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Sightsavers Reports

We are… ensuring pre-schools are inclusive

In Malawi, we work with partners to ensure young children with disabilities can learn, play and develop alongside their peers.

Nora teaching Glory, one of her students, how to count.

When children with disabilities have a strong educational foundation in their early years, they are more likely to progress onto primary school.  

In our early childhood development project in Malawi, we work with partners to support more than 40 pre-schools. Through this project, young children with disabilities attend mainstream pre-schools where they can learn, play and develop alongside their peers. 

Here, three people involved in the project share their stories and the impact that inclusive education has had on their lives.  

Disability rights are human rights

On International Day of People with Disabilities (3 December), we are reaffirming our call for equality around the world.

How to get involved
Nora stands outside the pre school where she teaches in Malawi, with her arms crossed across her chest.

I am… Nora
I am… confident that I can teach all children together

Nora stands outside the pre school where she teaches in Malawi, with her arms crossed across her chest.

“I have been teaching since 2004. Currently, I teach at the community-based childcare centre in Makwangwala in Malawi. What makes me happy is when the children I teach go on to primary school and do very well in their class. This is what motivates me.

“We had some training from Sightsavers where we learned how to take care of children with and without disabilities, so we could teach them all at once. This helped me, because at first, I couldn’t manage to teach the children with and without disabilities all together. But after the training, I know how.

“Children with disabilities face challenges in and outside of school. Outside, they are discriminated against. In school, girls especially need help when they get older. During [their] periods, girls with disabilities need assistance with their pads. To be in school with their friends, they need this help, or they end up just staying home. But when children come to school, their lives slowly change.”

Nora teaching one of her students how to count.
Chukumbutso in Malawi with his wife and son, who's in a wheelchair. They're standing outside and smiling.

I am… Chikumbutso
I am… happy that my son is free to do anything

Chukumbutso in Malawi with his wife and son, who's in a wheelchair. They're standing outside and smiling.
Enock sits in his wheelchair outside his home. He's wearing his school uniform and smiling broadly.
Enock now attends an inclusive school, where he's thriving.

“When my son Enock was young, he caught malaria which ran to his brain. After this, we didn’t have that hope that he would one day go to school.”

Chikumbutso worried for his son’s future. But his outlook changed when Enock began to attend an inclusive school.

“When he went to school, he started to make friends. He became sociable. There is a big change in him: he learned this at school. When he’s with his friends, he is so filled with joy. He is free to do anything, as everyone else would.

“Now that Enock goes to school, there are a lot of things transforming and there is a lot of success. He knows who he is and that he can do anything.”

Rose and her grandson Jonathan outside their home in Malawi. They're looking at one another and smiling.

I am… Rose
I am… proud to see the change in my grandson

Rose and her grandson Jonathan outside their home in Malawi. They're looking at one another and smiling.

“I realised that my grandson, Jonathan, had an eye problem,” says Rose. “When he went to school, the teacher identified his disability. He couldn’t see the same as his friends and the teacher explained this to me.”

After speaking to the teacher, Rose started sending Jonathan to an inclusive school. “I saw changes in him, even at home. He was becoming active, he knew how to read, he was playing football with his friends and was riding on the seesaw. He was also easily following with instructions that I gave, like ‘sweep here’. He was able to do this.

“Through the school, he can now read… when you give him a book, he opens the page and reads. And I know that there is indeed a change and his education is progressing well.”


All images © Sightsavers/Homeline Media

Rose and Jonathan wash their hands together in a bowl of water outside their home.
Rose has noticed how far Jonathan has progressed since starting at the inclusive school.
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About the project

Supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, this three-year inclusive education project in Malawi began in April 2020. Sightsavers’ partners involved with this project include the Catholic Health Commission (Malawi), the Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare (Ntcheu), and the Parents of Disabled Children Association of Malawi.

Join us on International Day of People with Disabilities

How to get involved

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