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Ibrahim Richard Bangura, Janet Njelesani, and Donald Njelesani

Girls with disabilities should receive the same opportunities to remain in school and complete education as their non-disabled peers. Education leads to more prosperous futures and is a way of overcoming poverty, particularly in contexts where the intersectionality of being a girl and having a disability increases vulnerability. In Sierra Leone, the risk of leaving school because of being a “night wife” is a concern for girls with disabilities. The concept of night wives is based on the experiences of girls and women with disabilities who are being used as sex partners by men who would not be seen openly with women with disabilities and who have no intention of long-term commitment. Men are abandoning girls and women with disabilities, often after the women become pregnant and have dropped out of school. This practice leaves girls and women with disabilities without support, education, or the means to raise a child, and further intensifies the vulnerability of girls and women with disabilities.


International agreements that aim to achieve universal primary education for all children, regardless of need or ability, have ensured that governments around the world have considered policy development to support greater equity in education. Many of the world’s more economically advantaged countries have made significant progress to ensure that all children have opportunities to attend school. Progress has also been evident in countries which are less advantaged, though often this has been inhibited because of a lack of resources and expertise. The relationship between policy, provision, and practice in education is complex, and in responding to international agreements, governments have needed to take account of their own cultural and socio-economic circumstances. While many administrations have adopted models developed in other countries, the need to take account of existing practices and to build upon local expertise is apparent.