An inclusive Tunisia

Big numbers

Hammamet, Tunisia, April 1 - In the wake of the democratic transition and upcoming reforms, Tunisia is becoming increasingly aware of the rights of children with disabilities and the importance of including them in every aspect of society. However, policy makers do not yet have at their disposal enough data on the situation of these children, which would allow them to build effective policies for their inclusion.

The statistics currently available in Tunisia show that there is a strong need for reliable, up-to-date information on adult and child disability. According to the preliminary results of the 2014 Census, the percentage of persons with disabilities is about 2.3% of the total population. This is likely to be an underestimation as compared with the global estimate of 15% of population as provided by the World Report on Disability (WHO and World Bank, 2011).

The institutions who work on data collection and civil society organizations in Tunisia are aware that improved data on persons with a disability will support the development of effective evidence-based strategies to ensure their full participation in the society. Therefore, these institutions and organizations expressed a strong desire to improve their capacities to generate better information on disability.

A new beginning

With the support of UNICEF Tunisia Country Office, more than 30 representatives from these institutions and organizations gathered from 9 to 13 February 2015 to participate in the first workshop on the measurement of child disability. This training, organized by UNICEF in cooperation with the Washington Group for Disability Statistics, allowed participants to exchange their points of view and to learn more about the definition of disability as well as key steps in data collection and dissemination on child disability.

For many of the participants, this meeting was an opportunity to create networks and realize that they were working towards the same objectives. It was also an important first step to create a permanent working group on adult and child disability in Tunisia.

 Strengthening data collection and knowledge generation on child disability is one of the actions carried out by the UNICEF Tunisia Country Office, which is a member of the UN Partnership to Promote the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNPRPD). In Tunisia, UNICEF also works with partners to strengthen inclusive policies and practices in schools for children with disabilities, to advocate for their rights and to increase the protection of the most vulnerable, those living without family support. Inclusion of children with disabilities has been mainstreamed in several components of UNICEF’s new Country Programme (2015-2019).

Advocacy videos have also been produced by a group of civil society organizations with the support of UNICEF. The first series of videos tell the stories of three pupils with disabilities who are included in a mainstream school. They show us that it is possible to build a new, inclusive Tunisia. 

Around the world

On a global scale, UNICEF is playing a leading role in addressing the need for comparable and reliable data on children with disabilities through undertaking a number of initiatives. Country workshops on the measurement of child disability are taking place in all seven UNICEF regions. The workshops introduce concepts, models and measures of disability. UNICEF is also leading the development of modules on child functioning and disability, and the school environment and children’s participation in education. These data collection modules along with accompanying toolkits, guidance and training aim to address the information gaps on how many children experience limitations and how the environment (including physical, social and attitudinal factors) affects children’s participation in their communities. http://www.un.org/disabilities/documents/events/2014_summary_strengthening_statistics_shildren_with_disabilities.pdf

Watch http://youtu.be/9Z9WSLtetrU 

New data on disibility in Tunisia will help the development of better strategies to get all children into school