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Dania’s story: Promoting inclusive education for children with disabilities

A dozen people are gathered around a water hand-pump

Country: Lebanon © UNICEF

Ten-year-old Dania Al Fares has a smile that lights up the room. She is everyone’s favourite at the Bourj Hammoud Centre of the Mouvement Social in Lebanon. She is as noisy and energetic as her friends around her but Dania has a much different story than her classmates. A Syrian refugee now living in Lebanon, Dania was born with Down Syndrome.

Dania’s elderly father, Khaled, brought his family to Lebanon after his home and business were both destroyed during a single night of violent destruction.

Khaled says he has seen Dania’s progress accelerate since she started at Mouvement Social. “She has learned to count, as well as recognize and write her own name,” he smiles proudly. “Most importantly, her confidence amongst other people has improved too.”

Dania’s place at the Centre was secured thanks to the commitment of UNICEF Lebanon to ensure that children with disabilities make up at least 2% of children in education programs. With funding from Canada, UNICEF is able to provide NGOs with capacity-building, human resources and additional services for the children.

For children like Dania, non-formal education is a pathway to formal school. It allows them to be included in regular classrooms if teachers and school staff are trained and provided with additional support. Inclusive education also benefits other children, helping them become more welcoming and respectful of diversity, reducing violence and discrimination.

Project profile — Education Access and Quality Learning in Lebanon

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