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Breaking Educational Barriers in India

‘Project Satyabhama’ in India is not just providing an education for children with cerebral palsy, but is improving many other aspects of their lives. It is a worthy winner of the 2017 World Cerebral Palsy Day Education Award.

This project was a World Cerebral Palsy Day Award winner in 2017. Enter your project or campaign in the 2018 Awards!

The project

This community-based rehabilitation project is run by Aaina, a non-government organisation (NGO) based in Odisha, India. Aaina is one of the leading non-government organizations in the field of disability and inclusion in the region.

The focus of Project Satyabhama is the creation of barrier free environments to accessing schools and local Anganwadi Centres (mother and child community centres) for children with disabilities such as cerebral palsy.

Operating in 95 villages across the Dhenkanal District, the project aims to address the low school attendance of children with disabilities, and overcome attitudinal problems towards children with a disability amongst Anganwadi workers.

These problems result in a lack of support for families, and in the educational and therapeutic needs of children with cerebral palsy going unmet.

The plan

The project relies on the identification of children with disabilities, with a focus on children with cerebral palsy.

To do this, Anganwadi workers have been specially trained regarding the identification and management of children with disabilities.

Training programs have also been run for teachers on inclusive education and classroom management. Sessions were tailored for parents on their child’s right to inclusive education, as well as teaching home management strategies.

Discussion and consultation occurred with decision makers and other key members of the community regarding the rights of children with disability (particularly cerebral palsy) in terms of health, education and rehabilitation.

The project also aimed to build capacity in Panchayat Raj Institution (PRI) members for linkage with different schemes and entitlements for children with disability such as disability pension and relevant allowances.

Working together

Beneficial links have been established with rehabilitation organisations such as the District Disability Rehabilitation Centre and National Institute for Rehabilitation Training and Research for identification and assessment camps, fitment of aids and therapeutic services for children with disabilities.

Aaina also work in association with Sarva Sikhya Abhiyan (SSA) to create inclusive education conditions for children with disabilities in the mainstream education system. This work includes sensitisation workshops and mobilising scholarships.

Children’s clubs are also run in partnership with Save the Children, with the aim of giving a voice to excluded children and to promoting their rights.

“Through the creation of Children’s Clubs, structure for children with disability was created, and their skills were enhanced through different activities,” an Aaina worker explains.

Key achievements

The project team estimates that to date, approximately 50 children with cerebral palsy have directly benefited from being involved in this project.

School attendance for these children has improved and their parents, teachers and Anganwadi workers are more actively supporting them in terms of education and rehabilitation.

The father of a child involved in the project testifies to the positive outcomes they have experienced:

“Earlier my child used to sit alone in the classroom and no one was taking care of him. But after the counselling of children in Children’s Club about child rights, and talking with teachers on the right to education, within the teachers’ training, my child is attending the school regularly with his friends and teachers are showing a positive attitude towards my child.”

Parents are now proactively engaging with schemes and entitlements such as the Banishree scholarship, disability pension and contributions toward assistive devices. Through the provision of therapeutic services and aids there has also been a dramatic improvement in the level of mobility of children with cerebral palsy.

All of these things directly benefit the overall quality of life for the children involved in Project Satyabhama.

Where to from here

Aaina plan to expand Project Satyabhama to meet a wider geographical area to enable broader influence and impact.

There are also plans develop programs that not only focus on access to education for children with cerebral palsy, but also enhance their life skills to improve independence.