Strengthening Institutional  Capacities for Successful  Inclusion of Children with  Disabilities in the Education  System
Strengthening Institutional Capacities for Successful Inclusion of Children with Disabilities in the Education System
Modelling inclusive schools to spark inclusive actions on education


The Nicaraguan public education system has traditionally provided education services to children with disabilities in “specialized institutions”. Integration or inclusion in regular schools has been sought in recent years, with integrated classrooms, integrated schools, etc. Teachers have been provided with basic knowledge and tools on how to deal with disabilities in the classroom. Some good practices have been developed, particularly with children with hearing disabilities in specific secondary schools. However, these efforts are sporadic and there is still a tendency in the school community to believe that children with disabilities should be part of a segregated education system for them to be successful in school.

Genuine inclusion would only happen when all members of the school community are working together to ensure that schools are ready to provide school services to all children, regardless of their specific learning needs or styles.

Towards a Solution

The project aims to equip the Ministry of Education of Nicaragua (MoE) with tools, resources, technology and specially a comprehensive approach to what an inclusive school should be, so that all children, regardless of their specific learning needs or styles, benefit from learning spaces where they can interact together and learn from each other´s potential and capabilities. In doing so, the project contributes to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4, target 4.5, as it facilitates the access of children with disabilities to inclusive, equitable, quality education and lifelong learning opportunities.

The project is in its second year of implementation. One key element that promises to make the project successful and sustainable is the level of ownership that the MoE is demonstrating, by taking the lead in the project. Also, the fact that the project is looking at different components, such as teacher training, accessible infrastructure, production of accessible learning materials and the use of technology for inclusion purposes, and social and behavioural change communication make the initiative interesting, engaging and mostly effective in meeting the goal of having learning spaces that are comprehensive in their approach.

The initiative is supported by the involvement of at least 4 actors – the Ministry of Education (MINED), the National Autonomous University (UNAN), the Zamora Terán Foundation and UNICEF – each contributing with their pedagogic, technological, academic/knowledge management and technical expertise. The participation of persons with disabilities is also ensured to guide the intervention.

Particularly in the production of learning materials, the project has taken advantage of the experience that other countries in Latin America (and elsewhere) have developed. For instance, Paraguay, a country that is ahead of Nicaragua in the production of digital and accessible textbooks, has been sharing its experiences and best practices in the production of a prototype and its field testing. Uruguay, Jamaica and Colombia are also working on digitally accessible textbooks, and periodic virtual meetings are organized for all parties to share their developments and learn from each other´s experiences.

Working on digital and accessible textbooks and other learning materials is one of the most innovative areas of the Strengthening Institutional Capacities for Successful Inclusion of Children with Disabilities in the Education System Initiative. The initiative brings knowledge of pedagogy, publishing, technology and disabilities together to create a digital application to respond to all learning needs and styles. Specially in a post-COVID-19 context, having access to such technology would make the country, and the education system, better prepared to serve students with education more effectively. Significant investment in technological equipment will be required to scale the project up as, ideally, every child should have access to personal equipment. However, technology is becoming more and more accessible, and in neighbouring countries this is already a reality. Nicaragua may be ready to roll out the use of personal equipment to every child and having school textbooks already digitalized and in an accessible format will make having a personal computer, a tablet of even a smartphone, much more useful.

So far, lessons learned in the first three semesters of the project include: 1. Technology with a purpose is what the education system needs to open up and welcome an initiative that may entail important changes in the way education has been delivered to the public. 2. Bringing together different sectors (academia, technology, private sector, public sector) ensures complementarities that are needed to achieve the goals. 3. Being open to experiences around the globe, especially in contexts that are similar to one´s own - other developing countries similar to Nicaragua where the initiative is also taking place - supports and validates what is being done, and provides an environment in which all involved feel comfortable and optimistic about the final results.

Contact Information

Jorge Luis Hernández Benavides, Education Specialist, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)

Countries involved

Brazil, Colombia, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Uruguay

Supported by

United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC), Eleva Foundation

Implementing Entities

Ministry of Education of Nicaragua, Nicaraguan National Autonomous University (UNAN), Zamora Terán Foundation +

Project Status


Project Period

1/2021 - 12/2024

URL of the practice

Primary SDG

04 - Quality Education

Primary SDG Targets

4.4, 4.5, 4.6, 4.7, 4.a

Secondary SDGs

10 - Reduced Inequalities, 17 - Partnerships for the Goals

Secondary SDG Targets

10.2, 10.3, 17.3, 17.7

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