Children with disabilities are one of the many marginalized groups in the world that often face discrimination. In many countries, cultural beliefs dictate that disabilities arise from the influences of past lives, supernatural forces or the past actions of a parent.
Education is one of the most effective ways of not only breaking these myths, but also breaking the cycle of discrimination experienced by children with disabilities. According to information gathered from the Global Disability Rights Now, approximately 5.8 percent of Vietnam’s population, 5,203,180 people, are living with disabilities. Of these, 23.3 percent are children with disabilities in Vietnam under the age of 19.
Disabled children are less likely to finish or even begin school for many reasons, including gaining little to no access to adequate learning materials, having a lack of trained professionals who understand their needs and having no proper facilities to attend school. Denying these children the right to education not only impacts their learning, but also any hinders any chances of employment opportunities and social and personal development. In order for all children to benefit from basic human rights without facing prejudice, disability inclusion needs to be integrated into all policies and plans devised by a country.
The World Bank has shown support for integrating inclusive education practices for children with disabilities through lending projects and activities. One of the programs implemented for children with disabilities in Vietnam is the Vietnam Intergenerational Deaf Education Outreach Project (IDEO). Under the IDEO, sign language is taught to deaf children and their families in the comfort of their own homes by a mentor who is hearing impaired, a sign language interpreter and a teacher who can hear.
Evaluations documented and recorded from the project showed that using sign language helped to improve deaf children’s language and cognitive development and also their ability to communicate with others. The outreach project has also helped more than 50 deaf adults become mentors to children who are hearing impaired, trained approximately 200 hearing teachers to use sign language in order to effectively support deaf children and instructed more than 50 hearing people as communication facilitators or sign-language interpreters.
The implementation of the IDEO project has strengthened school involvement and organizations in backing the education of deaf children, and has also opened a new method to teaching sign language for these children with disabilities in Vietnam. With the support of similar projects being integrated in the near future, the gap for achievement for disabled children will hopefully decrease.
– Zainab Adebayo