For the first time in Africa, children with disabilities were empowered to be at the heart of a research process to improve outcomes for themselves and their peers.
Since 2012, we have been working with disability activists in Tanzania to deliver a rights-based response to inclusive education. We work together to empower disabled children and their families to access an education; we work with teachers and schools to help them deliver inclusive environments, and together we hold powerholders to account to deliver on their obligations. Together, we have helped enrol 808 children and train 708 teachers.
To review the impact of our inclusive education work we undertook a ground breaking research project.
To our knowledge, this was the first time in Africa, children with disabilities conducted peer led research to tell us how we are doing - what is working and what more needs to be done.
We trained twelve children, aged 8-17 years, with diverse impairments, as researchers. We supported them to gather information and evidence from teachers, peers and the wider community; we helped them analyse the results themselves; and we supported them in presentating their findings to theirs schools and communities. In doing so, this pioneering approach challenged everyone’s perceptions about what disabled children can achieve.
This paper outlines the lessons they want to teach us and how we can build a collective path forward so that no child is left behind.