Holistic support system from early childhood to vocational training
- Learn for Life
- DRRA - Disabled Rehabilitation and Research Association
- Country of Implementation
- Asia & Pacific
- South Asia
- 18 districts
- Start Year
- First published
“The initiatives were my own, the wish to go on was my decision. My family had a positive attitude towards my journey, and the DRRA has always been beside me. That is why I am now stable and independent.” Sondha Rani Sarker, Learn for Life beneficiary
The Disabled Rehabilitation & Research Association (DRRA) is one of the largest non-profit development organizations working in the field of disabilities in Bangladesh, operating in 25 districts. The ‘Learn for Life’ programme started in 1998 and offers a holistic model for supporting children with a variety of disabilities to achieve more in school. The programme provides learning materials, assistive materials, financial support, and training for teachers, and has supported around 8,000 children in furthering their education.
Disability law is in place to support inclusive schooling in Bangladesh, but this does not always mean schools are sufficiently set up to provide an inclusive learning experience.
Solution, Innovation and Impact
Learn for Life provides a range of support mechanisms to allow children with disabilities, including intellectual disabilities and cerebral palsy, to advance in the education system. The project supports young people at all stages of schooling, from early childhood intervention starting at age three to supporting inclusion in vocational training up to 25 years. For school-aged children, DRRA provides supplementary learning materials, assistive technology, and financial support, along with support for teachers, parents, and therapists. The programme works with a range of stakeholders, including local disabled person’s organizations (DPOs), parent groups, and the government, to embed the methods within the schools and the wider community. Local DPOs then assume leadership of the programme and continue the work of DRRA after its support is phased out. The programme started by supporting 20 schools in one district of Bangladesh between 1998 and 2012. As of 2018, Learn for Life has embedded methods in 120 primary schools and 12 special schools in 19 districts.
Funding, Outlook and Transferability
As of 2019, project costs are approximately €250,000 per year with 90 per cent coming from three international donors Liliane Fonds, CBM and Niketan and 10 per cent through corporate and community funding. The practice has already proven its replicability within Bangladesh, while elements of the model have also been implemented in India. DRRA is planning to make the resources to replicate this practice available online through e-learning for interested DPOs and parent associations in disability-inclusive formats. DRRA additionally aims to assist in the coordination of Inclusive Education among the country’s various ministries.
THE STORY OF FARHAD, A STUDENT SUPPORTED BY DRRA
“Now many young people with disabilities get a government scholarship because of our advocacy.”
I am currently working with young people in an organization for people with disabilities while also finishing my final year of courses for a B.A. degree, but the journey has not been simple. At the age of 8 my parents realized that I have cerebral palsy and so I am dependent from a wheelchair in my whole life. I even had difficulty holding my pen. At first, my parents tried to admit me at a private school, but they failed because the other parents didn’t want me there. After a year, I was admitted to a pre-primary school run by the Disabled Rehabilitation & Research Association (DRRA), and from there I got the chance to go to a public primary school. Because of the advocacy of DRRA, the school authorities provided me with an accessible toilet and arranged extra time for me to take exams according to my needs. Now I am in the last year of my B.A. degree, but it would not have been possible without the support of the DRRA. I receive five euro monthly as an education stipend from the government, but my need is about 40 euro. DRRA employs me part time to cover the difference, and based on my work experience, I founded SNUS, an organization for people with disabilities in the city of Satkhira. We currently work with 90 youth and are an inspiration for all children with disabilities. Now many get a government scholarship because of our advocacy.