NGOMA — For years, Odette Forumeri, a 46-year old mother of four, looked down upon her disabled child. But she has since changed that attitude, thanks to the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA).
“My 13 year old son ‘Daniel Muhire’ is lame. He can not walk and I used to think that he can not do anything and taking him to school, I thought would be wastage of time,” she says.
A widow whose husband was killed in the Genocide, adds that Muhire her last born, would always be rocked in the house and “for sure I never treated him like any other child of mine, his brothers and sisters treated him the same.”
“When they sensitised me, that’s when I realised that I had to treat all my children equally. I realised that I should always love him like others and I was really touched for all the bad things I have ever done to him.”
Muhire is one of the brilliant pupils in primary one, at Musya Primary School in Rurenge, Ngoma district.
Annonciata Nikuze, a teacher where Muhire schools said, “It beats everyone’s understanding how brilliant this boy is.”
Nikuze is one of the 40 teachers trained from 20 schools as a Special Need Education Coordinator (SNECos) by ADRA in its programme of Child friendly schools that aims at implementing quality education for all learners regardless of their disabilities.
The teacher says that since she completed her training, she has sensitised many parents with disabled children and they have responded positively. According to Nikuze, the number of disabled children has since the year begun rose from 26 to 227 at her school.
While at Sangaza Primary School, the number of the disabled children has risen to 40 from 16 since the year begun.
“Like most other teachers, I used to think that beating pupils is the best way to teach them,” Nikuze says.
“But I have now realised that there are some pupils who need to be approached in a polite way for them to understand what you are teaching,” she adds.
Nsanzineza Kadogo is deaf. Teachers would beat him up for not picking what was being taught and he had decided to abandon school.
“I used to beat him up for doing what I did not say. I never thought he was deaf because he feared to tell me. It’s after I visited him at home after my training that I realised this problem,” Nikuze says.
Last semester Kadogo took fifth position in primary three after he was given special lessons.
“My daughter had always requested me to take her to school but because she was blind, I could not allow her. It was not because I didn’t want but because I thought blind people can not study since they can’t see what is being taught.
She could remain rocked in the house when there is no one at home,” Claudine Nyinawagaga, another mother of six says.
Aline Uwamahoro Nyinawagaga’s daughter is in primary one at Sangaza Primary School. She says she loves studies and she hopes she can do better if given a chance.
“I have now realised that the disabled should also be given their rights like others,” Nyinawagaga says. She calls upon parents and the public to give good care to children with physical disabilities.
“The society should change the attitude towards the disabled people especially the young who are denied education most especially by their parents,” Ivan Niyiguha, SNECos training coordinator says.
ADRA-Rwanda is helping 973 children with disabilities that are under Child Friendly Schools’ project.
The NGO has also trained 40 teachers in “Special Needs Education, to handle children with different physical disabilities.
The programme has been implemented in 20 schools across the eastern districts and part of Northern Province.