Kabita, 21, lives in Banke, a district in the southern plains of western Nepal. When she was younger, she acquired a physical disability in a road accident. Kabita's physical disability and the inaccessible education system prevented her from continuing school, like many girls in her community. As a child, she experienced societal stigma and discrimination.
"I never had a chance to play with other children, attend a marriage function and party," Kabita says. "I could not participate in our cultural rituals in the village. I never wanted to attend and participate anywhere due to my functional limitations and the behaviors of family and community members."
Her strong determination, combined with family support and participation in the ENGAGE project in 2018, manifested changes in her life. Through the project managed by Humanity & Inclusion and partners, she attended a bridge class for nine months, enhancing her literacy and math skills. Later, she decided to pursue a career as an e-rickshaw driver, a male-dominated profession.
Kabita sometimes became discouraged because of misconceptions: "You can't drive a rickshaw; it's a hassle to get to the market; handling passengers is difficult; you can't sustain in the market," Kabita explains. Kabita and her family were visited regularly by Humanity & Inclusion's team and its local partner staff who provided counseling to help overcome the barriers. With support from the project, she learned to drive and received start-up funds to purchase an e-rickshaw. Kabita succeeded in breaking the stigma associated with disability and the prevailing gender stereotype about her profession of choice.
"I make really good money and I provide service to people," Kabita says.
Kabita is now confident in her profession and earns 1,000 to 1,700 Nepalese Rupees—$7 to $14 USD—each day. Having already paid six installments, she is saving money for extra batteries and maintenance of the rickshaw. She has set an excellent example that girls with disabilities can pursue their dreams and be an inspiration to others.
“Women with disabilities are neglected in the family and society due to their limitations, and face a multitude of barriers due to lack of enabling environment," says Indra Bista, Disability Inclusion Technical Officer at Humanity & Inclusion Nepal. "They are least prioritized in social activities and career development opportunities."
"In remote villages where families live in vulnerable conditions, women with disabilities are more vulnerable than other members of the family," Bista adds. "Whether it's access to education, health and livelihood, they are always denied their rights."
This story is part of the Empowering a new generation of adolescent girls with education- ENGAGE project, which aims to support girls in gaining a quality education and developing skills to earn a decent living. This initiative has been made possible with funding support from UK Aid through the Girls Education Challenge (GEC), as well as leadership from VSO. It is run by Humanity & Inclusion and its local partner organization, Disabled Empowerment and Communication Center, Banke.
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."
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).
Pralhad Gairapipli, Humanity & Inclusion's regional communications officer for India, Nepal and Sri Lanka, reflects on working for the organization as it celebrates its 40th anniversary.
There are so many people who say "I love my job", but how often do they really mean it?
This is a statement I can honestly make. “Okay Pralhad, why,” you may ask.
No matter how short a time I spend together with someone—a colleague, a teacher, a person with a disability, I enjoy the opportunity to listen their story. To have someone open up to me, especially on a personal level, is an honor, and I value the trust that builds between a source and a communication professional.
Pralhad is a communications professional with more than ten years of experience, including that with more than five years with HI. He holds a master's degree in Sociology as well as a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communication.
Moreover, communications is like going back to school in a way because you are constantly learning something completely new or being introduced to people you never would have known otherwise. Do you agree that continually learning about multiple areas and topics keeps the job interesting?
When you love what you do, you tend to feel a sense of purpose and belonging. Working hours tend to fly by when your company's values align with your own or when you find yourself valued for what you do. An adored job can often leave you feeling upbeat at the end of each day. You will maintain a positive attitude even on the most challenging days if you are genuinely passionate about your job.
As part of my work, I get to connect with so many incredible individuals on a daily basis whether it be in person, via phone, emails or social media. From Dharma in western Nepal to Sandip in eastern Nepal, all of these stories reflect resilience, motivation, and determination in individuals and their families. Whether the goal is networking and representing Humanity & Inclusion, sharing the work the organization does, or listening to stories and sharing lessons learned, these all have one thing in common: They spark a CONNECTION.
