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Soni's strong passion to learn


As a young girl, Soni was forced to drop out of education as there was no support in her school for children with hearing disabilities. But, today she is back in school and progressing fast. HI and its partners in Nepal  have helped 1,500 adolescent girls with disabilities to go back to school since 2017.

Soni in her classroom.

Soni in her class | © HI

Soni is the second of eight children in her family. As a child, she was ignored by her parents as she could not communicate due to her hearing difficulties.

But, as she got older, her family started to see that she had a strong passion to learn and go to school. So she was enrolled to a nearby school for her pre-primary level education.

Though regular at school, she had to drop out: There were no teachers able to use sign language, and no support from sign language interpreters. The information was not presented in way that took into account the needs of children with hearing disabilities - for example, using a more visual teaching methods, with posters and flashcards. It was impossible for Soni to follow and understand the classes.

Alone at home

Soni used to spend her days doing daily household chores such as feeding cattle, cleaning, cooking and even helping her parents in the field... She developed her own form of sign language to communicate with her parents, brothers and sisters at home. She was not comfortable communicating with others as she did not know a sign language that others understood.


The “bridge class”

But thanks to HI and its local partners, Soni was enrolled into a “bridge class”, which is an informal class run for a 9-month period for out-of-school children in her community.

Soni’s “bridge class” teacher supported her to learn basic numbers, letters and words in the class. She loves writing and her handwriting is neat and very clear. She is also fond of drawing the things around her.

“Soni’s situation is sadly very typical of the situation faced by many children with disabilities: education is not adapted for their needs, and parents may believe there is no point in sending their children to school and worry that their children won’t be able to keep up with the lessons.

Unfortunately, this means that many children spend many years at home. Eventually they may be enrolled in school but they are usually over-age by then and are much older than their peers in the first grade. This means it’s even more likely they will drop out of school and not continue their learning.”

HI Inclusive Education Expert Julia McGeown

Back to school

Community volunteers also visited Soni's house to help her parents better understand the benefits of education for children with disabilities.

Eventually, Soni joined a  mainstream inclusive school last year in a resource class attached the mainstream school, which supports learners who are deaf to develop sign language skills in addition to teaching the regular school curriculum.

Soni is very happy with the change that has happened in her life and is determined to continue her studies. Nowadays, Soni is involved in various extra activities such as catch up classes, playing games with her friends and craft, etc.

HI in Nepal

Between 2017 and 2020, thanks to HI and its local partners in Nepal:

  • 45,500 children were screened to identify if they needed support due to functional disabilities. HI provided them rehabilitation care, assistive devices, hearing equipment, etc.
  • 1,463 out of school marginalized girls aged 10-19 were re-integrated into mainstream schools,
  • 707 children received educational support and were referred to a specialized service,
  • 1,823 teachers were trained on inclusive education.  

Children with disabilities and access to school in the world

  • Worldwide, over 32 million school-aged children with disabilities are estimated to be out of school. (Education commission report, 2016).
  • Covid-19 has had an unprecedented impact on education systems worldwide. By early May 2020, 177 countries had closed all schools due to Covid-19, impacting over 1.2 billion children and youth. This is 73% of total enrolled learners across the globe. One year later, over 888 million continue to face disruptions to their education due to full and partial school closures.

HI and inclusion Education

  • In 2020, HI provided access to education to 365,000 children with disabilities.
  • HI works to include children with disabilities in school through 48 projects in 27 countries - in West, Central, North and East Africa, the Middle East and Asia. This includes 15 projects in emergency contexts.
Date published: 09/08/21


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