Analysis of Facilitating Elements & Recommendations

Based on an analysis of facilitating elements from the interviews with children with disabilities and the discussions with the actors involved in their education – (parents of children with and without disabilities, children without disabilities, religious and community leaders, educational actors, public institutions and policies), recommendations were made to improve the schooling of girls with disabilities.

Theory of Change

Inclusive education needs to be supported by legislative and regulatory frameworks backed by political will, prioritisation of resources (both human and financial resources) and systemic change induced by strong civil society mobilisation to demand change.


Enrolling and keeping girls in school is a problem for which there is no “one size fits all” solution. Strategies vary from country to country and depend on different factors: Has the country achieved universal primary education? Does it have a strong political commitment to gender equality? Overall, in all countries, there is a need for a double approach to promoting the education of girls with disabilities, which involves improved access and quality education for all children as well as targeted programmes for girls with disabilities in particular. To be able to plan all these policies, there is an urgent need to fill the data gap on disability and gender. Donors and NGOs investing in education programmes should ensure that the programmes take into account the specific needs of girls with disabilities.

Socio-Environmental Framework

We should keep in mind that disability, gender and age are social constructs. Taking into account the wider environment and understanding the unequal power relations in society is necessary to transform social norms and empower girls with disabilities.


Children with Disabilities

& their Parents


# The family is both the victim and the executioner, as it is influenced by sociocultural burdens, leading to practices of discrimination, abandonment or seclusion.

# Mothers are often more involved in the education of girls, but fathers play a crucial role in their academic success.

# Parents are often unaware of the rights of their children with disabilities.

# Parents of children with disabilities play a crucial role in raising awareness among other parents. Girls with disabilities can become role models for other families.

# Children with disabilities – and girls in particular – have low self-esteem. Girls with disabilities are more likely to drop out of school and to suffer sexual violence.

# Family poverty is a barrier to the schooling of girls with disabilities.


Awareness raising

# Change attitudes and mindsets by conveying more positive images of women with disabilities in the public sphere.

# Raise public awareness of issues of violence against women and girls with disabilities.

# Raise parents' awareness: civil registration, rights and health of children with disabilities, harmful effects of early marriage, benefits of sending girls to school, etc.

# Develop targeted outreach strategies to identify girls with disabilities and convince parents that they belong in school. Secure support from community workers.

# Organise national and local awareness-raising campaigns and invite women/girls with disabilities who are models of success; for instance, organise travelling caravans that use social networks, television, radio, cinema or theatre.

# Develop information/awareness raising kits on the difficulties encountered by girls with disabilities: poems and articles written by women/girls with disabilities, resource materials, including websites, information on initiatives to combat violence, etc.

Mobilisation / Training

# Encourage parents to mobilise through Parents' Associations (APE), Associations of Mother Educators (AME) and School Management Committees (COGES): organise exchange of practices, awareness campaigns, mutual aid systems for transport and the school canteen, etc.

# Train fathers of girls with disabilities to become mentors to other fathers in order to increase their participation in the schooling of their daughters with disabilities.

# Propose Income Generating Activities (IGAs) to parents (especially mothers) to solve the problems of poverty and begging and let girls devote themselves to their studies.

# Make programmes inclusive in order to improve girls' education (collaboration with NGOs and associations working for girls' schooling such as Plan, Save, FAWE, etc.). Focus on skills, not on limitations, and give girls with disabilities the opportunity to meet role models and develop their talents and interests, rather than trying to “fix” their limitations. For example, organise theatre competitions and other artistic projects; involve girls with disabilities in the Children's Parliament to defend the rights of people with disabilities); test the Child to Child (CtC) approach to raise peer awareness and build self-esteem, and involve girls with disabilities in awareness-raising campaigns; set up CtC clubs in schools so that children with disabilities can organise activities and benefit from mentoring (sex education, violence prevention, guidance, tools for recognising and confronting obstacles, etc.).

