In 2021 ORFL decided to support the Inclusive Education Program. It supports differently abled students thrive. This program is highly needed in Jordan because many people from different war-torn countries flee to Jordan. In the last 10 years, the country’s population has nearly doubled from 6.7million to 10.5million with the inflow of refugees from mainly Syria. This has overwhelmed services in the country. To make matters worse, a lot of humanitarian funding is declined and vulnerable Jordanians and non-Jordanians are left with little access to quality services to build a resilient future. Jordan is home to over 330,000 children with disabilities (CWD) who face many challenges to access the resources they need to learn. More than 90% of them do not go to school. Thus leading to the creation of the inclusive education program which identified this need and started in 2008. It focuses on giving CWD access to formal education and supporting them with their extra needs.
The program itself focuses on a holistic approach to provide Jordanian and Syrian CWD with tailored support specific to their needs. Educators involved in the program are trained to identify needs of the students to provide them with the appropriate tools for success. The program also offers schools in refugee camps, cities and rural areas to ensure access to equitable learning opportunities while raising community awareness of rights and opportunities to inclusive education for CWDs. Mercy Corps runs awareness-raising campaigns to create a culture and social environment of acceptance, encouraging and enabling families to register their CWDs in the camps educational facilities.
The reason Mercy Corps reached out about this program now is because previously UNICEF was a big funder of this program in partnership with Mercy Corps. Due to Covid a lot of UNICEF funding went towards Covid and away from this project. Covid has meant different allocation of resources and uncertainty, either people haven’t donated or the money has gone to PPE or to tackle covid related issues of which there are many. Mercy Corps funding base for this program has also been shrinking. ORFL’s donation will be going towards making sure 1600 differently abled children in two refugee camps will have access to education alongside their non-disabled peers. The funding will be used for
- shadow teachers
- transportation to and from school
- physical rehabilitation sessions
- specialised equipment and learning tools to accommodate students special needs
Mercy Corps is also looking to expand their inclusive educational program by potentially
- designing accessible playground equipment and adding to existing school and refugee camp playgrounds
- expanding successful pilot accommodative workshops in refugee camps and launch workshops across Jordan in partnership with the Ministry of education’s vocational training centres responsible for adapting equipment and tool, creating accessibility solutions for CWDs.
- Providing more schools with assistive technology
- Conducting comprehensive parent training and psychosocial support groups for caregivers of CWDs.
- Creating video’s showcasing CWDs success stories to raise community awareness around the abilities and potential of CWDs.
- Equipping extracurricular spaces in camps with higher technological and mechanical literacy such as robotics and creating toys and coding games that would be accessible to all students including CWDs.
Jordan Ministry of education is working on a plan to expand educational opportunities for CWDs but their resources aren’t sufficient to cover the needs of all the children across the country and excludes refugee camps so Mercy Corps will continue to try to support these children until the government is able to. Mercy Corps will also work with the Ministry of Education to share what they have learned. ORFL is proud to support this project that gives CWDs more accessibility to education suited to their needs.