Inclusive Futures wins Zero Project award for work on education

December 2023

Inclusive Futures has won a global award for our work on collaborating with organisations of people with disabilities (OPDs) across our inclusive education projects in Bangladesh, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria and Tanzania.

The Zero Project awards recognise innovative and scalable solutions to disability inclusion from around the world and are announced on International Day of People with Disabilities on 3 December.

People with disabilities and their representative organisations are often left out of decision-making in mainstream development programmes. This can result in a lack of local ownership and unsustained benefits for people with disabilities.

Under the UK aid-funded Disability Inclusive Development programme, Inclusive Futures has committed to ensuring OPDs have a central role in how the eleven partner organisations in the consortium design, implement, monitor and evaluate their projects. To make our engagement with disability organisations meaningful, and not tokenistic, we provide them with resources and support in exchange for their expertise. We also ensure that our OPD and consortium partners learn from one another about how they can strengthen their organisational practices to deliver more inclusive development.

A woman wearing a black and white patterned dress smiles at the camera.

Building successful partnerships with disability organisations

Inclusive Futures has developed guidance to support development professionals and organisations to meaningfully engage OPDs in their programmes.

Download our resources
A group of people are smiling and holding up A4 guides, outside a school in Nigeria.
OPD representatives, teachers and parents outside one of our project schools in Nigeria. © Kabantiok Solomon/Sightsavers

Through our inclusive education projects, we tackle the barriers that prevent children with disabilities from attending school, including those with multiple  and complex disabilities and other learning support needs. So far, the programme has supported nearly 1,700 children with disabilities to access education in five countries.

OPDs have a critical role in co-creating and carrying out our inclusive education project activities, including:

  • Doing community outreach to identify children with disabilities and encouraging families and caregivers to enrol them in regular schools;
  • Providing peer-to-peer support for parents and linking them to health and social services, so their children can access government-supported disability benefits and social protection schemes;
  • Sharing guidance with teachers, school-based management committees and teacher-parent associations on how they can make learning accessible for children with different disabilities;
  • Working alongside education officials in government committees, to influence policy-making on inclusive education provision at a local and national level.

Watch the video to learn more about how we collaborate with OPDs in our projects.

The Disability Inclusive Development programme is co-led by Sightsavers and the International Disability Alliance (IDA), the global representative alliance of organisations of persons with disabilities. IDA’s co-leadership has been instrumental in shaping the consortium’s approach to ensuring OPDs are meaningfully engaged throughout the planning, implementation and evaluation of our education projects.

Speaking about his role on the steering committee for our inclusive education project in Nigeria, OPD representative David Okon, said:

“The structure of the steering committee enabled the project to run effectively and efficiently. OPDs were able to give direction and guidance to the people who were implementing the project. People with disabilities took ownership, which inspired the community and resulted in increased enrolment of children with disabilities. For the Nigeria Association of the Blind, it was very impactful. Mutual benefits derived. We added our experience to the project and gained knowledge, which will help us in future projects.”

Speaking about the award, Inclusive Futures programme director Johannes Trimmel, said: “We’re delighted to receive this award. When people with disabilities and their representative organisations are left out of development programmes, they are more likely to be left behind their peers, and are also more likely to be left out of shaping and transforming the society they live in.

“By actively participating in our programme, OPDs have not only helped to remove the barriers to children with disabilities accessing our education projects, but they have also helped to transform mindsets within the education sectors and communities where we work. This will help to ensure that people with disabilities are included beyond the life-span of our projects.”

The Zero Project awards will be presented at the Zero Project conference in Vienna in February 2024.

“People with disabilities took ownership, which inspired the community and resulted in increased enrolment of children with disabilities.”