Fellowships for University Students in West Africa

Posted on 17 February 2009. Filed under: Announcements, Education and Training Opportunities, Fellowships & Scholarships, Opportunities, Sub-Saharan Africa Region | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

International Fellowships Program (IFP), West Africa
Application deadline for 2010/11 academic year is February 27, 2009. If you have missed the application deadline for the 2010/11 academic year, then please consult the Association of African Universities IFP web site directly to learn about next year’s application opportunity for the 2011/12 or subsequent academic years.


International Fellowships Program (IFP), West Africa. 2010/11 Academic year

The International Fellowships Program (IFP) is a program supported by the Ford Foundation, and coordinated in West Africa by the Association of African Universities (AAU) in collaboration with Pathfinder International in *Nigeria and West African Research Center (WARC ) in Senegal. IFP provides fellowships for advanced study to exceptional individuals who will use their education to further development in their own countries and greater social and economic justice worldwide. IFP fellowships will be awarded to applicants from diverse backgrounds, including social groups and communities that lack systematic access to higher education.

[Note to We Can Do readers: The official announcement from the Ford Foundation does not specifically reference students with disabilities. But you could point out to them that people with disabilities are frequently denied opportunities to access education at all levels, from primary school through higher education. The UK Department of International Development indicates that, out of 77 million children not enrolled in primary school, one-third have disabilities.]

It is expected that 46 Fellowships will be awarded in West Africa for the 2010/11 academic year.

The application period for the 2010/11 Awards will be from December 1, 2008 to February 27, 2009. Late applications will NOT be accepted.

Again, if you have missed the application deadline for the 2010/11 academic year, then please consult the Association of African Universities IFP web site directly to learn about next year’s application opportunity for the 2011/12 or subsequent academic years.

To see the announcement for the February 27, 2009, deadline, consult: http://www.aau.org/ifp/announce.htm

I was alerted to this latest deadline via the Intl-Dev mailing list, which people can subscribe to via email for free.

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NEWS: Kampala, Uganda, Declaration on Disability and HIV & AIDS

Posted on 25 May 2008. Filed under: Announcements, Cross-Disability, Health, HIV/AIDS, News, Sub-Saharan Africa Region | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

From: AfricaCampaign@webmail.co.za
Subject: Africa Campaign on Disability and HIV&AIDS update

******* version française dessous *************

It has been just over three-weeks since we converged for the 2nd General Meeting of the Africa Campaign on Disability and HIV & AIDS was held March 11 – 13, in beautiful Kampala, Uganda.

We would like to once again take this opportunity to express our gratitude to the National Union for Disabled People in Uganda (NUDIPU) and the Government of Uganda, through the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development for gracefully hosting our gathering. Our gratitude is also extended to The Secretariat of the African Decade, Handicap International and once again NUDIPU for supporting the event and last but not least to each and every member of the National Organizing Committee for their exceptional contribution prior to and during the meeting. It would not have been possible without your sterling efforts, long and hard hours and sleepless nights!!!

We were more that 170 delegates representing more that 20 African countries and 10 countries outside of Africa. We came from a wide variety of backgrounds, including civil society, government, academic and research institutions, international NGOs, funding agencies, international stakeholders in HIV/AIDS work and the media.

In addition to networking and rich exchange among groups and countries, the constitution of five working groups with plans of action to further Campaign objectives, a renewed steering committee, we also gave birth together to the Kampala Declaration on Disability and HIV&AIDS. (full text is enclosed in English. Portuguese and French will be forwarded ASAP)

The declaration calls on governments, HIV/AIDS service providers, the African Union, UN agencies, funding agencies, research and academic institutions and disabled people’s organizations to action toward

  • Equal access to HIV/AIDS prevention and services and
  • Full participation by persons with disabilities in the response to HIV/AIDS in every country and at every level.

We hereby encourage you to disseminate this declaration widely within your country, to persons with disabilities, governments, HIV/AIDS service providers, UN agencies, funding agencies, researchers and academic institutions. Please also use opportunities you have with media to highlight this important message. Feel free to add it onto your organisation’s website.

We would like to take this opportunity also to introduce our steering committee and at the same time extend our warmest welcome to the newer members of the committee. They are:

  • Mr. Tambo Camara (Pan African Federation of the Disabled (PAFOD) – Mauritania;
  • Ms. Farida Gulamo (Association of Disabled Mozambicans (ADEMO) – Mozambique;
  • Mr Martin Babu Mwesigwa (National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU) – Uganda;
  • Dr. Elly Macha (African Union of the Blind (AFUB) – Kenya;
  • Mrs. Rachel Kachaje (Southern African Federation of the Disabled (SAFOD) – Malawi
  • Mr. Obuya George Onyango (African Deaf Union (ADU) – Kenya;
  • Mr. Paul Tezanou (Chair of the Secretariat of the African Decade) – Cameroon;
  • Hon. Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu (Member of SA parliament, Disability respresentative of SA National AIDS council executive structure) – South Africa;
  • Ms. Fri Beatrice Bime (Global Fund) – Geneva NEW
  • Mr. Oumar Diop (Handicap FormEduC, Resource Centre for the promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities) – Senegal NEW
  • Mr. David O. Anyaele (Centre for citizens with disabilities) – Nigeria NEW

We would also like to bring your attention to changes in the campaign management. At the end our gathering we said goodbye to Dr. Susan Girois. She will no longer be actively involved in the work on the Campaign Management Team (CMT), although her expertise, experience, guidance and spontaneity will be sought more often than she expects. Her active participation will surely be missed however knowing she’s on call sets the rest of us at ease. In the same breath we would like to welcome two new additions to the CMT: Kevin Henderson who is the HIV&AIDS technical advisor at Handicap International’s Kenya program and Aïda Sarr, a programme manager for the Secretariat of the African Decade of Persons with Disabilities’ West, North and Central Africa regional programme.

