Education for Children with Disabilities in Madagascar

Melody Kazel
Borgen Magazine
Publication Year:
October 06, 2020
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-Being
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality

SEATTLE, Washington — In 2012, The New Humanitarian reported that disability caused 200,000 children in Madagascar to have no access to education. Since then, Madagascar has worked with many different organizations to improve access to education for children with disabilities.


Disability and Education 

The World Bank reported that four out of every 10 children drop out of primary school in Madagascar before finishing. Additionally, about 80% of teachers do not have any official training. In a Global Education Review report on access to education, researchers interviewed 55 teachers about why students dropped out. About 38% of them said students dropped out due to poverty. A UNICEF study from 2014 to 2015 showed that 58 million children with disabilities were not in school. So, the organization started improving access to education for persons with disabilities.

To gather data, the organization asked students to draw maps of their areas and mark the houses of kids who did not attend school. Then, UNICEF reached out to parents and families of kids not in school to encourage their attendance. As a result, the inclusion of some children with disabilities in Madagascar increased, such as a hearing disabled child named Mbolatiana. After the study, Mbolatiana started attending school nearby. “The director of the school came to see me and assured me that they would take Mbolatiana,” said Mbolatiana’s mother Rasoamanalina.


What Organizations Are Doing

UNICEF’s study on the rights of children with disabilities to education reported that education for disabled children typically took place in separate classes or schools. In 2010, 73.4% of children with disabilities in Madagascar were not enrolled in primary school. Those in school were mostly those with “mild hearing and physical impairments.” Children with more major disabilities were far less likely to be enrolled in school. 

Around the same time UNICEF was conducting this study, Madagascar ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Article 24 of the convention requires states who ratify to “recognize the rights of persons with disabilities to education” and to make sure that the education system is “inclusive at all levels.” In 2018, the U.N. issued a report that found that Madagascar had the same percentage of children with disabilities attending school as students without. However, The Global Partnership for Education reported that same year that only 11.3% of disabled children were currently enrolled in primary school.


Possible Solutions 

UNICEF’s study laid out possible solutions to improve access to education for children with disabilities. One such solution was to monitor the work of nonprofits. Learn Achieve Become is a non-governmental charity based in the U.K. It is instituting a disability education program on the island of Nosy Be. The program is called “Madagascar Disabilities, Education & Support Project 2020/2021.” Part of its goal is to create The Sunrise Center, a place where young people with disabilities can go to receive education as well as daily care.

Furthermore, UNICEF’s report on education resulted in the development of the Sunrise Center’s structure. Every aspect of Learn Achieve Become’s program will follow the goals UNICEF laid out. Additionally, it will “create an inclusive culture, develop inclusive practices, ensure an inclusive environment and deliver quality, inclusive education.” Learn Achieve Become’s Nosy Be center aims to provide education to 40 students with disabilities. It will also provide educational opportunities for adults with disabilities. Other programs include language and environmental education as well as sports opportunities.

Children with disabilities in Madagascar enroll in school far less often than students without disabilities. A Global Education Review report also found that teachers see poverty as a barrier to education for some students. Since many disabled children in Madagascar are also poor, they have multiple levels of undue stress placed upon them and their families. The government has worked with UNICEF to gather data on education and disability to help combat the issue. Non-governmental organizations are continuing to use that data to enact change and provide greater access to education for children with disabilities.


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