As part of HI’s effort to Covid-19, Pralhad worked closely with the Nepalese Ministry of Health and Population, as well as various development agencies and organizations of people with disabilities to develop prevention messages that are accessible to people with disabilities. He took leadership in engaging popular celebrities in engaging for raising awareness on importance of inclusion and accessibility for HI’s India and Nepal program. In addition, he wrote opinion pieces and appeared on radio and television to promote accessibility during times of crisis for inclusive risk communication.
That is another reason why I am passionate about my job. Preparing for an interview or presenting my knowledge or ideas on a subject is one of my favorite things to do. For example, take my recent interview with a Live Television Program in Chitwan, or my blog published at UNESCO or my first opinion piece published at a national daily about social work or my opinion piece about importance of accessibility, or it be my recent radio interview with Radio Nepal during my field visit to Dhankuta, an eastern hilly district of Nepal.
Isn't it nice to get an opportunity to thrive professionally and be paid to do so many things you enjoy? Which part of your job makes you smile the most?
It was a great honor to meet and talk to Jhamak Ghimire (below), a noted Nepalese literary figure at her ancestral home of Dhankuta, Nepal, during a recent field visit to HI’s project area. Ghimire, 40, born with cerebral palsy, is a leading literary figure of Nepal. She is a true inspiration and a symbol of courage to people with disabilities around the world.
Nisha Rai and Reshma Shrestha agree that love and patience are essential in understanding and supporting the learning needs of children with disabilities. The two women work as learning facilitators for the USAID-funded Reading for All program in Nepal.
Rai, who has a master's degree in social science, learned about the vacancy of a learning facilitator in Dhankuta from her brother when she was looking to start her career. So, she applied and began working in April 2021 to support children with intellectual disabilities in the resource classroom.
Rai, pictured above, completed a brief orientation provided by Reading For All staff on the types of disabilities and children she would support. Rai explains that she never had any friends, neighbors or family members living with a disability, so the training she received about disability, functional limitations, learning materials, and behavioral skills have made it easier for her to support the students.
"Initially, I was not sure if I would be able to continue to support the children with intellectual disability, but eventually I have learned to engage with them and love my work," Rai says.
Rai works regularly at the Shree Aadharbhut School's Intellectual Resource Class, where she engages with children using functional toys like balls and sponge letters, as well as electronic tablets. She is proud to see the children welcoming her with smiling faces and gestures every day.
Similar to Rai, Shrestha is a learning facilitator in the Bhaktapur district. She supports children who are blind or have low vision in their studies and beams when describing the value she has found in working with children. Shrestha’s desire to better assist students with low vision motivated her to learn basic braille.
Before becoming a learning facilitator, Shrestha’s experience working with people with disabilities was limited to an internship at a community-based rehabilitation organization. In April 2021, she joined the Reading For All program with the goal of bringing positive change to the lives of children with disabilities.
Shrestha’s loving and caring nature has helped her quickly bond with children and build trust with students’ family members.
Sanju Adhikari, a Reading For All learning facilitator, supports a student who has a disability at a school in Dhankuta.
Barriers to inclusive education
Children with disabilities face challenging barriers to education. Nearly 50% of children with disabilities do not attend school. For every child to learn and develop the skills they need to succeed, they need an inclusive education. According to a study by Humanity & Inclusion, 83% of parents and caregivers of children with disabilities worried that their children would fall further behind in school because of Covid-19.
During the pandemic, the Reading For All program supported 35 resource classrooms with 62 learning facilitators, like Rai and Shrestha, to bridge the learning. Most of the learning facilitators were newly introduced to disability-inclusive education and are continuing careers in the field. These learning facilitators supported children by developing individualized education plans.
“In order to ensure we Leave No One Behind and to meet SDG4, inclusive education goes beyond enrollment in the classroom and requires trained teachers, adequate learning resources, adapted school infrastructure, and engaged parents,” adds Sanju Nepali, Inclusive Education Specialist for Humanity & Inclusion in Nepal.
After losing his leg in a road accident, Sandip was fitted with an artificial limb by Humanity & Inclusion and its partners.