We would like to encourage you to please keep us updated on the developments in your respective countries, regions and districts and we promise to share your experiences with the rest of the world.

Gouwah Samuels, Kevin Henderson, Aïda Sarr
Campaign Management Team

Kampala Declaration on Disability and HIV & AIDS


We, the participants of the Second Meeting of the Africa Campaign on Disability and HIV&AIDS representing Disabled People’s Organizations (DPOs), Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) working with and for persons with disabilities, Funding and Development Agencies from 21 African countries and representatives from other parts of the world, a meeting hosted by the National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU) in conjunction with the Government of Uganda, with support from Handicap International and the African Decade Secretariat, in Kampala, Uganda, March 11-13, 2008;

NOTING the fact that the incidence of HIV is disproportionately high among groups that are excluded socially, culturally and economically, including persons with disabilities, and that these groups are disregarded in a majority of national and international HIV/AIDS programming initiatives in Africa. Further noting the importance of mainstreaming disability issues in relevant strategies to achieve sustainable development;

RECOGNIZING that national, regional, continental and international instruments on human rights, such as the United Nations Human Rights Bill and the International Covenants on Human Rights, have proclaimed and agreed that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in these instruments, without distinction of any kind. Further recognizing the principles and objectives of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2006, the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS – adopted at the UN General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS in 2001 and the Millennium Development Goals (MDG);

CONSIDERING that despite these various instruments and undertakings to which many United Nations member states are signatories, persons with disabilities continue to face barriers in their participation as equal members of society and violations of their human rights in all parts of the world, including Africa. Persons with disabilities should have the opportunity to be actively involved in decision-making processes about policies and programmes, including those directly concerning them; and the importance of accessibility to the physical, social, economic and cultural environment, to health and education and to information and communication in enabling persons with disabilities to fully enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms. Further considering the fact that children and women with disabilities are often at greater risk, both within and outside the home, of violence, injury or abuse, neglect, maltreatment or exploitation;

We call on all African Governments to include disability in its diversity as a crosscutting issue in ALL poverty reduction strategies.

Mindful of the above preamble, the signatories to the Kampala Declaration on Disability and HIV & AIDS make the following call that:

African Governments shall ensure that:

National AIDS strategic plans recognize persons with disabilities as vulnerable to the impact of HIV and AIDS as well as valuable contributors in the response to HIV/AIDS.

National HIV/AIDS monitoring and evaluation systems and the existing population surveillance systems include disability specific and disaggregated indicators to be used for planning and programming purposes;

The National HIV/AIDS Commissions/Councils include active representation of persons with disabilities;

Information Education Communication (IEC) strategies at all levels ensure provision for IEC which is accessible to persons with intellectual, mental, physical and sensory disabilities;

HIV/AIDS is recognized as a cause of disability.

HIV/AIDS prevention specialists and service providers shall:

Develop targeted prevention messages and methods that are disability-specific, gender-specific, age-specific and adapted to local language and cultural variations;

Equip all HIV/AIDS care and support service centres to provide comprehensive information and confidential counselling to persons with intellectual, mental, physical and sensory disabilities;

Provide equal opportunity to persons with disabilities to train for and engage in counselling and care provision (i.e. Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT), Preventing Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) and adherence counsellors, and home based care providers;

Associations of people living with HIV and AIDS recognise the rights of persons with disabilities living with HIV and AIDS to ‘access for all’ and provide greater involvement of persons with disabilities in the issues that affect them.

African Union AIDS portfolio and Africa AIDS Watch shall:

Ensure that their strategies, programmes and monitoring systems include disability in its diversity as a cross-cutting issue.

UNAIDS and its composite UN agencies—UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank—shall:

Recognise disability in its diversity as a cross-cutting issue in all HIV/AIDS policies, guidelines and programmes;

Ensure that their monitoring mechanisms track the involvement of persons with disabilities as planners, implementers as well as beneficiaries of HIV/AIDS programmes.

Funding Agencies shall:

Ensure that their funding requirements include both disability and HIV/AIDS as cross cutting issues;

Provide all key documents related to funding opportunities in formats that are accessible to persons with different types of disabilities;

Ensure that their monitoring mechanisms track the involvement of persons with disabilities in planning and implementation as well as beneficiaries of recipient programmes;

Independent research agencies and academic institutions shall:

Include disability and HIV/AIDS as a priority area for research;

Include disability issues in protocols for designing research programmes;

Ensure that research methods capture data that is disability-specific, gender-specific, age-specific and adapted to local language and cultural variations;

Ensure that persons with disabilities are included as researchers, not only respondents or subjects.

Disabled People’s Organisations shall:

Seek accreditation for civil society representation at the UNGASS through UNAIDS;

Provide/give input into HIV/AIDS country reports through governments;

Solicit the Civil Society Task Force for the High Level HIV/AIDS Meetings for membership and active participation;

Implement measures for the protection and promotion of the rights, needs, confidentiality and dignity of persons with disabilities living with HIV and AIDS;

Raise awareness among persons with disabilities and build HIV/AIDS into their regular programmes;
Avail human resources/disability experts to support the HIV/AIDS response for disabled and non-disabled people at all level


Chers membres du Comité de Pilotage, Sympathisants et Amis de la Campagne Africaine,

Cela fait tout juste 3 semaines depuis que nous nous sommes retrouvés pour la seconde Assemblée Générale de la Campagne Africaine sur le Handicap et le VIH&SIDA. C’était dans la jolie ville de Kampala, Ouganda du 11 au 13 Avril 2008.

