Education is a gateway towards a fulfilling future, equipping the next generation with the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to lead a life of their choosing. But for children with disabilities, one of the most marginalised minorities in Sri Lanka, accessing an inclusive education is difficult. As a result, these children are less likely to access the healthcare facilities and schemes, and the economic opportunities and social prospects they need to both survive and thrive.
Through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP), UnitingWorld is supporting Deaf Link* to coordinate with government Special Education Units and ensure that children with disabilities can access mainstream schools. Deaf Link facilitate school enrolments, and support teachers and staff to improve education practices and accessibility for students. As a result, there are now more children with disabilities enrolled, literate and at essential learning capacity than ever before.
Sahasra** chose to send her son to a Deaf Link-supported school in a nearby town after hearing it was involved in the program. Seeing the change it made, she has chosen to relocate her family to the town permanently to give her son the greatest hope for his future.
“(My son) is studying at this school for almost a year now and I can already see so many encouraging improvements in him. As a result of the inputs provided at the school, my son now responds to queries, speaks [a] few words and is making efforts to walk, spacing few steps, playing and taking care of himself.
“The school and the special education unit here have truly been able to bring actual change in the lives of many children with disabilities like my son giving them and their parents hope for a better future. I regularly attend the parent’s meetings and can see the change in the attitude and perceptions of fellow parents towards their children. We often share our happiness collectively. This school has now become a centre for change, hope and development for the children affected by disability.”
*Deaf Link is a centre committed to work with people with disabilities, established by the Methodist Church Sri Lanka.
**Name changed for confidentiality.
Header image caption: Children in an inclusive education class run by Deaf Link using the AUSLAN signal for applause.
This project is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP). Thanks to ANCP, we’re making a huge difference together; lifting families out of poverty and helping people improve their lives.