The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which former interim President Roza Otunbayeva signed over a year ago, is awaiting ratification by the Kyrgyz parliament. The delay is hindering the vast majority of children with special needs in Kyrgyzstan from gaining increased access to educational opportunities.
Part of the problem of educational access in Kyrgyzstan is connected to a belief – even among some parents of disabled children – that children with special needs should attend a “special” school, or not attend at all.
Thirteen-year-old Sergei Ryzhkov has epilepsy. He doesn’t go to school, and spends most of his time playing on his computer. He enjoys listening to music and watching television. He cannot read or write. His mother says she is too terrified to send him to school. “I believe it is wrong to send children with special needs to our schools,” said Sergei’s mother, Olga Ryzhkova.
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