Nous aimerions encore une fois saisir cette opportunité pour exprimer notre gratitude à l’Union Nationale des Personnes Handicapées d’Ouganda, au Gouvernement Ougandais, par le biais du Ministère de Genre, du Travail et du Développement Social pour avoir généreusement abrité cette rencontre. Nos remerciements vont également au Secrétariat de la Décennie, Handicap International et encore une fois au NUDIPU pour son soutien sans
faille lors de cet événement. Et enfin, à tous les membres du Comité National d’Organisation pour leur contribution exceptionnelle et efforts considérables déployés avant et durant la réunion. Cela n’aurait pas été possible sans votre dure labeur et nuit sans sommeil !!!

Nous étions plus de 170 délégués venant de plus de 20 pays Africains et 10 hors du continent. Des représentants de la société civile, du gouvernement, d’Institutions académiques, d’ONG internationales, d’Agences de Financement, des partenaires internationaux travaillant dans le domaine du VIH/SIDA et des médias étaient également présents lors de ce grand

L’aboutissement de tous nos efforts comme vous le savez, est la Déclaration de Kampala sur le Handicap et le VIH&SIDA. A cela s’ajoute, les discussions fructueuses notées au sein des groupes, la mise en place de 5 groupes de travail avec des plans d’action sur les objectifs de la Campagne et l’entrée au sein du comité de pilotage de nouveaux membres. (ci-joint le texte intégral de la déclaration en Anglais, Portugais et Français, sera transféré ASAP
La Déclaration appelle les gouvernements, les prestataires de services, l’Union Africaine, les Agences des NU, les Agences de financement, les Institutions Académiques et les Organisations de Personnes Handicapées à entreprendre les actions suivantes :

  • L’accès égal à la prévention et aux services du VIH/SIDA et
  • La pleine participation des personnes handicapées à la réponse au VIH/SIDA dans chaque pays et à tous les niveaux.

Nous vous encourageons ainsi, à faire de cette Déclaration une large diffusion dans votre pays, auprès des personnes handicapées, des gouvernements, des prestataires de services, des Agences des NU, des Agences de Financement, des Institutions Académiques. Saisissez les opportunités que vous avez avec les médias pour relayer cet important message auprès du grand public et le publier sur le site web de votre organisation.

Permettez nous également, de vous présenter le comité de pilotage qui s’est élargit et d’accueillir chaleureusement les 3 nouveaux venus :

  • M. Tambo Camara (Panafricaine des Personnes Handicapées (PAFOD) – Mauritanie;
  • Mme. Farida Gulamo (Association des Mozambicains Handicapés (ADEMO) – Mozambique;
  • M. Martin Babu Mwesigwa (Union Nationale des Personnes Handicapées d’Ouganda (NUDIPU) – Ouganda;
  • Dr. Elly Macha (Union Africaine des Aveugles (AFUB) – Kenya;
  • Mme. Rachel Kachaje (Fédération des Personnes Handicapées d’Afrique Australe (SAFOD) – Malawi;
  • M. Obuya George Onyango (Union Africaine des Sourds (ADU) – Kenya;
  • M. Paul Tezanou (Membre du Conseil D’Administration du Secrétariat de la Décennie) – Cameroun ;
  • L’Honorable Député, Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu (Parlementaire Sud Africaine; Représentante de la structure exécutive du Conseil National de Lutte contre le Sida) Afrique du Sud) – Afrique du Sud;
  • Mme. Fri Beatrice Bime (Global Fund) – Genève NEW
  • M. Oumar Diop (Handicap FormEduC, Centre de Ressources pour la Promotion des Droits des Personnes Handicapées) – Sénégal NEW
  • M. David O. Anyaele (Centre des Citoyens Handicapés) – Nigéria NEW

Autre changement, le départ du Dr Susan Girois de l’Equipe de Gestion de la Campagne à qui nous disons aurevoir. Elle ne sera plus activement impliquée dans le travail de l’Equipe de Gestion de la Campagne (EGC), cependant son expertise sera toujours mise à contribution. Son expérience, ses conseils and sa spontanéité seront plus souvent sollicités qu’elle ne le pense. Sa participation active nous manquera mais la sachant sur répondeur nous rassure. Dans le même temps, nous aimerions souhaiter la bienvenue au sein de l’ECG à Kevin Henderson, Conseiller Technique en VIH&SIDA à Handicap International et Aïda Sarr Assistante du Programme Régional pour l’Afrique de l’Ouest, Central et du Nord, du Secrétariat de la Décennie Africaine des Personnes Handicapées.

Un rapport détaillé y compris la liste des participants vous sera transmis par email end -Avril. Si vous avez besoin d’une copie sur CD, envoyez nous un email à cette adresse : khenderson@handicap-international.or.ke.

Nous souhaitons que vous nous teniez informer des derniers développements dans vos pays respectifs, régions et districts et nous promettons de les partager avec le reste du monde.

Gouwah Samuels, Kevin Henderson, Aïda Sarr
Equipe de Gestion de la Campagne

We Can Do received the Kampala Declaration on Disability and HIV&AIDS via the Intl-Dev listserv on international development.

