Sightsavers wins international award for groundbreaking work in inclusive education

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By Palma Ileye

Sightsavers Nigeria has been given an award for improving the accessibility and quality of primary education for children with disabilities.

This is contained in a press release issued by Sightsavers Nigeria, Communication Associate, Joy Tarbo.

According to the statement, the prestigious accolade was presented at the United Nations Office in Vienna on 21 February by the Zero Project, a global organisation which brings together policy makers, corporates and other disability experts and recognises innovative disability initiatives.

It recognised Sightsavers’ meaningful engagement with organisations of people with disabilities, OPDs and role in testing a locally led blueprint for inclusive education in Jema’a, Kaduna state, Nigeria.

Through the Inclusive Futures programme, (funded by UK Aid’s flagship disability-inclusive development programme) the international NGO supported children aged between 4-14, who are living with disabilities in Nigeria in their right to access education.

Dr Sunday Isiyaku, Country Director of Sightsavers Nigeria said, “We are immensely proud to receive the Zero Project award for our inclusive education work and strong partnerships with organisations of people with disabilities, OPDs, such as Women with Disability Self Reliance Foundation, and the state Ministry of Education amongst other partners. This recognition reaffirms our belief that every child, regardless of disability, deserves access to quality education. Together we can achieve our goal of ensuring that no child is left behind in education.”

Inclusive Futures programme Director, Johannes Trimmel said, “It means so much to have our work recognised on a global stage by the Zero Project awards. People with disabilities and their representative organisations need to be included in development programmes to shape and transform the societies that we live in. This recognition motivates us to amplify efforts in providing education for children with disabilities.”

The Zero Project awards recognise organisations that have removed barriers for people with disabilities through their innovative and scalable solutions. Around 1,000 people from 100 countries attended the annual conference at the United Nations’ Offices in Vienna, where Sightsavers received the Zero Project award.

Sightsavers won the award in partnership with the International Disability Alliance, IDA, a consortium of more than 20 organisations working together to ensure people with disabilities are included in development and humanitarian programmes.

Its education projects which integrate children with disabilities into mainstream schools operate in Bangladesh, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, and Tanzania.

The programmes have resulted in increased enrolment and retention rates of children with disabilities in mainstream schools, so far supporting nearly 1,700 children with disabilities to access education.