In Nepal, road accidents are the second most common cause of injury. When he was 14, the truck Sandip was riding in was involved in a traffic crash in Chitwan. He was seriously injured.
“Doctors had to amputate his leg above the knee immediately to prevent further infection,” his mother Sukumaya explains.
Trials of isolation
The accident caused Sandip to have limited mobility. A sixth grader, he ultimately dropped out of school.
“Having lost my leg, I was ashamed to go out or to school,” Sandip says. “I did not see myself going anywhere as I could not walk. As a result, I started staying home, playing games on my phone, and cutting myself off from the outside world.”
Fortunately, Sandip’s family heard about an upcoming health screening camp in their community, providing different services for children with disabilities. These services were implemented by Humanity & Inclusion and its local partners, including Autism Care Chitwan Society, as part of the UK-funded Inclusive Futures Program.
The power of rehabilitation
After the health screening camp, Sandip was referred to the National Disabled Fund, Humanity & Inclusion’s partner, which provides rehabilitation services. The teenager was fitted with an artificial limb, but he didn’t believe he would ever walk again.
“Initially when we met Sandip, he wasn’t convinced by the idea of having rehabilitation care,” says Ramesh Baral, an inclusion officer working with Humanity & Inclusion. “He didn’t trust anyone. He didn’t even believe that an artificial limb and exercises would help him walk.”
“During counseling, we showed him some videos of people with disabilities who have achieved milestones in their lives through rehabilitation care, like walking, going to school, working and dreaming big,” Baral adds.
The counseling helped Sandip understand the power of rehabilitation and realize his own potential. Sandip is determined and making massive improvements. After just four days with his new artificial limb, he found it easy to walk by himself with the parallel bar. Through a 15-day process, Sandip learned how to use his artificial limb through. He completed gait training and learned to balance, stand, shift weight, sit and stand from a chair, and go up and down stairs.
“Training to walk with my new limb is hard work and sometimes painful, but I am confident that when it is over, it will be okay,” he told us.
Sandip’s parents now see a positive future for him. They have seen a change in their son’s attitude, and now Sandip smiles and shares his ambitions and his love of learning.
“Now, I want to read and get help to improve my mobility,” Sandip explains. “Education is my new ambition! I need to study hard so I can get a job and become independent. I have to turn my dreams into reality. I plan to open a mobile repair shop or start working after I complete my education.”
On International Mother Tongue Day (February 21, 2022), let's recognize Nepali Sign Language as the mother tongue for thousands of Deaf people who mainly communicate through Sign language.
Many deaf and hard-of-hearing people use Sign language to communicate. There are many different Sign languages depending on the country, and they are the native languages of the Deaf community. Studies also indicate when a child who is deaf or hard of hearing learns sign language, their ability to learn their native spoken language also improves.
Nepali Sign Language is a medium of communication for Nepal’s deaf community. It is a beautiful combination of facial, hand and body language.
According to the National Federation of the Deaf Nepal, there is a population of more than 300,000 people who are deaf or have hearing difficulties. In Nepal, 15,000 Deaf students attend either 22 specialized schools or 174 resource classrooms that meet their specific needs at inclusive schools.
The Reading for All program promotes an enabling environment to support Deaf students, their families, teachers and other people learn Nepali Sign Language. The project, funded by USAID, provides Deaf people a prospect to interact with people who do not sign. To enhance basic Nepali Sign Language skills, the project has developed a learning application called “Mero Sanket.” The free app is available for download on Android devices at the Google Play Store. This is the result of collaboration through the program, which is implemented by Humanity & Inclusion in partnership with World Education, the National Federation of Deaf Nepal, and the Government of Nepal.
Mero Sanket app promotes communication
Twelve-year-old Abhishek (pictured above) acquired hearing loss when he was 6. He only recently enrolled in a resource class in the western district of Dang in 2021, but his learning was interrupted due to Covid-19 lockdowns.
Initially, Abhishek didn’t seem interested, but Mero Sanket helped to fill a learning gap for him. With the facilitation and motivation of learning facilitator, he agreed to start learning. The project’s learning facilitator introduced the app to the children, helping them interact and continue with their learning during the school's closure. Later, Abhishek found the graphics and video with signs interesting.