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4th All Africa Wheelchair Congress Report Available Online

Posted on 14 May 2008. Filed under: Assistive Devices, Middle East and North Africa, Mobility Impariments, Reports, Resources, Sub-Saharan Africa Region | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

In low-income countries, the overwhelming majority people who need wheelchairs don’t have one. This has a profound impact on their ability to lead independent lives–or even leave their own homes. Participants in a recent conference in Africa exchanged ideas and knowledge on how to address this challenge.

The 4th All Africa Wheelchair Congress Report (PDF format, 446 Kb) can now be downloaded for free on-line. The report summarizes a series of remarks, panel discussions, and other conference sessions on how to promote appropriate wheelchair services across the African continent. The report also presents a list of resolutions made on the last day of the Congress. The 4th All Africa Wheelchair Congress was held in September 2007 in Tanzania.

The Pan Africa Wheelchair Builders Association (PAWBA) and the Tanzanian Training Centre for Orthopaedic Technologists (TATCOT) facilitated the congress. Co-funders included the World Health Organisation, ABILIS, Motivation Africa, Christoffel Blindenmission (CBM), and SINTEF. The 116 participating members came from Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Angola, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, South Africa, UK, Norway and USA.

The previous three All Africa Wheelchair Congresses were held in Zambia (2003); Kenya (1998); and Zimbabwe (1995). Each congress was a landmark in developing appropriate and affordable wheelchair products and services in Africa in allowing participants to exchange knowledge across the continent. PAWBA was formed at the 2003 Congress.

You can download the full, 47-page 4th All Africa Wheelchair Congress report in PDF format (446 Kb) at:


We Can Do learned about this report by browsing the AskSource.info database on health, disability, and development. I gathered further detail by skimming the report itself.

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This blog post is copyrighted to We Can Do (wecando.wordpress.com). Currently, only two web sites have on-going permission to syndicate (re-post) We Can Do blog posts in full: BlogAfrica.com and www.RatifyNow.org. Other sites are most likely plagiarizing this post without permission.

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FELLOWSHIP: Intl Fellowship Program for West Africa for 2009/10 Academic Year

Posted on 6 February 2008. Filed under: Announcements, Cross-Disability, Education and Training Opportunities, Fellowships & Scholarships, Opportunities, Sub-Saharan Africa Region | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

[Addendum, Feb. 17, 2009: Please note that this blog post is more than one year old and advertises the 2008 application round for the 2009/10 academic year. However, this is an annual opportunity. The application deadline for the 2010/11 academic year is February 27, 2009. Please consult the International Fellowship program site directly for updated information at either http://www.aau.org/ifp/ or at http://www.pathfind.org/ifp]

***************OLD INFORMATION FOLLOWS BELOW THIS LINE, Consult http://www.aau.org/ifp for updated details************

The International Fellowship Program invites all people in certain West African countries, including people with disabilities, to apply for a scholarship. The deadline is February 29, 2008 for the 2009/2010 academic year.

This paragraph is taken from the IFP web site: The International Fellowships Program (IFP) is a program supported by the Ford Foundation, and coordinated in West Africa by the Association of African Universities (AAU) in collaboration with Pathfinder International in Nigeria and the West African Research Center (WARC) in Senegal. IFP provides fellowships for advanced study to exceptional individuals who will use their education to further development in their own countries and greater social and economic justice worldwide. IFP fellowships will be awarded to applicants from diverse backgrounds, including social groups and communities that lack systematic access to higher education.

IFP is planning to award 37 fellowships in West Africa for the 2009/10 academic school year. These fellowships are meant for students who have already completed one degree and are ready to attend graduate school anywhere in the world.

People who wish to learn more about this opportunity should read about it at the IFP web site at:


Inquiries about the scholarship program can also be directed to the following contact:

Pathfinder International Nigeria Country Office
35 Justice Sowemimo St., Asokoro
Abuja FCT
Tel: 09-314 7378
Email: ifpnigeria@pathfind.org

The Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities of Nigeria (JONPWD) also has further information about the scholarship program. JONPWD can be reached at duhkb@yahoo.com.

We Can Do first learned about this scholarship opportunity through the Disabled People International (DPI) on-line newsletter. People can subscribe to the DPI newsletter for free, or read it online, by following the link. (Any text at We Can Do that is underlined or presented in a different color is a hypertext link to an appropriate web page.)

Also at We Can Do: catch up with the news; explore resources, toolkits, or funding and fellowship opportunities that might be helpful for your organization; find research, reports, papers, or statistics; or look up conferences, events, call for papers, or education/training opportunities.

Learn how to receive an email alert when new material is posted at We Can Do (wecando.wordpress.com).

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FUNDING for Conference Participation from Developing Nations

Posted on 29 November 2007. Filed under: East Asia Pacific Region, Events and Conferences, Funding, Human Rights, Latin America & Caribbean, Middle East and North Africa, Opportunities, Sub-Saharan Africa Region | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

[You can reach this post directly with this short URL: http://tinyurl.com/yvhakm]

Every year there are dozens of international disability-related conferences. These conferences allow thousands of participants to network with colleagues around the world, forge partnerships across national and professional boundaries, and enrich their knowledge and understanding of the work they do with disabled people in their home countries.

But every year, there are also thousands of people from developing countries who are cut off from these opportunities because most conferences do not take their financial limitations into account. Usually the easiest expense for conference organizers to control are the registration fees. But many do not even have discounted fees for participants from developing countries. Even those that do usually don’t, or cannot, help reduce the cost of travel or lodging. So where can would be conference-participants from developing countries turn for assistance?

Although limited, a few options may be available to you depending on your country of origin, the location of the conference, the goals of the organization that you represent, or the purpose of your trip. Try exploring one of the following three organizations. (Note that the AJ Muste Memorial Institute and the Inter-American Foundation are primarily for people in the Latin American region. Only the Ford Foundation addresses the needs of people from all or most regions.).

