Collaboration for inclusive education development in Burkina Faso

Inclusive education can be a complex process, not something that can be designed and implemented by one organisation or government department entirely on its own. The needs, perspectives, responsibilities and roles of a wide range of stakeholders need to be considered. In this article, Estelle summarises some of the ways in which stakeholders have been brought together to collaborate on inclusive education in Burkina Faso.

Developing collaboration
A census in 2013 identified 79,617 children with disabilities aged 0−18 years in Burkina Faso, plus a number of ethnic minorities, refugees, and children living on the streets. Creating access to a quality education for these children, and supporting their retention in the school system, requires collaborative planning so as to develop truly relevant mechanisms and strategies.

The inclusive education project, developed by Handicap International and the Ministry of Education over the last 10 years, has favoured a collaborative approach, both in planning and implementation. A key medium-term objective has been to build the know-how of institutional actors across the country, so that it is not just one organisation or department that holds the knowledge or that is seen as responsible for inclusive education.

Handicap International and its partners carried out advocacy and awareness raising work with the political authorities, which culminated in the adoption of the Act on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in April 2010. Implementation of this law also requires multi-sectoral and inter-ministerial action.

Ministry roles
The Ministry of Education has been at the forefront of the inclusive education initiative, in close co-operation with other actors, including corporate entities and civil society.

The Ministries of Health, Social Action, Local Administration, Human Rights, Employment and Vocational Training are involved at different stages in inclusive education. Their representatives have special responsibilities at central and decentralised levels. For example, the head of the local health service is in charge of medical consultations relevant to inclusive education, while the head of the social affairs local department supervises awareness-raising and counselling activities.

Each player learns through the contribution they bring to the process. The municipal committees, for instance, have now included among their responsibilities and action plans, activities related to inclusive education (identification, referral, awareness-raising, monitoring, etc).

Committees and commissions
Before the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was adopted by the United Nation General Assembly in 2006, Burkina Faso had a multi-sectoral Committee on the Rehabilitation and Equalisation of Opportunity for Persons with Disabilities. It took a medical approach to disability and experienced limited success due to poor interaction between actors. With Handicap International’s work and following the 2010 Act there was growing desire for friendly interaction and sharing between actors working on disability. The National Multi-sectoral Council for Promotion and Protection of Disabled People’s Rights was therefore born. It operates from a social model perspective on disability, meets regularly, and has developed indicators for following up the implementation of the Convention. It also influenced the recruitment of 97 people with disabilities into public service in 2014.

At the national level, there is a steering committee for the inclusive education project. The Ministry of Education has also set up a multi-sectoral steering committee to guide and monitor the writing of the national inclusive education strategy. Through consultations between steering committee members, they try to ensure all issues related to inclusive education are considered and members then propose a relevant and operational action plan.

Local level
At the local level, representatives of government departments participate in the development of inclusive education action plans for communal commissions (multi-stakeholder entities under the tutelage of municipality mayors). These commissions were created to ensure the schooling of children with disabilities at the local level, and have been one way that our collaborative approach has been adapted within a decentralised context. They operate in municipalities where Handicap International works.

Local level government representatives have received a clear message that the issue of disability is part of their responsibility, and that inclusive education is the approach chosen by Burkina Faso. They understand that their role (and measurement of their success) involves supporting accessibility and the participation of children with disabilities in schooling.

In addition to institutional and municipal partners, the communal commissions also include associations of parents, pupils, Mères Educatrices (associations of mothers who promote education), school management committees and organisations of persons with disabilities. Their main activities include mobilising resources for the identification and assessment of children with disabilities, developing school guidance tailored to the special needs of these learners, and ensuring that these children are included in schools close to their home.

The collaborative approach has enabled significant progress in terms of the evolution of education policies, ownership of the guiding principles of inclusive education, and efficiency in organising actions. As a result, more children with disabilities have been welcomed into regular school environments. The national inclusive education strategy currently being written will serve as a further tool for ensuring high quality planning and advocacy and for meeting the challenges of resource mobilization and coordination of all inclusive education actors.

Composition of key collaborative bodies

Inclusive education project steering committee: representatives from the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Social Action and National Solidarity, organizations of/for persons with disabilities, civil society active in education, special schools and Handicap International.

National Multi-sectoral Council for Promotion and Protection of Disabled People’s Rights: represented by the Presidency, the Prime Ministry, all ministries, representatives of disabled people’s organisations, national and international NGOs working on disability, customary and religious leaders, and technical and nancial partners and employers.

Steering committee for the inclusive education strategy: central directorates of the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Social Action and National Solidarity, international NGOs active in the eld of disability such as Handicap International, Light for the World, and CBM, federations of organisations of persons with disabilities and special schools.

Estelle is Handicap International’s Project Co-ordinator for Inclusive Education in Burkina Faso and Niger.

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Meeting of a communal commission © Handicap International
Meeting of a communal commission © Handicap International


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