This report was prepared for Chemonics International Inc. by Dr. Alaa Sebeh and Dr. Brenda Sinclair with contributions from the Injaz project team.
The prolonged Syrian crisis has precipitated mass displacement, economic collapse, and an education crisis with an estimated 1.75 million Syrian children out of school. Moreover, the use of explosive weapons and indiscriminate attacks during the conflict has killed or injured thousands of children. While there are no accurate or comprehensive statistics on the number of children with disabilities in Syria, UNICEF estimates over 1.5 million people, including children, are now living with permanent, war-related impairments.
As children with disabilities are less likely to have the resources, services and social support required to attend school, they are most at risk of exclusion from education. According to the UNICEF regional director of the Middle East and North Africa, “Without access to services, schools and assistive products, like wheelchairs, many children with disabilities face a very real threat of exclusion, neglect and stigmatization.” Respecting the rights of children with disabilities and affording them the same freedoms and rights as other children is something that governments are obliged to do, in accordance with the UN Rights of the Child and Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD).
Since the Fall of 2017, the Chemonics Injaz project has been supporting local community-based organizations (CBOs) to operate non-formal child education centers (child centers) that provide psychosocial support and remedial literacy/numeracy to children, including those with disabilities. Within the Raqqa Governorate, child centers are located in Ain Aiesa IDP camp, Raqqa City, Tabqa City, Karama,
Al Mansoura, and Journiyeh. Injaz also supports a child center in the Abu Khasab IDP camp within the Deir Ezzor Governorate. The goal of the centers is to facilitate re-enrollment of children into formal primary schools affiliated with local councils.
At the beginning of the assessment, in October 2018, there were reportedly a total of 166 children with disabilities enrolled in three of the 11 child centers and three additional child centers were planning on enrolling more children with disabilities from their target communities.
B. Executive Summary
Chemonics conducted a Disability and Inclusion Assessment in October 2018 with dual aims framed by the following research questions:
1) What percentage of children within the target population (child centers, wider communities, IDP camps) have difficulties functioning and participating in daily activities?
2) To what extent is each child center ‘inclusive’ and promoting inclusive education?
The first aim was to identify the actual number, types and severity of functional difficulties among children targeted by the Injaz project. Using two internationally recognized instruments for measuring functional skills, the assessment identified children within 11 child centers, four surrounding communities, and two IDP camps who have difficulty functioning and participating in daily activities, such as educational activities within the child center and basic tasks within their home and communities.
The second aim was to assess the status of inclusive education within each child center as a baseline to measure future progress. The participatory self-assessment facilitated child centers to identify the main barriers, facilitators and resources available for creating inclusive learning environments. Child centers used the results of the assessment to develop intervention plans that address the inclusion gaps and fulfill the rights of children with disabilities to access education and to ensure their inclusive participation in all center activities. The action plans were developed in collaboration with the child protection and inclusion committees and will guide future child center interventions.
The assessment will provide the Injaz project and its donors with recommended interventions to design inclusive programs and provide implementers with a snapshot of the current status of children with disabilities in child centers to inform future activities. The results will inform Injaz intervention plans at both the programmatic and individual levels. Identified children will be categorized by type and severity of the difficulty, age group (5-9, 10-4, 15-17), and gender.
Note that the Disability and Inclusion assessment was not intended as a research project, but rather as a baseline assessment to identify the number of children with functional difficulties and the extent of inclusiveness within child centers for an inclusion project under the broader Injaz project. It also intended to build the capacities of child center staff and promote continuous assessment and action planning among child center communities.