Please note that any requests or applications for funding should be directed to these three organizations, NOT to We Can Do. Leaving a comment here will NOT help you contact these three organizations. Instead, please follow the link to the official web sites for each of the three organizations below.

Ford Foundation
The Ford Foundation has 12 country offices in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Russia. The country offices have travel grant monies which may be usable for attending international conferences. Go to their contact us page to find and contact a regional office near you. Also try looking at their grants page for more information on applying for Ford Foundation grants in general.

AJ Muste Memorial Institute
The AJ Muste Memorial Institute has a number of different grants for projects that promote nonviolence means for achieving social justice, particularly in areas such as peace and disarmament; social and economic justice; racial and sexual equality; and labor rights.

This includes the NOVA Travel Fund (in Spanish), which makes grants of up to $1,500 to help base-level activists from Latin America and the Caribbean attend regional conferences and meetings. Grant recommendations are made by a committee of advisors representing different regions of Latin America. Their next deadline is October 1, 2008 for trips that would begin after November 15, 2008–but check back at their web site for future deadlines.

Follow the links for the NOVA application form in html format or to download the NOVA application form in RTF format (in Spanish).

Inter-American Foundation (IAF)
The IAF funds the self-help efforts of grassroots groups in Latin America and the Caribbean to improve living conditions of the disadvantaged and the excluded, enhance their capacity for decision-making and self-governance, and develop partnerships with the public sector, business and civil society. The IAF does not identify problems or suggest projects; instead it responds to initiatives presented. Projects are selected for funding on their merits rather than by sector. IMPORTANT: The IAF only supports projects in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The above links to the IAF web site in English, but their web site is also available in Spanish, Portuguese, and Creole:

IAF in Spanish
IAF in Portuguese
IAF in Creole

Also see the web page on IAF’s involvement with Disabled Peoples’ Organizations (DPOs).

Grant requests need to come from organizations, not from individuals. The IAF has supported disability rights activists from Latin America in attending the Ad-Hoc Commitee meetings at the United Nations and also in attending meetings in Panama for the Latin America Decade.



Some of the text in this blog entry is taken from the relevant web sites describing the grant funds in question. Thank you to Diana Samarasan at the Fund for Global Human Rights–Disability Rights Initiative for alerting We Can Do to these funding sources. Anyone who is aware of additional resources relevant to DPOs in developing countries is urged to please let me know. You can leave a comment in the comments area below, or you can email me at ashettle [at] patriot [dot] net.

[Edited 16 January 2008 to correct links to Ford Foundation web site and to add a sentence amplifying that two of these foundations are primarily oriented at the Latin American region. People from other regions will want to look at the Ford Foundation.]
[Edited 19 October 2008 to add a line emphasizing that people interested in applying for any of these opportunities should please contact the relevant organization, NOT We Can Do. In other words, leaving a comment here will NOT help you apply for funding. Instead, please follow the relevant link from the organization you think is most likely to be able to help you. Then read their official web site carefully and apply directly with the relevant organization.]



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PAPER: Equalizing Educational Opportunity for the Nigerian-Ghanaian Blind Girl-Child

Posted on 11 November 2007. Filed under: Academic Papers and Research, Blind, Children, Education, Guest Blogger, Sub-Saharan Africa Region | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Equalizing Educational Opportunities for the Nigerian-Ghanaian Blind Girl-Child

Florence Banku Obi
Senior Lecturer
Institute of Education
University of Calabar

[Editorial Note: Please note that the original version of this paper contained tables. We Can Do has converted them to text. Any flaws in this conversion are entirely my own and are not the fault of the author of this paper.]

Education is recognised a major instrument of change and development. In recognising this, the Federal Republic of Nigeria Policy on Education aptly adopted education as an instrument par excellence for effecting national development. Education according to the United Nations Children Fund (Unicef) is a fundamental human right and the key factor to reducing poverty and child labour as well as promoting sustainable development. It is in the light of this that Nigeria and Ghana have well documented policies on the education of children with special needs. However, despite these policies discrimination still pervades in these societies.

In Africa women generally lack access to education. Girls’ access to education is influenced by traditional considerations and attitudes which make them underrepresented. Girls are usually the first to be pulled out of school when the family suffers some financial lose or constrains. The picture is gloomier when the girl is blind. Girls who are blind in Africa are still to reap the benefit of the fight against gender discrimination which gained popularity in Africa after the Beijing Conference in 1998. They more than their sighted counterpart suffer lots of discrimination especially in the two countries. According to Rannveig Traustadottir as quoted by Bowe (1984) women with disabilities are likely to have received less education than both non-disabled women and men with disabilities. Women with disabilities are five times as likely as women without disabilities to have less than eight years of formal education; 17.4 percent of all women with disabilities have less than eight years of formal education as compared to 3.5 percent of non-disabled women. Only 16 percent of all women with disabilities are likely to have any college education compared to 31 percent of non-disabled women and 28 percent of men with disabilities (Bowe, 1984).

Accordingly, boys who are blind are more likely to have more and better educational opportunities than girls. Bowe (1984) writing on the educational opportunities open to children with disabilities states that boys are likely to be perceived and identified for special education than girls. While disabled boys count for 51% of all students in elementary and secondary schools and up to 75% of students in special education classes (Russo & Jansen, 1988). in developed countries, they are said to count for less than 10% of the total school age children in Nigeria. Although this figure seems low compared to the non-disabled children there are relatively higher when compared to disabled girls who are in schools. Reasons advanced for why boys are more readily identified as needing special education include their disruptive behaviours which made parents to view them and their education as a priority to enable them develop the skills to be able to support themselves and a family later on.

