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Despite the obstacles, Edwige aspires to become a teacher

Inclusion
Togo

Edwige is a 20-year-old student with vision loss. She has been in education since the age of four, but it has not been easy getting where she is today.

Close-up portrait of a young girl wearing glasses, seated on a chair. She is wearing a T-shirt with the words "International Day of Disabled Persons".

Edwige, 20, is a young student with vision loss. During her schooling, she benefited from HI’s support. | © S. D. Songoi / HI

Redoubling efforts to meet the challenges

Edwige Nabede has lived with vision loss since she was a baby. She started school at the age of four, but her path was strewn with obstacles. She found it hard to follow the lessons because she couldn't see the blackboard clearly. She was also teased by her classmates who wanted nothing to do with her, which made her time at school even more difficult.

Despite these obstacles, Edwige did not give up. With HI's support, Edwige was able to learn Braille, which made it much easier for her to take notes in class.

At the end of primary school, thanks to her sustained efforts and the attentive support of her teachers, she obtained her school-leaving certificate. Her graduation was a proud moment for her family, friends and teachers, reflecting the results of her hard work.

Edwige is now a student at the University of Kara. Even today, she encounters difficulties, such as reading the small print on the handouts given to her by her teachers. Nor does she have the equipment she needs to consult online resources. But Edwige is not discouraged and continues to study hard to fulfil her dream of becoming a teacher.

Fighting prejudice through inclusion in the school system

Edwige believes that an inclusive education system is crucial to combat the prejudices surrounding the education of girls in general, but especially girls with disabilities, who are doubly discriminated against. She urges parents of children with disabilities to enrol their children in school.

"Children with disabilities are like all other children. We have the same rights and we can succeed just as well as anyone else," says Edwige, with conviction.

An inclusive learning environment would be beneficial to everyone, as it would create greater awareness of disability among both students and teachers. To meet this challenge, HI is running awareness-raising sessions in schools to fight prejudices about disability, while training teachers to better support their disabled students in their studies. HI also deploys itinerant teachers, who provide invaluable support to students with disabilities. As Edwige points out, education has a major influence on people's lives:

"School has enabled me to affirm myself. I've learned to read, write, speak in public and take part in debates. It's easier for me to fit in," says Edwige.

HI's inclusive education and vocational training project in Togo will run until 2025. In 2023, the organisation supported more than 2 000 children with disabilities in primary and secondary education, trained 116 teachers in inclusive teaching methods, raised awareness of disability issues among nearly 17 600 parents and community members and supported more than 100 young people in their professional training and integration.

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