FOCUS ON – Rehabilitation & inclusive development: testimonies & case study on SDG4 | July 5, 2019

In July 2019, HI & the Global Rehabilitation Alliance (GRA) launched the report “Rehabilitation for the realisation of human rights and inclusive development”. In this article, you will find the testimonies and case studies collected on the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 on Quality Education. Download the report “Rehabilitation for the realisation of human rights […]

In July 2019, HI & the Global Rehabilitation Alliance (GRA) launched the report “Rehabilitation for the realisation of human rights and inclusive development”. In this article, you will find the testimonies and case studies collected on the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 on Quality Education.

Download the report “Rehabilitation for the realisation of human rights and inclusive development” in English and in French.

The report situates disability and rehabilitation within global discourse and policy. Building on data, case-studies and testimonies, the report provides recommendations on the implementation of effective rehabilitation-focused policies and practices, contributing to progress towards SDGs and the realisation of human rights.

Download the full collection of case studies and testimonies here


Testimony – HI Nepal

Nirmala and Khendo were seven when the earthquake struck Nepal in April, 2015. In the district of Okhaldhunga, Nirmala, was trapped under a collapsed wall. At the same time, in Sindhupalchok, Khendo, was buried under the ruins of her house.

The two girls were sent to the Bir Trauma Center hospital in Kathmandu, and both had a leg amputated. The girls were there for almost three months and then moved to the National Disabled Fund, Humanity & Inclusion (HI)’s partner rehabilitation centre. With the support of HI, six months after the earthquake the children received prostheses and re-learned to walk. ‘They have made tremendous progress. They support each other. Their friendship is their strength’ says Sudan Rimal, a physiotherapist for HI.

Initially the girls attended the rehabilitation centre every month for rehabilitation sessions, for physiotherapy that helped them to stretch their muscles and become more flexible. Now they go less frequently, but regularly so that modifications can be made to their prostheses as they grow.

‘We adapt their prosthesis every six months, according to how much they grow. They become more aware of their bodies and the importance of rehabilitation exercises. They tell me when they are hurting, and where. […] They challenge each other to do the exercises, to progress. They are impressive’ explains Sudan Rimal. Nirmala and Khendo now go to school and are in second grade. ‘Teachers have also been trained to teach rehabilitation exercises to children,’ says Sudan Rimal.

They love English, badminton and playing hide and seek. And when we talk to them about the future, Nirmala replies, with shining eyes, that she dreams of becoming an actress. As for Khendo, she will be a teacher, ‘to help people become good person’.

Testimony – HI Sudan

Grato is a 17 years old boy living in his sister’s village of Kator district, at the periphery of Juba. At the age of 3, he contracted a bone disease leading to impairments of his lower limbs. Since then, he was staying at home on the ground, and could not move or was very limited in doing so. HI’s team assessed Grato’s situation and the project provided him with a tricycle. This has changed his life and he can now attend school. He is a good student and intends to become a pilot.


Case Study – Liliane Foundation

Liliane Foundation invests in inclusive and equitable quality education for children with disabilities through the provision of assistive devices, physiotherapy and surgeries. Basic principle of the Liliane Foundation is that children themselves are at the core of the project. An illustrative example is the annual campaign ‘We ring the bell’. The campaign started in the Netherlands, but it developed into a worldwide campaign. Children at schools in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Netherlands, ‘ring the bell’ together. By making a lot of noise, they draw attention to the urgent fact that many children with disabilities are not in school.

In 2018 a specific toolkit for children was developed and distributed: the “Welcome to school case”, to assess in a playful way the (physical) accessibility of their schools for children with disabilities, in line with SDG4’s ambition to promote disability-sensitive education facilities. The evaluation showed that the campaign is a powerful tool to mobilize local communities, local leaders and government officials and create energy and urgency around the topic of inclusive education.

In 2018 the bell was rung by 264.540 children at 1.584 schools in 26 countries. Evaluation showed various results: from sign language trainings to teachers, adjustment of school buildings, to children with disabilities reporting that thanks to the increased attention they felt less timid and alienated, and they had more positive interactions with their peers without disabilities.

Testimony – Liliane Foundation Bolivia

Mariana is a 22 years old woman who lives in Bolivia. Mariana experienced brain damage as a baby, due to a disease that left her partially paralysed. With the support of the Liliane Foundation, Mariana got access to quality essential health-care services. Mariana received physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. She also received psychological support and is followed by a neurologist, an orthopaedist and a nutritionist.

 In the past years, Mariana has done her exercises and her perseverance has really provided results. She learned to talk better and was able to walk by the age of ten. She can dress autonomously, eat and go to the toilets, and prepare some food herself. The young Bolivian is fully involved in her community; at home, at school, and nowadays she even participates enthusiastically and successfully in various sports.