The history of education for the blind in Nigeria and Ghana

Children who are blind did not start to enjoy formal education until the early 1950s. The first school for the blind in Nigeria was established in 1953 at Gindiri in Plateau State by the Sudan United Mission (SUM). The school is now being run by Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN).This was followed up with the establishment of Pacelli School for the Blind at Lagos in 1962 by the Catholic Church and supported by the Federal Government. Oji River Rehabilitation Centre (now Oji River Special Education Centre) in Enugu State was the next in the line. Today there are a number of schools for the blind across the country. Among them include; St Joseph School for the blind, Obudu in Cross River State established in 1972 and supported by the Christoffel Blinden Mission (CBM), Ondo State school for the Blind Owo, School for the handicapped (blind unit) Sokoto, School for the blind Umuahia in Abia State, School for the blind, Zuba, Abuja among others (Olukotun, 2003; Skyes and Ozoji, 1992). Interestingly, the functional schools for the blind still have the missionaries as their proprietors.

In Ghana, education of children who are blind was initiated by the missionaries and philanthropists (Special Education Division, (SED) 2004). The early attempt according to the SED was made in 1936, when two blind children were taught Braille reading and writing. The success of this experiment led to the establishment of a school for the blind at Akropong-Akuapem in the Eastern Region of the country by the Basel Mission in 1946 (SED, 2004). This became the first school for the blind in West Africa. In 1958, the Methodist Church established the second school for the blind at Wa in the Upper West Region. These two schools till date remain the basic schools for blind children in the country although some children who are blind are also integrated in seven mainstreamed schools across the country.

Equal Educational Opportunities for all Children
The basic reasons for the establishment of schools for the blind across the two countries are to provide educational opportunities to the children who are blind and integrate them into their societies. This was to prepare them to be functional citizens who will be able to contribute to the development of their nations and their families and to help them live as near a normal live as possible. These objectives are in line with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1949, the United Nations General Assembly Charter of 1959, and the United Nations Convention on the Right of the Child of 1989 which saw education as a human right issue (Unicef, 2004). Based on these Rights and Conventions all children including those who are blind are to access education by the year 2015. To make this realistic, Unicef (2004) in the Millennium Development Goals resolve to

“eliminate gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2005, and achieve gender equality in education by 2015, with a focus on ensuring girls’ full and equal access to and achievement in basic education of good quality; expand and improve comprehensive early childhood care and education for girls and boys especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children; promote innovative programmes that encourage schools and communities to search actively for children who have dropped out of schools especially girls ……children with special needs and children with disabilities and help them enrol, attend and successfully complete their education……and ensure that basic education programmes are accessible, inclusive and responsive to children with special learning needs and for children with various forms of disabilities”
p. 34 & 35.

It must be stated that in developing the Millennium Development Goals, cognizance was taken of the fact that all children (blind and sighted) are born free and equal in dignity and rights; therefore all forms of discrimination affecting them need be stopped.

Research Questions
The study seeks to answer two research questions.
• Is there gender equity in the educational opportunities for children who are blind in Nigeria and Ghana?
• Are girls who are blind negatively affected in the provisions of educational opportunities than boys who are blind?

Subjects and Method
The study involves only blind children in Nigeria and Ghana. The two schools for the blind in Ghana were involved in addition to all schools mainstreaming the blind. In Nigeria, three schools were used for the study. This was to make for easy data collection due to the size and population of the country. The three schools were visited and data collected from the heads of the schools. The schools used were, St Joseph School for the Blind, Obudu in Cross River State; Gindiri School for the Blind, Plateau State and Oji River Special Education Centre Enugu State. These schools happened also to be among the earliest Blind Schools in the country and were all established by the missionaries.



Table 1: Population of Blind Children in three selected schools in Nigeria

Gindiri School for the Blind:
2003/2004: 49 boys; 20 girls
2004/2005: 58 boys; 29 girls
2005/2006: 54 boys; 27 girls
TOTAL: 161 boys; 76 girls

St. Joseph Obudu
2003/2004: 26 boys; 17 girls
2004/2005: 25 boys; 12 girls
2005/2006: 21 boys; 18 girls
TOTAL: 72 boys; 57 girls

Oji River Centre
2003/2004: 32 boys; 28 girls
2004/2005: 28 boys; 23 girls
2005/2006: 35 boys; 27 girls
TOTAL: 95 boys; 78 girls

Table 1 show that for the three years under study, 161 boys representing 67.9% and 76 girls representing 32.1% in Gindiri School for the Blind had access to school. The school records also showed a yearly breakdown of new intakes in primary one in the 2003/2004, academic session to be 9 boys and 8 females; the 2004/2005 had 8 boys and 4 girls while 8 boys and 3 girls were admitted in the 2005/2006 session.

St Joseph’s School for the Visually Impaired results also show that for the three years under study 72 blind boys as against 57 blind girls had access to school representing 55.8% and 44.2% respectively. The population of Oji River Centre shows that more boys are equally having access to education than girls.


