Key figures: inclusive education at HI
• In 2022: 43 projects dedicated entirely to inclusive education, and 57 projects with an inclusive education component.
• Just over 100,000 participants, mainly children, but this figure also includes their parents and teachers.
• The three countries in which HI is most active in inclusive education are Mali, Rwanda and Kenya.
3 questions for Nancy Christelle Umugwaneza, HI's inclusive education specialist in Rwanda
What is the impact of inclusive education, particularly in Rwanda?
Although it’s still far from perfect, inclusive education is now being taken into consideration and promoted at all levels in Rwanda: from exclusion to the identification of children, their assessment and guidance leading to enrollment at school, keeping them in school, learning and progress – that’s what we are striving to do in Rwanda. We are achieving it through the universal design of learning and a child-centered approach: we focus on what children can do, rather than what they can’t do. And the stakes are high: establishing assessment centers in communities, training teachers, adapting teaching materials, assistive technologies, etc., to ensure that children with specific needs are no longer excluded from their community.
What motivates your commitment to these inclusive education projects?
What drives me to fight for the inclusion of everyone is the fact that I have seen the progress we have already made in this area. Parents know that children with special needs have the right to go to school just like any other child. The teachers have understood that when supported, children with disabilities can learn at their own pace and achieve better results in line with their abilities.
What is your most memorable encounter, and to what extent does it show how inclusive education can change the life of some children?
I have so many vivid memories from my career, especially when I was in charge of assessing needs and guiding the children. I remember one child who was about to leave school. He was an orphan, had no family, and suffered from a severe visual disability. Yet he was brave enough to persevere at school despite his difficulties – his teachers believed that he was an intelligent pupil. During the assessment, our teams noticed his visual disability and referred him to an ophthalmologist. He received follow-up care and was fitted with glasses. A simple pair of glasses changed the boy’s life at school. He very soon felt more confident and was able to follow the lessons just like all the other children. He stayed on at school and left with very good grades that allowed him to get a scholarship to go to university.