Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hope of Proper Education for Iraq's Disabled Children after Discrimination and Neglect

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hope of Proper Education for Iraq's Disabled Children after Discrimination and Neglect

Article excerpt

Byline: Martin Bentham in Fallujah, Iraq

THOUSANDS of children in Iraq who are barred from taking exams because they are disabled are to be the focus of a new campaign to stop their education being wrecked by discrimination.

Under existing Iraqi law, disabled pupils are not permitted to take national exams, which prevents them from progressing at school in the same way as their able-bodied peers.

Other obstacles to their success include a lack of facilities to help them overcome their disabilities and the failure of some schools to adopt simple measures such as teaching on the ground floor of buildings.

The problems are further compounded by a culture of low expectations and a tendency for some families to keep their disabled children at home to work. But in an attempt to improve the situation, a new "national inclusive education strategy", drawn up by the British Council in conjunction with Iraq's education ministry, is now being implemented.

As well as legal changes to end the exam discrimination, it will lead to the training of hundreds of staff in the best methods for teaching disabled pupils and a drive to encourage parents to send such children to classes. The benefits are already being felt, including at Anwar Fallujah Deaf and Dumb Care school in the city of Fallujah. It was set up a decade ago by tailor Shareef Farhan, who has four children with hearing and speech problems.

He taught them initially at his shop in the city, about 45 miles from Baghdad, but decided to set up the school after finding that other parents were bringing their disabled children to him for help. …

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