Table 2: Population of Blind Children in Special Schools in Ghana

School for the blind-Akropong
2003/2004: 162 boys; 111 girls
2004/2005: 164 boys; 101 girls
2005/2006: 175 boys; 104 girls
TOTAL: 501 boys; 316 girls

Wa School for the Blind
2003/2004: 114 boys; 67 girls
2004/2005: 108 boys; 65 girls
2005/2006: 116 boys; 69 girls
TOTAL: 338 boys; 201 girls

The above table shows that 501 boys and 316 girls representing 61% and 39% respectively have access to education in the last three years under study in the School for the Blind, Akropong. Data from Wa School for the Blind reveals that 338 boys representing 63% and 201 girls representing 37% have had access to education in Special settings since 2003/2004 academic session. These figures show that more boys have access to education than girls in the country. In the three years under study, 839 and 517 blind boys and girls were in schools respectively. The figures also revealed that girls are more disadvantaged than boys and that there is no gender equity in the provisional of educational services to blind children in Ghana.

Table 3: Population of blind children mainstreamed in the
2003/2004 academic year
Institution Students Enrolment
Male Female Total

Three Kings-Blind Unit: 10 males; 5 females; 15 total
Wa Secondary School: 4 males; 2 females; 6 total
Presbyterian Training College: 9 males; 6 females; 15 total
Bechem Blind-Unit: 4 males; 2 females; 6 total
Wenchi Seondary School: 14 males; 8 females; 22 total
Cape Coast School for the Deaf-Unit: 9 males; 2 females; 11 total
Wa Training College: 5 males; 2 females; 7 total
TOTAL: 55 males; 27 females; 82 total

The result on the table shows that in the 2003/2004 academic year, 55 males and 27 females who are blind were in mainstreamed schools in Ghana. This represents 67% and 33% boys and girls respectively.

In Nigeria, results in table 1 shows that more boys have access to education than girls. Data gathered show that 161, 72, and 95 boys who are blind had access to education in Gindiri, Obudu and Oji River respectively. For the girls 76, 57, and 78 had access to Gindiri, Obudu and Oji River respectively. Of the total number of 529 children who are blind in the study schools, 328 are boys while 201 are girls thus representing 62 and 38 percent respectively.

The result in Ghana is not different either. In tables two and three the data show that more blind boys have access to educational opportunities than the girls. The figures computed show that 839 boys and 517 girls have access to education in segregated special schools. These figures represent 61% for boys and 39% for girls. The results in table three show that they were more boys who are blind in mainstreamed regular schools than girls as at the 2003/2004 academic year. This lopsidedness goes to confirm that there is no gender equity in the provision of educational opportunities to children who are blind in Ghana.

The findings are in conformity with the general trend where girls are denied educational opportunities in favour of boys. The reasons for this inequality are not far fetched. Women are associated with some stereotyped roles that make them feel subservient to the men in the society. For instance, there is the inculcation of the beliefs in both boys and girls in their formative years that there are definite and separate roles for both sexes (Chizea & Njoku, 1991). For instance, the traditional African society believes and teach that men are the bread-winners and at such they should be full of activity including access to education while women are home makers hence they should be home bound and passive. The socio-cultural environment of the two countries is so discriminatory in terms of gender. The Nigerian report under the United Nations Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women states that women are relegated to the background and stereotyped roles of women drummed into and accepted by them from childhood (Chizea & Njoku, 1991).Abang-Wushishi (2004) pointed out that the different economies and socio-cultural factors affect sex roles and the different socialisation culture of boys and girls and their resulting personality formation. Citing Barry (1959) Abang-Wushishi states that boys were more pressured towards assertiveness, responsibility, achievement and self-reliance. The reasons for this state of affairs are the belief that women would sooner or later marry and their contribution to national development were in the areas of child-bearing, home-making and farming. Obi, (2004) states that the gender stereotyped and socialization process in Nigeria prepared women for domestic roles as housewives even with the introduction of western system of education. Western education was not considered relevant for girls but for boys. The situation is even worse when the girl in question is blind. Most parents have very poor concept of children who are blind especially the blind girl-child. These parents do not think that girls who are blind have bright opportunities in the society. Such parents will rather prefer to spend their money on the boys who have better chances of getting employment, marrying and raising a family. This is because it is not a common occurrence to see women who are blind happily married with children and having paid jobs unlike the case with most men who are blind. Davies (1996) attributed this to the fact that women in the society are still the more nurturing sex and they may be less hesitant to accept date from men who are blind that sighted men will do for girls who are blind. The fact that men find it very difficult to partner a girl who is blind affects the acceptability of such women in the society including the provision of educational services to them. Some informal interactions with some women who are blind revealed that some parents see investment in their education as a double waste of resources and energy for both the girl and the family. Many contend that their parents said they will rather use such monies to cater for their daily needs than school needs. The preference for boys has also to do with the fact that they are seen as those to continue with the family name hence much premium is placed on the birth and education of the boy child even when he is blind.

Education is seen in the society as the process of developing the whole being, physically, mentally, morally, politically and socially. However, despite the benefit and functions of education in the personal development of an individual and society at large cultural and social norms have been used over the years to deny women the opportunity of developing themselves and contributing to the development of their society. Women with disabilities especially the blind ones are one of the most vulnerable and marginalized groups in today’s society. We need to develop a better understanding of their lives in order to remove the obstacles that still remain in their way to equality. The constitutions of Ghana and Nigeria guarantee equal rights to citizens their handicapping condition not withstanding. The two countries educational policies equally advocate for non-discriminatory educational opportunities for all children. More importantly the United Nations in her different conventions on human rights has repeatedly emphasized the need for equal educational opportunities and access by all children irrespective of gender or disability. The governments of Ghana and Nigeria must as a matter of urgency put in place measures to ensure that the blind girl-child has unhindered access to education. Parents need to be sensitized on the need for the education of the blind girl-child. Women organizations and civil right activists should integrate the issues of education of the blind girl-child into their programmes and begin to advocate for the implementation of Nigerian and Ghanaian educational policies that emphasized on equality of educational opportunities for children. Defaulters (Heads of Schools, Parents, Guidance etc) should be prosecuted to serve as deterrents for others.