“My son used to dress himself up, and wait for the learning facilitator,” Abhishek’s father said recently. “We are now so happy to see the interest and progress of our son in learning."
Since the launch of the app, facilitators have been instrumental in providing remedial support to Deaf and hard-of-hearing children.
“This app is very useful for those who even don’t know or partly knows Nepali Sign Language, especially teachers,” says Sapana Pokhrel, a learning facilitator from Surkhet, in Nepal’s Karnali Province. “They can communicate with the Deaf children. The self-evaluation session in this app is very useful. This is also practical, as it enables discussions on daily-use activities such as greetings, food, hygiene, and sanitation.”
“This app puts Nepali Sign Language into the hands of anyone with an interest in learning it. We wish to take more initiatives to promote inclusive education by developing an additional learning material together and to lay the groundwork for more expanded education opportunities for deaf children," a statement of the National Federation of the Deaf Nepal explains.
"Voice is not only the sound, but also a way of expressing emotions," says Sujata Rai, Project Officer in Dhankuta, a district in Nepal’s Province-1. She wonders how isolated one can feel if they cannot express their feelings as others in their mother tongue.
Reading for All works with children with a variety of disabilities, including children who are Deaf. “Mero Sanket” helps to enhance the learning skills of children, leaning on a Nepali Sign Language learning method with animated features. The objective is to bridge any learning loss children experience during Covid-19, and optimize their learning skills.
The project has already provided 302 digital learning tablets with the “Mero Sanket” app to children and teachers of resource classes. In addition, a 10-day basic Nepali Sign Language training for resource class teachers enhanced the communication in deaf resource classes.
The project is also supporting children with hearing difficulties to connect with their families, friends and teachers through Nepali Sign Language.
Laxman from Dhankuta, had dropped out of school. Despite his family’s best efforts, he refused to return. After receiving support from a learning facilitator, he changed his mind, and re-enrolled at school. "Mero Sanket" has made him interested in studying, and serves as an important learning tool for improved communications with teachers and fellow students.
Parents are also benefiting from "Mero Sanket." Rishi Ram Poudel from Kaski is the father of Manjil, who was born with limited hearing.
“Sign language plays the vital role in our communication within family members," the father explains. He had been struggling to communicate with his son before. With the "Mero Sanket" app, and the help of a learning facilitator who explained how it works, Manjil and his father can communicate more easily.
Prabin, 5, lives in southeastern Nepal with his parents. He was born without the lower part of his right leg.
“Because of the disability of our child we were worried about his future,” says Sunita, Prabin’s mother.
A community mobilizer from Community Based Rehabilitation-Biratnagar (CBRB), a local partner organization of Humanity & Inclusion, met Prabin and referred the family to seek services at a rehabilitation center.
At first, Prabin was hesitant to be fitted with an artificial limb. Specialists worked with the boy and his parents to better understand how the device would work, and how it would help him. A month later, he was eager to have a new leg.
“This was a wonderful change for our little boy, as he quickly accepted the prosthesis and began playing, running, and even jumping like any other child of his age,” Sunita explains.
Prabin attends school and loves to play with his toys.
Ambika Sharma, a specialist in artificial limbs and orthopedic braces at CBRB, worked with the family.
“Initially, it was challenging to fit Prabin with an artificial limb because he was not accepting,” Sharma says. “But his parents made it possible with their supervision and guidance. It was an amazing experience for us to see him happy with prosthesis.”
As Prabin gets older, he will need to be fitted with new devices.
“Growth is an important aspect of a child's life,” Sharma continues. “As their bodies change, prostheses have to be adapted or changed in the similar manner to accommodate them. Just as they outgrow shirts, pants, and shoes, they will outgrow their prostheses."
These rehabilitation services are supported by USAID.
Humanity & Inclusion recently organized a consortium project review and planning for the USAID-funded “Reading for All-R4A” Program in Nepal with its colleagues from USAID Nepal, World Education and 10 other partners.
