Access to education for refugee children with disabilities

IRD - Initiative for Refugees with Disabilities
Country of Implementation
Subsaharan Africa

The mission of this project is to improve the access to education for children with disabilities in the refugee camp of Gihembe (rural area) as well as in the town of Kigali (urban area) in Rwanda. After a pilot study, the initiative will share the results with its main partners, who are working on refugee issues in Rwanda.

Solution details


“The project seeks to improve the access to education for refugee children with disabilities in the Gihembe refugee camp and in Kigali city.” Mr. Ebengo Muzaliwa Angelo, Head of Project

Problems Targeted

In a country where 12 years of basic education is compulsory, the project promotes an accessible learning environment for students with disabilities by removing barriers and building appropriate infrastructure; by adapting teaching methods and materials; and by providing the necessary support tools. In addition, special trainings enable teachers to manage their classrooms more successfully, and sensitises both teachers and students regarding disability issues and how best to interact with disabled students so as to fight against stigmatization.

Solution, Innovation and Impact

The effort to promote Inclusive Education includes: (1) identification of refugees with disabilities (RWDs) and an assessment of their needs and barriers to education; (2) sensitization of parents/caregivers of refugees with disabilities and of community leaders so that they consider refugees with disabilities like any other person and provide them with due care and rights, including the right to a mainstream education; (3) advocacy for the integration of the issues concerning refugees with disabilities into the annual programmes of the stakeholders (MIDIMAR and UNHCR) together with their partners (MINEDUC and OPWDs); (4) providing training of teachers and education staff on managing children with disabilities in the mainstream education system; and (5) conducting regular consultations with RWDs, their parents/caregivers, and all stakeholders.

Funding, Outlook and Transferability

The IRD needs support to continue and reinforce its efforts to improve access to education for disabled refugee children in the Gihembe camp and in Kigali, as well as to support them with handicap schooling and reinforce their capacities. In addition, IRD needs support for research regarding best practices and to measure the impact of the projects.


Life Story


“Thanks to the training I developed a love for her.”

Mrs. Josephine Mukantabana is an urban refugee woman who has eight children, two of whom – Patient Amahungu, a 29-year-old boy, and Deborah Kunjiato, a 21-year-old girl – live with disabilities. Each of them suffers both intellectual and physical disabilities due to meningitis, which they contracted when they were around two years old. As she explains: “I’ve lived a painful life since my children got disabilities. I even prayed for their death, especially Deborah’s, because her case was beyond what I could bear. I thank IRD for the training we have had on the rights of persons with disabilities and the introduction to Inclusive Education. This training has helped me to love my children equally, and hate the way I had been treating Patient and Deborah. Although Deborah gives me much headache, thanks to the training I have developed a special love for her. Now I am able to bear the burden and care for her like my other children. Regarding my son Patient, I have even started teaching him how to read and write, because the school where he used to study failed to keep helping him when he reached the third form in primary school, and they sent him home to me. I kept him at home for many years, during which he always asked me why he was not studying like his brothers and sisters without disabilities. I hope God will help me reach my objective. My question is whether I can find a school where he can study with other children.”

Related information

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