Abang-Wushishi, Rose (2004). Perceptions of Female Development. In Oshita O.Oshita (ed) Towards Self-Knowledge: Essays on the Boki Nation. Ibadon. Hope Publications

Bowe, F. (1984). Disabled women in America: A statistical report drawn from census data. Washington, DC: President’s Committee on Employment of the Handicapped.

Chizea, D. O and Njoku, J. (1991) Nigerian Women and the Challenges of our time. Lagos. Malthouse Press Limited.

Davies, J. (1996). Sexuality Education for Children with Visual Impairment. http://www.tsbvi.edu/Education/sexuality-education.htm

Obi, F.B. (2004). Women, Environment and Development in Boki. In Oshita O. Oshita (ed). Towards Self-Knowledge: Essays on the Boki Nation. Ibadon. Hope Publications

Olukotu, J.O. (2003). Teaching Children with Blindness and Visual Impairment: A Basic Text. Ibadon. Codat Publications.

Special Education Department (2004). Special Educational Needs Policy |Framework. Ghana Education Service.

Skyes, K.C. and Ozoji, E.D. (1992). Teaching Blind and Low Vision Children. Zaria. Ahmadu Bello University Press Ltd.

United Nations Children Fund (Unicef) (2004). A World Fit for Children. New York.

Thank you to the author of this paper, Florence Banku Obi, for granting permission to publish it at We Can Do. This paper was previously presented at the presented at the 12th International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairments (ICEVI) World Conference held in Malaysia from 16-21 July 2006 and was also circulated on an email listserv called the “Disability Information Dissemination Network,” which is managed by the ”Centre for Services and Information on Disability”(CSID), Bangladesh and currently sponsored by Sightsavers International. Individuals who wish to join receive papers, news, and announcements like this one relevant to the concerns of people with disabilities in developing countries should send an email to csid@bdmail.net or csid@bdonline.com with the word “join” in the subject line.

For more papers like this one, click “Academic Papers and Research” under “Categories” in the right-hand navigation bar. For more items related to blind people, or children, or education, or Sub-Saharan Africa generally, please click on the appropriate categories.

The “tiny URL” to reach this page directly is http://tinyurl.com/26jdvz

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NEWS: World Association of Sign Language Interpreters Conference Report

Posted on 6 November 2007. Filed under: Deaf, Events and Conferences, Interpreting, Resources | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The email further below comes from the secretary of the World Association of Sign Language Interpreters (WASLI) regarding their recent conference in Spain. Some sign language interpreters from developing nations were among the participants.

At the WASLI web site (http://www.wasli.org), you can see a daily newsletter from the conference (in English at top, in Spanish if you scroll down the page). You will also find text on topics such as developing a code of ethics for interpreters (see the link to the code of ethics in Kenya); mentoring sign language interpreters; links to information about deaf interpreters; and more.

Their “WASLI Country Reports 2007” (PDF format, 2.8 Mb) presents recent information about the situation of sign language interpreters or Deaf/deaf people generally in dozens of both industrialized and developing nations around the world. Some of the developing nations represented include: Botswana, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Nigeria, Cambodia, India, Peru, and Mexico.

WASLI also published a similar report two years earlier, WASLI Country Reports 2005 (PDF format, 1 Mb). The low- and middle-income countries represented in this report include: Argentina, Brazil, Cameroon, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Nigeria, Palestine, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda.

Limited summaries of the WASLI website is available in other languages in PDF format by clicking on “About this website in other languages” WASLI’s left-hand navigation bar. Languages include Arabic, Brazialian Portuguese, Italian, Kiswahili, Japanese, Thai, French, Cantonese, Indonesian, Spanish, and Russian.

Email From WASLI Secretary

From: Zane Hema WASLI Secretary
To: secretary@wasli.org
Subject: WASLI
Date: Sun, 4 Nov 2007 00:44:55 -0000

WASLI is committed to developing the profession of sign language interpreting world wide

Greetings Friends

2007 has been an important year for WASLI primarily because it was the year that the 2nd WASLI Conference took place in Segovia, Spain 13-15 July 2007.


The WASLI 2007 page on the website has been devoted to the WASLI 2007 Conference in Segovia.  It has been updated to include:

A photo gallery,

Minutes of the General Membership meeting,

Scenes from Segovia (Conference Newsletter)

Messages of Greetings

Countries Report

Update on the WASLI 2007 Conference Proceedings

… with more information to follow


Total number of participants – 255 (197 women and 58 men) from 41 different countries.  (This figure does not include working interpreters, companions and an individual from Press purposes)

159 were members of an interpreter association.

20 delegates were sponsored (8 people who were sponsored did not come)

Spain had the highest number of participants at 102

Regional Representation

Africa – 6 countries represented

North America – 3 countries represented

Europe – 14 countries represented

Balkans – 3 countries represented

Australasia & Oceania – 2 countries represented

Asia  – 8 countries represented

Transcaucasia & Central Asia – 1 country represented

Latino America – 4 countries represented

More news to follow shortly …


WASLI Secretary

We Can Do received the above email via the Intl-Dev email distribution list, which circulates information of interest to international development professionals and others with an interest in the field. The other information about WASLI and its country reports was gathered from the WASLI web site. Neither We Can Do nor Intl-Dev are associated with WASLI–individuals interested in their organization should follow the link to review their web site directly.

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