Disability in Tajikistan: The hidden children

And the parents coming together to instigate change

In Tajikistan, as in other places round the world, disability is stigmatised and children are sent to state institutions or hidden away at home. Indeed, social attitudes and stigma play a significant role in limiting the possibilities for disabled children here.

Very few of these disabled children attend school.

Very few of these disabled children attend school.

Over 125,000 people are registered as disabled in Tajikistan and over 19,000 are under 16 years old. 2505 disabled children are registered as living in 23 institutions for children with disabilities. There are 1,447 disabled children registered as orphans. But this does not reflect the true number, as so many are not registered or even seen, and even existing data is often out of date and inaccurate.

Very few of these disabled children attend school. They are considered uneducable.

But parents in Tajikistan are beginning to stand up for their children’s rights and advocate for change, to lobby with schools, local authorities and ministries to facilitate the inclusion of disabled children in mainstream schools.

Coordinated by the Association of Parents of Disabled Children (APDC) in Dushanbe, a network of parent associations has now been established across Tajikistan. These groups, funded through the Education Support Programme ( ESP) and OSI Tajikistan and working with the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI)have trained local mothers and fathers as parent advocates, and these parents are now working to raise  awareness of the rights of disabled children and their families and to advocate for change. The results are already apparent; a handful of children are now attending mainstream schools; many families are receiving the benefits and support they are entitled to; parents are stronger and growing in confidence.

The Parent Associations continue to grow in size and number, gaining strength and momentum from each other, coming together for regular training and to share ideas and practice. Their work is an example of how communities can instigate change.

For further information please contact Jo Baker (OSI Consultant) on jobaker1@live.co.uk .


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