The consortium celebrated the outstanding performance of the inclusive education project, and discussed the challenges faced by the project participants, partners, and key stakeholders to better plan for the future: centering solutions to strengthen the government education system that support children with disabilities inside and outside the classrooms. The partners also developed a comprehensive implementation plan for the next six months of the project.
- 5,071 head teachers and database focal persons from 3,094 schools trained on Early Screening and Integrated Educational Management Information System (EMIS).
- 103,268 children from early child development (ECD) to grade three completed early screening interventions at schools that identifies functional challenges of screened children and makes them available via a central EMIS sub-system managed by Center for Education and Human Resource Development.
- 86 learning facilitators trained to help children with disabilities through remedial and outreach learning support.
- 360 students received support by learning facilitators.
- 186 digital learning tablets and 892 hygiene kits distributed to children with disabilities.
- 8,544 sets of supplementary teaching-learning materials provided to 257 schools from four core municipalities, and to 46 resource classes in 10 districts.
- 9 Inclusive Education training packages designed and tested to ensure long-term intervention for children with disabilities.
“Happy to see all the progress made and great teamwork over the past few months- you all should be proud of your achievement,” said USAID Nepal’s Laura Parrott in her reflection note during the event. “We must continue the spirit and focus on the quality of interventions, working together to bring the change in children’s reading outcome.”
“As we have completed our strategic interventions, which often took longer time to coordinate with the authorities than we had anticipated, and entered at the full swing with field intervention in the schools and communities, we will achieve all target and objectives on time,” said Khindra Adhikari of HUSADEC, a local partner of Humanity & Inclusion for implementing the program in the district of Dhankuta.
“The leveling interventions of past six months helped the project to clear a huge backlog of the past few years. Now, we are in a comfortable position to plan our targets for next six months,” summarized Govind Phulara, Project Coordinator, at DEC-Nepal, Banke.
“The program has reached this milestone due to every single effort made by the members of the R4A consortium,” acknowledged Shaurabh Sharma, Chief of Party for the program. “For example, 94% of planned financial resources used, 48% of total revised project target of screening children performed using an early screening tool for the review period because of the excellent planning and execution.”
Through an inclusive education project in Nepal, Rabina finally has the chance to learn alongside other students.
Rabina, 19, was born with cerebral palsy. As a girl with disabilities from a low-income family, she was unable to go to school. Her parents were unaware children with disabilities could access education. Disability is stigmatized in communities like hers, where there are no inclusive schools. As a result, Rabina lacked both mobility and education for years.
That’s changing since she met a community officer working with the Empowering a New Generation of Adolescent Girls with Education (ENGAGE) project, managed by Humanity & Inclusion and Voluntary Service Overseas along with local partners in Nepal. The project seeks to empower more than 2,000 girls who are not enrolled in school—including those with disabilities—through education across three districts in Nepal’s Terai region. It is supported by UK Aid’s Girls Education Challenge Fund.
“I think that many people with disabilities in our community are still deprived of their rights and the support they need to gain their independence,” Rabina explains. “They need to be involved in projects like ENGAGE, which can be life-changing for them.”
Rabina’s opportunity to learn
In a medical camp organized by the ENGAGE, teams assessed Rabina’s needs and provided her with a wheelchair and toilet chair along with training in how to use them correctly. Soon, she will receive another, custom-made wheelchair that will help her move around even more easily.
A community officer also paid regular visits to her home to meet with her family. After a series of discussions and counseling, Rabina’s parents agreed to let Rabina join an intermediate class to prepare her to attend school. ENGAGE supplied her with the necessary learning materials.
“Thanks for supporting me with a wheelchair and a toilet chair; they really made a difference to my life,” Rabina says. “Thank you for providing counseling to my parents. They started to see me as their daughter with a future and have helped me learn.”
Rabina has completed her intermediate class, learning basic literacy skills and developing a strong interest in drawing and art. She is gaining self-confidence and wants to go to school to take her learning a step further. She will soon join a classroom where children with and without disabilities learn and play together.
“Rabina’s life has changed a lot since she joined the ENGAGE project,” explains Suman Buda, a community officer who works with Rabina. “She had never been to school and was totally illiterate. Now I feel very happy for her because she can read her lessons and write.”