Children without Disabilities

& their Parents


# Parents of children without disabilities often do not set a good example and contribute to stigmatisation by students.

# When sensitised, children without disabilities show solidarity with children with disabilities.

# When not sensitised, their mockery contributes to children with disabilities dropping out of school.


Awareness raising

# Change attitudes and mindsets by conveying more positive images of women with disabilities in the public sphere.

# Raise public awareness of issues of violence against women and girls with disabilities.

# Carry out back-to-school awareness-raising activities in the form of forum theatre, role-playing, etc.

# Invite women with disabilities who are successful role models to the awareness-raising activities.

# Raise awareness among parents of children without disabilities through the AMEs, APEs and COGESs.


# Set up pairs (children with disabilities and children without disabilities) to create empathy, solidarity and mutual aid in the classroom.

Political, Religious & Community Leaders


# Political, religious and community leaders exercise great influence in their communities.

# Religions convey messages of caring and protection for persons with disabilities, but practices are influenced by popular beliefs that portray disability negatively, especially in girls.

# There are religious leaders and traditional chiefs who are less favourable to the enrolment of girls in “modern” schools, which are said to “pervert traditional values”.


Awareness raising

# Educate political, religious and traditional leaders on gender, disability and inclusive education.


# Involve political, religious and traditional leaders in awareness-raising campaigns.


# Set up a consultation framework composed of religious leaders, traditional chiefs and municipal councillors in charge of solving problems related to the schooling of children with disabilities (cases of early marriage, for instance). This consultation framework would also have the task of promoting mentality change in favour of the schooling of girls with disabilities.

Women's Associations, DPOs & Structures Promoting Inclusive Education


# DPOs take little account of gender issues in their agenda, just as women's associations do not sufficiently consider the specific situation of women with disabilities.

# DPOs often initiate innovative inclusive education projects. Their expertise is essential for greater impact.

# Their means are limited and there is little sharing of practices and coordination between them. “Each organisation operates in isolation”.


Awareness raising / Identification

# Increase the number of awareness-raising campaigns and use different channels such as social networks, radio programmes, cinema or open-air theatre, which have a strong impact in rural areas.

# For the awareness-raising campaigns, invite girls and women with disabilities who are role models.


# Produce a guide to good practice in inclusive education to address issues relating to girls with disabilities, in cooperation with women's organisations, DPOs and inclusive education structures.

Coordination / Mobilisation

# Create more spaces for exchange and capitalisation of practices for actors involved in gender, disability and inclusive education at the local and national level, in West Africa and beyond.


# Help associations working for women's rights to initiate specific activities addressing the situation of women with disabilities.

# Help DPOs and inclusive education structures to develop a gender approach in their programmes.

Project development

# Provide support to programmes that help parents deal with the problems faced by their children with disabilities, especially girls (teaching sign language and Braille, raising awareness of issues related to puberty, sexual health, early marriage, etc.).

# Launch a helpline to advise and refer children with disabilities and their families.

Education Stakeholders


# Lack of teachers trained in gender and inclusive approaches, both in special schools and in mainstream schools, or inadequate training of these teachers

# Teacher mobility prevents the inclusive approach from being maintained over time

# Decisive role of educational actors in the schooling of children (in preventing early marriage, for example)

# Teaching materials not suitable for the different types of disabilities

# Manuals and curricula not gender- and disability-sensitive

# Under-representation of women — especially women with disabilities — in educational programmes and in teaching. There is evidence that the low representation of women in classrooms, especially in rural areas, negatively affects girls' enrolment rates.

# The integrated education classrooms (CTISs) in Niger and Burkina Faso appear to be working well, but CTISs in public schools in Burkina Faso need to be redesigned for more efficiency.

# The inclusive education classrooms in Mali seem to be an interesting educational option, provided emphasis is laid on initial training (before the start of the school year) and on training during the year for teachers, children and possibly parents.

Higher schooling cost for special education. Gap between public and private schools in terms of education quality and capacity.

# Lack of accessibility in schools (ramps and adapted toilets), lack of specialised supplies, overcrowded classrooms

# The education of girls with disabilities should not be limited to primary school; the efforts should be continued at secondary school and beyond.

# Early childhood and pre-school education interventions for girls (and boys) with disabilities are also important.

# Education and vocational training need to be coupled to solve the problems of integrating students, especially girls with disabilities, into the labour market and make basic education attractive to parents.


