Save the Children supports inclusive education of children with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic

Thursday 21 May 2020

Save the Children supports inclusive education of children with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic

With the intention to support inclusive education of children with disabilities during the lockdown period, Save the Children in Kosovo has provided educational and hygienic packages for 100 children with disabilities in twenty (20) primary schools in seven (7) municipalities in Kosovo. These schools are supported by the “Action for Inclusive Education” project which is implemented by Save the Children in Kosovo with financial support from Ferrari Foundation through Save the Children Italy. The packages are a continuation of support for all children with disabilities to implement the activities proposed in the new Inclusive Education distance learning platform developed by Save the Children and the Ministry of Education.

Background on COVID-19 situation in Kosovo

The start of year 2020 found the world with worrying news, where an outbreak of a novel coronavirus was in progress. The doctors and medical professionals at WHO informed the public for the risks of this virus, declaring on January 30th that the coronavirus was a public health emergency of international concern. Cases were soon detected in several countries and by March 11th it was declared a pandemic by the WHO[1]. Soon after, many countries began school closures and other safety measures to prevent further spread of the virus.

This affected the whole population, however some even more. Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations declared that over a billion people with disabilities were affected by the global pandemic[1].

“People with disabilities are among the hardest hit. They face a lack of accessible public health information and significant barriers to implement basic hygiene measures, as well as inaccessible health facilities.”[2]

Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations

Even under normal circumstances, people with disabilities are less likely to access education, healthcare and income opportunities, or to participate in their communities, according to Mr. Guterres. This is especially relevant in Kosovo, where there are just over 356,200 students in Kosovo[3], of whom 4,766 (or 1.3%) are identified as children with disabilities or child[4]. By March 13th the first two cases with COVID-19 were reported in Kosovo. Soon after, the Government of Kosovo introduced swift measures to fight this pandemic spreading further by closing down all businesses, schools and advising citizens to stay at home. In late March, the Ministry of Education introduced remote learning from the TV as a temporary measure however with no availability for children suffering from hearing or vision loss.

Taking this into account, Save the Children in Kosovo began approaching all relevant ministries, including the Ministry of Education to offer its expertise and capacities in the fields of education, child rights and child protection. This led to the development of the distance learning platform on Inclusive Education, a platform, which gives access to distance learning on inclusive education to all children with disabilities in Kosovo, through educational activities which can be implemented at home with the purpose of protecting them and their families from the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The distribution of packages to 100 children with disabilities in Kosovo

On May 5th, Save the Children distributed 100 packages with didactic materials, educational toys, hygienic products, and informative leaflets on COVID-19. This was done to further support parents/caregivers and children with disabilities who attend classes at twenty (20) primary schools that are supported by Save the Children in Kosovo through the “Action for Inclusive Education” project which is financed by Ferrari Foundation and implemented with support from Save the Children Italy. 

The distribution of packages was done through working closely with the Ministry of Education, the Municipal Education Directorates (MED), school directors, educators, and parents/caregivers to ensure a safe distribution of packages in line with standard operating procedures for COVID-19 and emergency protocols of Save the Children.

“In the current conditions that we are, these packages are very helpful to children and we welcome this distribution of packages. We have a continued cooperation with Save the Children and we are in constant contact to deepen our collaboration in the future. We have thanked Save the Children for their work in many municipalities in Kosovo. Today, we are here to observe the distribution and thank Save the Children for these packages which are needed from the children with disabilities in Kosovo.” -Agim Berdyna, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education

The school directors were instrumental in the successful distribution of the packages, informing the parents/caregivers, as well as in the preparation of the safety distribution measures on site.

‘Today is a very special day, as Save the Children is providing support for families and children with disabilities from our school. This help is necessary especially now when we are facing a global pandemic such as COVID-19. In the name of our school, and the community, we want to thank Save the Children for this generosity and their continued support for children with disabilities.’’

Skender Halimi, Director of primary school ‘Hilmi Rakovica’ in Prishtina

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The distribution was made possible with support from Save the Children Italy and funding from Ferrari Foundation through the project ‘Action for Inclusive Education’ which is implemented by Save the Children in Kosovo in seven municipalities in Kosovo aiming to implement best practices in inclusive education through a school cluster approach, and increase the capacities of municipal support systems to deliver qualitative inclusive education in 7 municipalities.  

 

[3] Annual Assessment Report 2018: Strategic Education Plan for Kosovo 2017-2021 (MEST, 2019).

[4] Education Statistics in Kosovo for school year 2017-18 (MEST, 2018).