7 year old Omida received a diploma from the Swedish ambassador, Tobias Thyberg, during the graduation ceremony for children with disabilities at the SCA office in Mazar-e-Sharif |Photo: Niclas Ericsson

“Disability can’t prevent me from going to school”, reads the sign that 8 year old Mohammed holds up on his graduation ceremony |Photo : Niclas Ericsson

181 children graduate in spite of disabilities

On April 19, 181 children with disabilities graduate from the preparatory education provided to them by the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan, SCA. The children will now join mainstream, public schools for their continued education. Around 80 of the students attended the graduation ceremony at SCA's office in Mazar-e-Sharif, in the presence of the Swedish ambassador.

“I am impressed by the strength and commitment these kids have shown. Society needs to recognize that young people with disabilities have many abilities and a right to education like everyone else,” said Tobias Thyberg, ambassador of Sweden to Afghanistan after the graduation ceremony.

The preparatory education has been provided by the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan, SCA, an NGO that has been working in Afghanistan since 1982. The 181 children are between 6 and 12 years old and have four types of disabilities – physical, visual or hearing impairment or learning disability. SCA has 10 preparatory education and rehabilitation centres in Balkh, Jawzjan and Samangan provinces. Around 80 of the children, and their parents, were able to attend the ceremony in Mazar-e-Sharif on Thursday April 19 along with high representatives of the three provinces.

“I have learnt to count, read and write and to make short sentences. I also learnt sign language during the preparatory education,” says Mohammed who is 8 years old and now ready to enrol in public school. He proudly holds up a sign saying: “Disability can’t prevent me from going to school”.

During the preparatory education, children with a visual impairment learn how to read and write using braille, a sign language that they can read using the fingertips. For children with a physical disability, SCA provides prosthetic limbs and training that make them able to participate physically at school. SCA also provides training for the public school teachers that have students with disabilities in their classes, so that they can accommodate the needs of those students.  

SCA has been providing preparatory education for children with disabilities in Balkh, Jawzjan and Samangan provinces since year 2000 and 1 677 children have graduated from the centres. Most of them have enrolled in public schools, where they have continued their education together with children without disabilities. Some of the students have even graduated from university.

“As you know I am blind, the other students are not, but they treat me very well and help me. I don’t feel disabled at university. The challenge is printers and books in braille,” said Rohullah Mirzayee, a student of law and political science at Balkh University, who also attended the graduation ceremony. 
 
Caption for photo of ambassador and child:
7 year old Omida received a diploma from the Swedish ambassador, Tobias Thyberg, during the graduation ceremony for children with disabilities at the SCA office in Mazar-e-Sharif.  
Photo byline: SCA/Niclas Ericsson

Caption for photo of boy with a sign:
“Disability can’t prevent me from going to school”, reads the sign that 8 year old Mohammed holds up on his graduation ceremony.
Photo byline: SCA/Niclas Ericsson

For interviews or additional information, please contact:
Salima Biglary, Senior Communication Officer, salima.biglary@sca.org.af, mobile +93786607064

Photos are free of copyright and available in higher resolution on request.