Awareness / Training / Referral

# Review the curricula and adapt the teaching materials to make them gender- and disability-sensitive. Revise the conditions and content of examinations and competitions for certain types of disabilities. Include images of women with disabilities in educational materials.

# Include specific modules on inclusive education, disability and gender in the initial training. Provide in service training.

# Develop a good practice guide on inclusive education in cooperation with teachers, with sections on girls with disabilities. Train teachers to use it.

# Develop comprehensive sex education programmes for children, including girls/children with disabilities, taking into account the cultural context of the countries.

# Train teachers to detect situations of sexual violence/early marriage/exploitation affecting girls with disabilities and to support/guide them.

# Raise awareness inclusively on issues related to menstrual hygiene and provide sanitary protection materials in schools for girls with and without disabilities. Establish self-help mechanisms for girls with and without disabilities.

# Help madrasas to mainstream inclusive education and gender awareness, given the presence of children with disabilities in these schools.


# Improve the presence of women in teacher training institutes, especially women with disabilities. Scholarships could be granted to women with disabilities to participate in teacher training programmes, and incentives could be given to schools to encourage them to adopt inclusive enrolment practices.

# Continue to bring schools closer to children, especially in rural areas, as the issue of distance from school is particularly sensitive for girls with disabilities (train more teachers on direct inclusion; set up inclusive classrooms for hearing and visual impairments to allow progressive inclusion).

# Improve vocational training access and quality, especially for girls with disabilities.


# Ensure that enrolment and progression rates for girls, including girls with disabilities, are included in performance criteria (both for schools and their staff).

Institutions &

Public Policies


# National gender- and disability-sensitive strategies are beginning to emerge, but strong political will and financial resources are required to implement them.

# Most inclusive education programmes are implemented with the support of non-state actors such as NGOs.

# Progressive ownership of the issue of inclusive education by governments so that they can meet their commitments under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

# Mobilise community workers and stakeholders at the local level for the identification of children with disabilities.

# An approach that involves medical staff, educational stakeholders, DPOs and community leaders (such as municipal commissions) is crucial to better identify and refer children with disabilities.

# Targeted scholarships for girls with disabilities to cover tuition and transportation are a key incentive to encourage school enrolment and retention.

# Lack of reliable data, including quantitative and qualitative research on disability and gender to measure, assess and plan (lack of essential indicators such as the number of school-age girls with disabilities, their level of education and their educational achievements; lack of a common definition of disability).


Awareness / Training

# Media campaigns encouraging parents to send their daughters to school should include non-stereotypical disability content and images.

# Sensitise and train public officials on existing gender and disability provisions.

# Translate legal texts into different languages, popularise them, and inform people with disabilities about their rights through awareness campaigns (television and radio programmes, social networks, etc.)

Planning / Legislation

# Provide budgets for the implementation of existing education policies for girls and people with disabilities. Apply a gender equity approach in budgeting and resource allocation to better address the needs of girls with disabilities.

# Explicitly take into account the needs of girls with disabilities in gender policies and in education equity programmes for children with disabilities: education and training of actors, granting of scholarships, provision of school bags and kits, setting up of canteens, improving the school environment (separate latrines, water points), provision of means of transport (bicycles), construction of boarding schools, foster care system with rigorous monitoring and child protection mechanisms.

# Provide grants for families of children with disabilities for transport and food, school supplies and specialised teaching materials (Braille textbooks, tablets, paper, sign language alphabet, etc.) throughout their schooling, as well as scholarships for children with disabilities entering secondary school.

# Integrate existing good practices on the education of girls with disabilities into education plans.


# Develop a strong inclusive education policy in consultation with all key players, including DPOs.


# There is an urgent need to design more reliable statistical tools for better analysis, evaluation and planning in the education sector, and for measuring changes in the enrolment of girls with disabilities.

# Establish robust processes for monitoring the impact of activities on girls with disabilities.

# The development of gender- and disability-sensitive indicators will give a more coherent picture of inclusive education and allow comparisons between programmes.

# Set up a national observatory to report breaches of the law, monitor the efforts to reduce gender inequalities and propose concrete solutions. Organise a conference and produce an annual report on equity in education for girls with disabilities.

# More research on the enrolment, outcomes and barriers to education for girls with disabilities.