04 SES 08 A, Case Studies of Inclusion in Central Asia
In Tajikistan the largest group of children who are out of school are children with disabilities. Traditionally children with disabilities have been either sent to a few remote boarding schools or have been hidden at home. Founded in 2006, the Parents’ Association of Children with Disabilities has worked to bring children out into society and include them in neighborhood schools. This paper outlines the work of parents with children with disabilities and demonstrates their power to change the system. In recent years several children have been included in mainstream classes as a result of their efforts. With the help of the parents’ association, parents have been able to overcome significant financial, attitudinal, institutional and family barriers to enrol children in local schools. Utilizing a discourse of legal rights and inclusion, the parents’ association has challenged state institutions, to transcend Tajik gender norms, to fight against the shame and stigma normally associated with having a child with disabilities, and to advocate for inclusion of children with special needs.
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