Last week, the Palestinian Minister of Social Development Dr Ibrahim Shaer, and Country Director of the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) Jennifer Moorehead, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU). This document sets out a general framework for how Save the Children will support the Ministry with their work for children with disabilities, child protection (including child detainees and ex-detainees) and child labour. The MoU is a continuation of the previous MoU (2013-2016) and will last for three years.
Save the Children also took the opportunity to provide 25 laptops to students (16-21 years) at the Ministry of Social Development in Ramallah, West Bank. These computers have software to support students with visual impairments to continue their education.
On receiving his laptop, 17 year old Ahmed* said, 'Honestly, I'm so happy to get a laptop today. I've never had technology like this before but I've had the training so I know how to use it. I think this laptop will help me to continue my studies and projects like this will help others like me.' Ahmed hopes to study media studies.
The delivery of the laptops is part of the 'Inclusivity for all' project. The project works to improve access to education for vulnerable children by implementing awareness raising to address societal biases towards children with disabilities, as well as rehabilitating, furnishing and equipping schools to become more inclusive. This year, Save the Children is also finalising the computerisation of a case management system for children with disabilities and delivering training to all relevant ministries on how to use the new system.
Children with disabilities are often excluded from formal education and the literacy rate among those with disabilities is extremely high. In oPt, there are approximately 23,800 children with disabilities according to a recent report. Of these children, only 8,000 are in school and only 2,000 are in specialised schools. The literacy rate among disabled individuals is a staggering low 53.1%. In fact, 37.6% of disabled individuals aged 15 and above never enrolled in schools, and of the children whom enrolled in schools, approximately 33.8% dropped out of schools for various reasons including not being supported by the school's learning environment.
Save the Children aims to ensure that all children in highly marginalized areas in oPt join, remain at, and develop their knowledge and skills at schools regardless of their differences and disabilities. With the UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities coming up on the 3 December, it is vital that the international community seize the opportunity to highlight this important issue.
*names changed to protect identity.