Promoting inclusive education for young people and adults in Tajikistan

Providing access to inclusive education for persons with disabilities is a challenge for many countries. Ensuring equal education opportunities for everyone is however necessary for professional and personal development. This is also reflected in Sustainable Development Goal 4, which mentions inclusive education for all. In 2018, Tajikistan signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Even so, providing inclusive education to young people and adults with disabilities still remains a tremendous challenge in Tajikistan, both for the State and for civil society organisations.

Confectioner training in an adult training centre in Dushanbe

Providing access to inclusive education for persons with disabilities is a challenge for many countries. Ensuring equal education opportunities for everyone is however necessary for professional and personal development. This is also reflected in Sustainable Development Goal 4, which mentions inclusive education for all. In 2018, Tajikistan signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Even so, providing inclusive education to young people and adults with disabilities still remains a tremendous challenge in Tajikistan, both for the State and for civil society organisations. DVV International and its partners have therefore developed a project by the name of “Promotion of Social Change and Inclusive Education” (INCLUSION).

The project aims to improve access to quality vocational and non-formal education services for persons with disabilities – especially young people –, and to establish an improved environment for more inclusive, responsive and transparent social policies. Together with the civil society organisation “Ishtirok”, which works with persons with disabilities, and the Adult Education Association of Tajikistan, DVV International has been implementing the INCLUSION project since April 2018 with financial support from the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

Assessing the needs of persons with disabilities

In the beginning, the project team identified the educational needs of young people with disabilities, educational opportunities and job vacancies available to them, as well as potential areas for employment, in the project locations Dushanbe, Penjikent and Rasht. In addition, the accessibility of state-owned adult training centres (ATCs) throughout Tajikistan for persons with disabilities was critically assessed. The resulting analytical report provided an overview of occupations in demand, and showed the limitations in basic as well as vocational educational opportunities for young people with disabilities. The assessment of the accessibility of ATC facilities revealed the need for reconstruction and improvements in order to create an enabling environment for persons with disabilities.

Based on the survey, one ATC in the capital and two regional ATCs were selected for reconstruction. In addition, vocational curricula and training materials on the four occupations “confectioner”, “beekeeper”, “fl orist” and “repair of household appliances” were developed based on inclusive education approaches and introduced at the ATCs. ATC trainers raised their capacities in applying inclusive vocational training curricula, and piloted two vocational training courses in inclusive classes.

“I’m very grateful to the teachers and to the project for giving me the opportunity to participate. Now I want to go to a training centre for young people and adults to continue learning and complete my basic education qualification.” Mirzojonova Kholida from Dushanbe, attendee at the basic education course

The needs assessment also revealed low participation by persons with disabilities in basic education due to limited access to the learning facilities and negative attitudes in society. For this reason, a basic literacy course curriculum and hand out materials were adapted to the needs of persons with disabilities. The first course took place with 17 adults with disabilities who had major deficits in comparison to their peers and who wanted to improve their literacy and numeracy skills.

Raising awareness for the changes needed

Besides vocational education activities, the project emphasised the importance of consultation activities. Social desks were established in the project sites that provide social support to persons with disabilities and help them deal with the challenges of everyday life. On the basis of the most frequently asked questions at the social desks, young people with disabilities were trained on the topics of “life-skills”, “human rights”, “inclusive education” and “interactive learning methodology for young people with disabilities”. Trained participants then multiplied the knowledge obtained by conducting a total of 18 peer-to-peer training activities for other young people with disabilities. Non-formal learning activities also included business start-up training activities and a small grants programme for those attending training.

„Ich möchte meinen Geschäftsplan für den Großhandel umsetzen. Dazu habe ich in dieser Schulung alle notwendigen Informationen bekommen.“ Muhammad Tursunov aus Duschanbe, Teilnehmer am Business-Trainingskurs

With the aim of promoting a sustainable, inclusive environment for persons with disabilities in Tajikistan, the project also conducts capacity-building measures for the local partners of DVV International. The partners receive training in how to independently monitor social policies and write alternative reports that serve as an instrument to voice the complaints of people with disabilities vis-à-vis governmental bodies – always with a focus on the SDG 4 targets. These efforts are amplified by a public information campaign on the SDG 4 indicators, as well as by round tables with the participation of local governmental and non-governmental players. Working from the bottom up, the INCLUSION project heightens public awareness of the SDG 4 targets and of the aim of ensuring inclusive, quality education for all. 

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