Rabina’s parents are pleased with the progress she has made in her studies, and they are participating in a training program to learn how to better support their daughter. Now, they see her as a woman with ambitious plans for the future. Rabina’s neighbors are more welcoming, too, inviting her to social activities and rituals. This means Rabina is more involved in her local community, and she feels more confident than ever.
A new Nepali sign language learning app will support Deaf children develop pre-literacy, reading and basic sign language skills. The free app launched on Sept. 23, in recognition of International Day of Sign Languages.
Called Mero Sanket, the app is the first of its kind for Nepal, can also help teachers, parents, and caregivers to learn basic Nepali sign language, and will be available as an offline platform.
The app was developed as part of the USAID-supported Reading for All program, which is implemented by Humanity & Inclusion in partnership with World Education, the National Federation of the Deaf Nepal (NDFN), the Center for Education and Human Resource Development (CEHRD) and other local partners. In Nepal, children with disabilities face unique challenges in accessing meaningful and inclusive education. They experience a lack of proper learning infrastructure and accessible instruction materials adapted to their needs. In Nepal, 15,000 Deaf students attend 24 specialized schools with 174 resource classrooms. Nepali sign language was developed in 1998 and has rapidly progressed, helping students who are deaf excel in their education and communication. However, Nepali sign language is not accessible in all parts of the country, which has resulted in disproportionate high school dropout rates for Deaf students.
“Inclusion is at the heart of Humanity & Inclusion’s core values and accessibility in communication is our mandate," explains Reiza Dejito, director of Humanity & Inclusion's activities in Nepal, India and Sri Lanka. "When children’s access to education is curtailed due to Covid-19 containment measures, and when children are confined to their homes, this ingenious app helps Deaf children to continue learning. The starting point was creating a tailor-made mobile app for learning Nepali sign language, and making it fun and on demand to anyone, anytime, anywhere."
In a statement, the National Federation of the Deaf Nepal wrote, “This app puts Nepali Sign Language into the hands of anyone with an interest in learning it. In creating this mobile app, we appreciate the support provided by the Government of Nepal, USAID, Humanity & Inclusion, World Education, and all technical teams involved. In the days to come, we wish to take more initiatives to promote inclusive education by developing an additional learning material together with everyone involved in such activities and to lay the groundwork for the education of Deaf children.”
The free app is already available for download on Android devices in the Google Play Store. It includes six lessons on vowels, consonants, words, punctuation marks and other exercises in Nepali sign language. The app can be accessed offline once it is installed on a device.
“It has been a pleasure sharing that the Mero Sanket application has been developed, targeting students who are deaf or hard of hearing from grades one to three," says Dr. Divya Dawadi, Director of Inclusive Education at CEHRD. "The mobile application does not only support pre-literacy, reading and basic sign language skills, but this also helps teachers, parents, caregivers and other stakeholders learn basic sign language. The government of Nepal is committed to providing access to education for children, including those with disabilities. Together with the partners, we have developed lessons in sign language to catch up from the learning loss resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic."
Studies on educational outcomes in Nepal point to high drop-out rates and comparatively low achievement rates for children with disabilities, particularly in rural areas. USAID’s Reading for All program aims to improve reading outcomes for students with disabilities, through improving data quality on students with disabilities, early screening, building technical capacity, and testing disability inclusive education instructional models. The project will screen an estimated 277,418 children from grades 1-3 for any disabilities. Early screening helps teachers and schools to adapt students’ individualized education plans and the learning environment. Likewise, Reading for All will train more than 9,400 primary school teachers and 46 educators in resource classrooms to use inclusive teaching instruction to adapt to different needs of students.
"USAID is committed to ensuring all children have access to learning, especially children who are most marginalized," says Shannon Taylor, USAID/Nepal’s Education Office Director. "This is even more pressing during the Covid-19 pandemic where so many children are out of school and children with disabilities are disproportionately affected. We hope that this will be one more tool parents and teachers can use to support children who are deaf or hard of hearing in learning to read."