CAMBODIA: Salesian Missions donors provide funding for wheelchairs and new elevator so students with physical disabilities can attend Don Bosco Tech
Don Bosco Technical School has been making broad changes to ensure that students with disabilities are able to access an education.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Jan. 4, 2019) Youth with disabilities attending Don Bosco Technical School in Kep City, Cambodia have wheelchairs and a new elevator thanks to Salesian Missions donors. Don Bosco Kep has been in the process of making broad changes to ensure that students with disabilities are able to access an education.
In addition to these donations, in January 2015, Don Bosco Tech was awarded a grant from the Office of American Schools and Hospitals Abroad at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to make changes to the school’s buildings and dormitories to ensure they are accessible for students with physical disabilities. The school also received funding to aid the construction from Don Bosco Bonn and the Sawasdee Foundation.
Don Bosco Kep, which has 250 students, 40 of whom live at the school, began welcoming students with disabilities in 2013. School administrators were concerned that the campus was not as accessible as it could be for the new students to access all of their classes. Often students would have to rely on their friends for assistance getting to classrooms on higher floors and into dormitory living, making them feel like a burden.
With the 2015 USAID funding, Don Bosco Kep made modifications to the school, including the construction of ramps to access areas for community gatherings and the creation of a student and teacher residence with all of the modifications that will allow those with physical disabilities to live and attend school independently. The funding also supported creating accessible bathrooms and the purchase of equipment to aid the learning environment for youth with disabilities.
“We appreciate the funding from our donors and USAID, which has allowed the Don Bosco Kep campus to welcome and give greater access to students with physical disabilities,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “The new construction modifications open up the campus allowing students to have better access from building to building and have a greater degree of self-sufficiency.”
For children with disabilities living in Cambodia, access to education is limited and the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty is almost nonexistent. UNICEF notes in its State of the World’s Children 2013: Children with Disabilities report that globally, close to 61 percent of boys finish school but for boys with disabilities that number drops to 51 percent. For girls, 53 percent finish school but among those living with a disability, only 42 percent finish their education.
Don Bosco Kep provides basic, secondary and technical education to poor youth living in the Cambodian provinces of Kep, Kampot, Takeo, Ratanakiri and Mondolkiri. The school’s educational and social development programs help students break the cycle of poverty and become contributing members of their communities.
Because students with disabilities are so marginalized in Cambodia, it is taking some time for families to learn about the modifications at the school and send their children to the newly accessible campus. The school currently has a few students with physical disabilities. Salesian missionaries plan to continue to promote their accessible campus for other students who wish to access education in an environment that accommodates them.
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