Despite the World Health Organisation estimating that 10% of Egypt’s population is in some way differently-abled, ranging from vision impairment to various forms of motor disability, the country has been generally slow on introducing measures to combat the widespread accessibility issues that these individuals face. But this week, in one area of huge importance, a massive step towards progress has been made!
The access of differently-abled children to schooling appropriate to their individual needs has, until now, been problematic. A report carried out by concerned authorities within the Education Ministry found that in many circumstances wheelchair-users were being forced to attend classes on the top floor of school buildings, meaning that even reaching the classroom was a daily struggle. Similarly, blind students also experienced damaging levels of stress in trying to navigate to their classrooms. The stress and discomfort caused by these access issues were so substantial that they were affecting the children’s ability to perform academically.
In response to this report, the Minister of Education, Dr Halili El-Sherbini, has introduced a new plan to ensure children facing these conditions are able to attend classrooms on the ground floor, or at very least the first floor. In order to do this, school directorates will be compelled to take into account a child’s health status when allocating students to their schools, therefore only placing a differently-abled student into a school that is able to offer them an appropriate classroom. As education is fundamental to overcoming the dramatic disadvantages that the differently-abled experience when attempting to find suitable employment, ensuring that students are physically-able to access classrooms with minimal stress is an important step.
Alongside projects such as the opening of the newly renovated now disabled-friendly Terminal 2 in Cairo Airport, this move by the Education Ministry is definitely helping Egypt on its way to becoming more accessible to all of its citizens. Let’s hope that this form of progress continues, so that the differently-abled are given the support to push boundaries and excel!