during deaf awareness week. We will be going out to communities visiting schools, hospitals and police stations throughout the week distributing posters and information to raise awareness and highlight how we can work together to support the inclusion of deaf children in our communities.”

You can keep up to date with what’s happening throughout the week and help us to spread the word:

Twitter: @NDCS_UK  #IWD2015 and #DeafchildWW

Instagram: NDCS_UK

Deaf Child Worldwide – #Drawdisability

NDCS Campaigns Blog - Suzanne Lagan, Deaf Child Worldwide

Suzanne Lagan, International Publications and Communications Coordinator

Recently at Deaf Child Worldwide, we have been encouraging our partners to get involved in the #Drawdisability campaign, a timely campaign as we approach the deadline for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s). #Drawdisability urges young people across the world to share their views on what disability looks like to them. The aim is twofold: to encourage people to discuss the issues around disability and to use art as a global tool to do this. This campaign was launched by the United Nations Secretary-General’s Global Education First Initiative (GEFI), in partnership with the Global Observatory for Inclusion (GLOBI) and the United Nations Global Education First Initiative Youth Advocacy Group (GEFI-YAG).

We’re delighted that our partner organizations in India and Ecuador have seized this opportunity to raise awareness of the issues facing young deaf people, too often invisible when talking about disability on a global scale.

Suchrito-Swain-picture-1-small#Drawdisability has not only given people the opportunity to express their views and be heard, but it has also presented a great chance for budding artists to showcase their skills.

16 year Swastik Jana in Kolkata believes that it’s important for deaf children to be supported in an environment where they are comfortable and feel included so that they can learn. His drawing, ‘inclusive education’ shows a number of young deaf people engaged in learning in an open environment.

14 year old, Suchrito Swain’s from West Bengal, shares his view on what inclusive education means to him through his drawing of a classroom that has the appropriate layout and materials needed to include deaf children in their learning.

Master-Swastik-Jana-picture-2-smallThese drawings, among others, will be showcased at the World Education Forum in May in Incheon, South Korea, when some of the most influential organisations will come together to review the progress around MDG’s and to agree on future priorities in accessing quality education for all. They will then be exhibited in June in New York when world figures attending the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will get the chance, not only to see these drawings, but also a glimpse into the perspective of disability from young people across the world.

You will soon be able to vote also for your favourite so keep up to date with the latest developments on twitter #Drawdisability and #DeafchildWW

International Week of the Deaf

NDCS Campaigns Blog - Suzanne Lagan, Deaf Child Worldwide

Suzanne Lagan, International Communications Coordinator

22nd – 29th September, is International Week of the Deaf 2014. Many of Deaf Child Worldwide partner organisations will mark this week with a range of events and activities to raise awareness of deafness around the world. With the spotlight already on the issue, many of our partners are taking this opportunity to campaign for rights and improved services for deaf people around the world.

Samuha, a Deaf Child Worldwide partner in Karntaka, India have planned a procession expected to be attended by over 500 people. The procession will end at the Tahasildar (revenue administrative office), where they will present a memorandum reminding the Government of their commitments to deaf people including provision of housing and hearing week of the deaf

Across the country in West Bengal, Deaf Child Worldwide partner organisation SUK are leading a workshop on the development and empowerment of persons with disability. Over 200 attendees are expected including the State Commissioner of Disabilities of West Bengal State and other Government officials, making this an excellent opportunity to raise awareness, to highlight needs of deaf people and to hold Governments accountable.

In Kenya, we support the development of a Young Deaf Advocacy Group through our partner Undugu, who have arranged meetings with key stakeholders including the Ministry of Youth Affairs to discuss the need for inclusive programmes to support deaf youth.

This is just a snapshot into some of the exciting campaigning activities planned throughout the week across the world. Please follow us on twitter #DeafchildWW and our website for more news throughout the week.

Around the world with NDCS: campaigning for education internationally

NDCS Campaigns Blog - Suzanne Lagan, Deaf Child Worldwide

Suzanne Lagan, International Publications and Communications Coordinator, Deaf Child Worldwide.

Last time Deaf Child Worldwide (DCW) blogged we told you all about our work in Ecuador. This time we’d like to share with you how we’re campaigning to tackle the barriers that prevent young people in developing countries from going to school.

DCW and education
Despite the Millennium Development Goal of achieving universal primary education by 2015, there are still 57 million primary-aged children out of school, 19 million of whom have disabilities.

Many barriers exclude children with disabilities from education; you can read more about these here.

NDCS - MDG 2, education

So, DCW recently joined the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), a multilateral partnership of nearly 60 developing countries, donor governments, international organizations, private sector, teachers, and civil society groups dedicated to ensuring all children receive a good quality education so that they can fulfil their potential.

The big win
GPE recently held an international conference in Brussels where it called on donors to financially reaffirm their commitment to achieving this goal. Their call to action was hugely successful:

  • Participants pledged more than US$28.5 billion new funding by 2018
  • The UK’s Department for International Development pledged up to £300 million to the GPE over the next four years, with Lynne Featherstone commenting “the UK is the biggest supporter of primary and lower secondary education in the developing world and our renewed commitment to the Global Partnership will help millions of children get the education they need.
  • Seven Calls to Action were agreed by delegates, including a commitment to “concrete targeted actions from actors at all levels… to turn inclusion [of children with disabilities] into a reality”.

NDCS is proud that DCW is part of such an exciting partnership and, if you would like to help us to create a world without barriers for deaf children, join our Campaigns Network today!

Around the world with NDCS: a spotlight on Ecuador

NDCS Campaigns Blog - Suzanne Lagan, Deaf Child Worldwide

Suzanne Lagan, International Publications and Communications Coordinator, Deaf Child Worldwide

There are over 32 million deaf children in the world, with the majority living in developing countries. The National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) targets deaf children and young people living in some of the world’s poorest communities through our international arm, Deaf Child Worldwide.

In Ecuador we work with DHEX and Fé y Alegría, two organisations who hold campaigning at the heart of their work. They recently organised the first national exchange in Ecuador, an event seeking to increase awareness of how to best communicate with deaf children and to defend the rights of deaf children.

The ex-Minster of Education facilitated the event which saw 20 teachers and 15 parents of deaf children come together from across the country to discuss their experiences teaching deaf children. Despite disability laws in Ecuador demanding that teachers of the deaf (ToDs) should provide a bilingual education for children, the Government does not offer any sign language training or support to ToDs. This, combined with the lack of resources available for supporting the education of deaf children in Ecuador, renders the work of ToDs extremely challenging.

NDCS Campaigns Blog - DCW Ecuador Exchange


Lessons learned and next steps

The teachers found it extremely useful to discuss these common challenges and share their learning, and expressed their interest in forming a support network with the aim to develop a regional network.

The parents group also found it invaluable to share experiences and talk about pertinent issues such as child rights and the need for quality education. Parents left feeling empowered with one commenting, “I learnt that we need to increase awareness and take responsibility for our children so that their rights are heard…I will continue to study sign language and I will motivate parents and share what I learnt at this workshop.”

Following this exchange, parents groups across the capital, Quito, have decided to come together as ‘The Association of Families of Deaf Children’ to ensure that the rights of deaf children are addressed and upheld in all Government policies and to monitor whether the Ministry of Education is undertaking actions to strengthen bilingual education for deaf children. Civil society organisations are legally recognised in Ecuador so they can formally monitor Government plans and their adherence to policies and laws. As such, this group should have a positive long-term impact on the lives of deaf children and young people in Ecuador. We are delighted to have been involved in this process and are looking forward to hearing how this will progress.