© Liliane Foundation
© Liliane Foundation

Testimony – Liliane Foundation Chad

Sosthene is an 11 years old boy from Chad, paralysed in both legs as a result of polio. For years, he spent his days in the yard, when his brothers would go to school, alongside other children from the neighbourhood. Sosthene was not allowed to go to school himself. His family saw education for a child with disabilities as a waste of time but he thought differently.

One morning he made a decision and went to school too but crawling. After that day, Sosthene’s family has recognised that he had the right to go to school and learn among its peers and since then, Sosthene has gone to school every day. He has now a hand-bike provided by Liliane Foundation which he uses to go to school. In addition, he is followed by medical specialists.


Case Study – DRRA Bangladesh

Disabled Rehabilitation & Research Association (DRRA) has been intervening in Satkhira district of Bangladesh for 2 decades. Children with disabilities are now studying in educational institutes with inclusive environment with an appropriate education approach thanks to that. The methodology is to promote formal, non-formal and special education along with lifelong and pre-vocational options. It is benefiting families by reducing economic burden of special education services. DRRA has ensured each student’s educational placement and required services on an individual basis.

DRRA’s intervention also takes place in hard to reach communities where transportation and accessible means are a struggle. Parental and family member’s engagement in school programs and with the health and rehabilitation services is important. Thus, professionals are able to transfer knowledge to them, make the activities self-sustaining. It also opens lifelong learning opportunities for children and youth with disabilities.

Bangladesh enacted several policies to ensure access of all children to education; however, the country is still in the early stage of implementing inclusive education. Therefore, the DRRA intervention strategy towards inclusive education is considering as a model for future Disability Inclusive Education System.


Case Study – HI Rwanda, West Bank and Gaza

Many children with disabilities identified by HI’s education projects require rehabilitation services to support their inclusion in schools, so links between education and rehabilitation services are crucial. In some countries, HI runs specific rehabilitation projects .In other countries, the education project focusses on basic capacity building of rehabilitation staff specifically related to increasing a child’s ability to access education and on training for parents to ensure that they can support their child (e.g. improving mobility and independence, positioning for learning, fine motor skills, inclusive sports etc.).

Moreover all HI projects advocate for policy change at national level, and where there is an existing IE policy, the project is strongly embedded.

The “Access to Services” model is a guide for HI staff to analyse the contexts and actors in specific countries, related to a particular theme (including practical tools on data collection and analysis). This helps to frame the support needed for users, service providers and decision-makers. This approach ensures that Inclusive Education projects are intrinsically linked to rehabilitation services and other support and specialist services, where this is appropriate and feasible. To create an inclusive society all citizens should have access to mainstream and more specific services according to their needs and choices. A child with disabilities needs access to mainstream services (education, health), support services (such as assistive technologies and adapted transport) and specific services (such as individual needs assessments and diagnostic services).

Expanding the provision of Assistive Devices to improve access to education is necessary. HI works to increasing the range of (ideally) low cost assistive devices available, making use of evidence backed new technologies where costs permit ( e.g. screen reader software for visual impairment, voice output communication aids (VOCAs) or apps for tablets, software to interpret sign language, and digital hearing aids etc.). Devices for children with sensory and communication impairments are increasingly included in projects, and this trend will continue in addition to traditional devices for children with physical impairments (e.g. crutches, wheelchairs etc.).

Case Study 1: Rwanda

In Rwanda, HI has developed pilot national standards and tools for IE, in collaboration with the government. It includes a practical checklist for teachers to use in classrooms, monitoring tools to check children’s progress and a list of standard IE requirements for all mainstream primary schools.

The project also supports individual families by setting up microfinance initiatives and support groups for parents of CWDs focussed on their education. It focuses on improving accessibility in schools and playgrounds by building ramps, accessible toilets and other universal design features. HI finally supported the development of a multi-disciplinary educational assessment service, strengthening referrals to rehabilitation services and the rehabilitation training given to parents and teachers in schools (e.g. physiotherapy)

Case Study 2: West Bank and Gaza

In the West Bank and Gaza, HI advocated for disability mainstreaming within education services within emergency and non-emergency programmes at a national level. The project provided accessible psycho-social support for children to help them cope with the school environment and deal with any trauma experienced. HI strengthened links between special schools and mainstream schools, and supported the transition process into mainstream. Finally the project worked to strengthen existing referral networks and build capacity with rehabilitation staff such as speech therapists, so they can provide assessments for low tech communication aids for the classroom for example.




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