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A young Nepali girl holds a text book and stands in front of a dry erase board at school
Nepal

Sundari dreams of becoming a doctor

Sundari, 11, has an intellectual disability that creates memory and learning difficulties. With the support of Humanity & Inclusion in Nepal, she’s enrolled in a class adapted to her needs.

A fifth grader, Sundari lives in a dormitory at the school, which is more than 60 miles away from her home. Her favorite subject is science. She recently made a presentation to her classmates in which she drew an animal cell on the whiteboard and talked about its different parts.

“I want to become a doctor one day to save people’s lives and help the elderly,” Sundari explains.

Sundari spends most of her time with her best friend, Bipana. Together, they play Ludo, a strategy board game that is Sundari’s favorite.

"Sundari is very open and friendly,” Bipana says. “She sometimes gets angry, but I can calm her down really quickly."

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Inclusive education resources

The resource class in Sundari’s school caters to 30 students with disabilities. Children learn the Nepali and English alphabets, numbers, words, body parts, as well as hygiene and self-care. When they’re ready, students join their classmates for inclusive lessons.

“Sundari was enrolled in the resource class – a class where children with intellectual disabilities study together - when she was 5 years old,” explains her teacher, Bhupendra Khadka. “She was enrolled during her early childhood development years and has since progressed to mainstream classes. She is now second in her class.”

Children in resources classes range in age from 7 to 17, with some even in their 20s. Like Sundari, some transition to mainstream classes after a few years in a resource class.

Over the past four years, the school’s resource class has been supported by Humanity & Inclusion and its local partner HUSADEC (Human Rights, Social Awareness and Development Center). Resource classes welcome children with a range of disabilities, including sensory and intellectual disabilities.

Only 380 of Nepal's 30,000 schools have resource classes, and Humanity & Inclusion supports a 50 of them. Teams provide educational materials adapted to the needs of children with disabilities, including braille books or sign language learning mobile applications. Other support materials include foam letters, word cards, toy balls, storybooks in local languages and stationery. Educators are also trained to adapt their teaching methods to the needs of children with disabilities.

Last school year, Humanity & Inclusion also provided hygiene kits and school bags to 500 students with disabilities in 46 resource classes across 10 districts to help them continue to learn during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Promoting disability inclusion

Uttam Prasad Bhattarai, the headmaster of Sundari’s school, explains that in rural villages, acceptance of children with disabilities can be challenging.

“There is a social stigma associated with disability,” Bhattarai says. “When children with disabilities, especially intellectual disabilities, enter a mainstream class after their entrance examination, some parents of children without disabilities are reluctant to send their children to the school. Children with disabilities tend to enroll in school at later ages than their peers and so they are older than their classmates."

Humanity & Inclusion and its local partners continue to fight for access to education for children with disabilities.

The resource classes have been supported by Humanity & Inclusion and its local partner since May 2018 as part of the Reading for All program, which is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).