Rural Sri Lankans with special needs require immense support and care. A report in the Disability Studies Quarterly highlights the dire need for special needs education and support in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is a country that values education. Education participation among children without disabilities is 95% in the 5-14 years age group and 65% in the 15-19 years age group. In stark contrast, of the reported 10.6% of school-aged children in Sri Lanka who have disabilities, 10.2% do not attend school because of it, meaning only 0.4% of these children go to school.
At present, there is no education law that mandates children with disabilities receive education services. In spite of Sri Lanka’s high school enrollment rate, many children with disabilities do not attend school. The stigma and negative attitudes associated with disability often make people unwilling to even admit they have a family member with a disability, thus preventing children with disabilities from accessing special education services.
Barriers to accessing special education also include a limited number of rural schools having special education units, administrators denying children with disabilities admission to schools, an insufficient number of qualified teachers and parents lacking awareness regarding educational facilities. There is a general lack of awareness within Sri Lankan society, that people with disabilities can benefit from schooling and become contributing members of society.
FINDING DREAMS – Special Needs Unit (Seenigama)
Finding Dreams, is our very own Special Needs Unit at the OYOB Centre of Excellence in Seenigama. This Centre aims to offer a special, well rounded education to our 12 beneficiaries, which will include vocational skills, sports, speech therapy and general knowledge, completely free of charge. The beneficiaries are from rural disadvantaged communities in the area.
Sujatha Special Needs Home (Kalutara)
The Sujatha Home in Kalutara is a refuge for 83 residents, in desperate circumstances from the rural South of Sri Lanka. Ranging from the ages of 4-92, these residents, many of whom are elderly, have special needs or are differently abled. Many have undergone traumatic experiences while some residents have even been picked up from the side of the road, where they had been left abandoned.
As many opportunities in the modern world, FoG learnt of the Sujatha Home via a kind hearted individual reaching out to us on social media, and pledged to support the unmet and urgent requirements of this most deserving home.
Other Special Needs Initiatives
The Foundation of Goodness is expanding its activities by assisting differently abled and special needs communities across the island in partnership with other organisations (Serendip, CIMA Students Society) and overseas donors and volunteers including benchmarking and developing special needs units at rural school, assisting special needs teacher training and providing specialised equipment.
FoG also supports the Methsewa Special Needs Home in Monaragala. Weekly dance classes for special needs students take place at the OYOB Centre of Excellence in Seenigama and the Sports Academy Pool is made available for disabled individuals for their use as part of their physiotherapy regime.
Methsewa Special Needs Home
Special Needs Units