Children living with disabilities are among the most vulnerable of all Togo’s population. Young people with disabilities face not only poverty, but also social isolation and discrimination. Despite the rights guaranteed to them by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and other national law, they are often prohibited from meaningfully participating in their communities. They regularly lack basic health care and are often not allowed to attend school or to find work. The UNPRPD project Promoting the Rights of Children with Disabilities was established in Togo in 2012 to build national capacity to meet CRPD obligations with a special focus on provisions related to children.
By combining the capacities of three agencies the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO), and forging effective partnerships with government and non-governmental organizations alike, this programme addressed challenges of providing education to children living with disabilities in a sustainable manner. This holistic human rights-based response, touching on all of health, education and protection, serves as a model to be replicated in other development strategies across Togo and elsewhere.
A twofold strategy was adopted to achieve the goals of this project offering a comprehensive approach to the integration of children living with disabilities into mainstream education.
The first component focused on the harmonization of domestic laws with the CRPD. It also worked to build national capacity and ensure that government fulfills its national and international obligations towards protecting the rights of children living with disabilities.
The second component of the programme aimed to expand educational opportunities for children with disabilities in the Kara and Savannes regions. Dedicated awareness-raising efforts were also built into this second component, in order to leverage the regional pilots’ results to trigger policy and institutional changes at national level.