The SENIA West African Chapter Committee discussed the status of special education in the local community of Abidjan. The history of civil war in Cote d’Ivoire is in the backdrop of a society who is hopeful for the future. Sadly, as is the case in most African countries, children with special needs remain side lined from governmental support. Local policies and laws are vague and in some instances impractical, due to the limited resources available. The adoption of transitional organizational policies from the NGO community provides some hope for equity and inclusion, however, there are still a cultural and religious barrier influenced by limited awareness about disabilities.
As a committee we visited the Association Imagine le Monde. The visit was enriching and exposed the committee to the realities of special needs institutions in Cote d’Ivoire. AIM is one institution that brings hope to the community, doing amazing work in creating opportunities for students with more intensive needs. They give their students access to education, practical life skills and vocational skills. AIM is a safe place to grow and learn and the facilitators parental support, with seminars on how to raise students with special needs. We are grateful to be a partner school and the committee will be working to sustain these relations with them, through vocational projects to assist the adults with disabilities to receive sheltered employment.