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Born with no hands, Rowaid ‘still in struggle to receive school admission’

By Renad Aljadid - Sep 24,2018 - Last updated at Sep 25,2018

Rowaid, who lives in Zarqa, is seen in his first day at Al Rai Private School in Amman which awarded him a full scholarship but he still needs a more accessible alternative (Photo courtesy of Amjad Mualla’s Facebook page)

AMMAN — “All my attempts to register Rowaid in a school or kindergarten were doomed to failure,” said Reema Amer, the mother of the four-and-a-half-year-old boy “whose sole fault was being born without hands”.

“Every institution to which I applied refused my son for the same justification. They all claimed that his presence would frighten his peers,” the mother wrote in a public post on “Azeemetna” Facebook page, which is dedicated for the rights of persons with disabilities.

“What sort of fear or terror an innocent boy would do with no hands?” the mother asked, adding: “He is smart and with high mental abilities. Why can’t he learn like others?”  

A campaign titled “We are all Rowaid” went viral on social media early this week, calling for the little boy’s right to receive education. 

“Rowaid’s right to education is sacred and the ministry is responsible for ensuring his admission in whichever public or private school he chooses in line with the policies of adopting integrated education,” Minister of Education Azmi Mahafza wrote on his official Twitter account after the campaign was launched. 

Rowaid, who lives in Zarqa Governorate which is around 15km from Amman, received a generous offer from Al Rai Private School that awarded him a full scholarship following the minister’s remarks, but “his problem was not solved yet”.

Moataz Juneidi, the activist responsible for the “Azeemetna” page and the instigator of the struggle Rowaid’s campaign, said that the little boy is still facing transportation difficulties commuting to the school in Amman while he lives in Zarqa.

“We appreciate the offer of Al Rai school which pledged to cover his education expenses for the entire school year, but travelling for school from his governorate to Amman on daily basis is not a radical solution,” the activist, who is in a wheelchair himself, told The Jordan Times on Monday.

Juneidi noted they are still following up with the mother and the education minister to find a better alternative to Rowaid’s case.

“Rowaid is only one case of thousands of children who suffer the same struggle, but their stories were not heard or shared,” Hadeel Abu Soufeh, an activist for the rights of persons with disabilities and a wheelchair user herself, told The Jordan Times, adding: “We hope his story is the spark that will shed light again on the cause of integrated a.nd accessible education”

She agreed that it is still “very difficult and exhausting” for any little boy at Rowaid’s age, let alone with a disability, to travel between the two governorates twice every day even if a transportation vehicle is available.  

“Article 17 of the Law on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities # 20 for 2017 states that no person shall be excluded from an educational institution because of their disability,” noted Abu Soufeh, who is also a member of the board of trustees at the Higher Council for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, adding that there is an existing plan for the education ministry to begin implementing the integrated education.

“Education is the right to all children no matter how different they are from others; and we will continue our efforts to grant them this right and fight against the society stereotypes which reject their differences,” the activist concluded.

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