Inclusive education, disability training and awareness.

A country steeped in history, Ethiopia is Africa’s oldest independent nation and the birthplace of Ryan’s Rays first projects.  Although never having faced the challenges of colonization, droughts and civil unrest in Ethiopia have hurt development and made life in Ethiopia difficult.  Ranked in the top 20 of the poorest countries in the world, over 60% of Ethiopians live on less than $3.20 a day.

With a current population of around 100 million, it is estimated that 17.5% of the Ethiopian population lives with a disability. Of this number, there are an estimated 8 million children living with disabilities in Ethiopia.

Circumstances are often bleak for children with disabilities in Ethiopia. Though disability advocates are working hard to change perceptions, there is still a social stigma regarding disability, and children living with disabilities and their parents are often marginalized. The result is that many children with disabilities are still hidden by their families. And though Ethiopian constitution and education policies provide for equal rights for the disabled, including the right to education, only around 2% of children with disabilities currently have access to education.  For those who do have access to education, they are often faced with teachers who are untrained in Special Needs Education and lack relevant resources and school materials.

Although there is much work to be done to ensure inclusion of disabled children in Ethiopian society, the country has made some positive moves forward in recent years. Disability advocates continue to work hard to change attitudes around disabilities throughout the country and there is a growing focus on the importance of inclusive education.

Ryan’s Rays is passionate about supporting projects that improve access to quality education for children living with disabilities in Ethiopia through a strategic partnership with Christian Horizons Global, an organization who has been working in Ethiopia for over 25 years. 

Since our partnership began in 2017, Ryan’s Rays has provided support for:

  • Building and furnishing of the Child Development Unit (inclusive education classrooms) at the Horizons Academy school in Asella.
  • Purchasing of equipment, such as wheelchairs, and educational aids.
  • Funding the ongoing operational costs of running the Child Development Unit at Horizons Academy including teacher’s salaries, transportation to and from school for children with disabilities, medication, classroom supplies, uniforms, supplementary food, teacher training.
  • Training for parents of children with disabilities and disability awareness community programs.
  • Building of a fully accessible outdoor space at Horizons Academy (“Ryan’s Garden”) for students of all abilities to gather together;
  • Funding the addition of an accessible school library at Horizons Academy – a mandatory requirement in order to expand the school past Grade 4 and resulting in hundreds of new students attending the school;
  • Building and furnishing of four (4) new Special Needs Education classrooms at the public school in Robe;
  • Funding the first print production of a Special Needs Education training resource book written by Dr. Alemayehu Teklemariam, professor of Special Needs Education at Addis Ababa University. As a champion of inclusive education, Dr Alemayehu seeks to equip 19,000 teachers across the country with this resource.
  • Building and resourcing of an accessible library at the public school in Robe.
  • Funding of a three-year teacher training program aimed to help schools move from segregated to inclusive education.  The goal of this program is to train 615 teachers to include 1,500 new students who experience disability into classrooms.