Mauritania has signed up to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, but has not adopted a definition of inclusive education, despite the term being used in its National Strategy for Accelerated Growth and Shared Prosperity (SCAPP in French) 2016–2030. The State asserts that "children with special needs will be accommodated to the fullest extent possible within mainstream schools, with appropriate arrangements for inclusive education. Special attention will be paid to the educational needs of children with learning disabilities" (National Strategy for Accelerated Growth and Shared Prosperity, 2016, p. 51). The concept of special educational needs primarily concerns disability.
The Three-Year Education Sector Action Plan for 2016–2018 notes that "making inclusive education a reality often requires existing infrastructure and facilities to be adapted." The action plan provides for 100 schools to be adapted each year.
Despite the stated purpose of the National Strategy for Accelerated Growth and Shared Prosperity, "children who, due to the nature of their disability, cannot be educated in mainstream schools will continue to be accommodated by the Centre for Training and Social Advancement of Children with Disabilities (CFPSESH), which will receive capacity-building and see its resources significantly improve. The action plan will pay particular attention to the educational needs of children with learning disabilities and a centre will be set up for the education of autistic children" (p. 5).
A number of measures have been implemented in the area of special education, including the establishment of the Centre for Training and Social Advancement of Children with Disabilities and the creation of an educational complex for people with learning disabilities in Sebkha, schools and a home for deaf people in Kaédi, Nouakchott and Sebkha, and a literacy and training centre for young blind people in El Mina. There are also special preschools for children with disabilities. One centre is also supervised by the Ministry of Social Affairs, Children and the Family and educates deaf, blind and/or autistic children and children with motor or learning disabilities. Two new centres specializing in training for people with different types of special needs and disabilities will be created under the National Strategy for Accelerated Growth and Shared Prosperity 2016–2030.
The Constitution does not enshrine the right to education, but states that all citizens, regardless of origin, race, sex or social status, are equal before the law. Normative measures on education are set out in legislation (art. 57).
The Second National Education Sector Development Programme (PNDSE II in French) for 2011–2020 provides for the "establishment of a tailored and inclusive informal primary education offer, giving children (aged 9 to 14 years) who have dropped out of or never attended school the opportunity to integrate or reintegrate into the formal school system." However, the plan does not include a national strategy for inclusive (or even special) education.
The National Disability Policy recognizes the right of persons with disabilities to education. However, article 9 of Act No. 5-023 of 20 January 1975 provides that "students may, during their schooling, be permanently excluded by the regional director of basic education with territorial jurisdiction, after consulting the Council of Teachers, [on the grounds of] a mental or physical condition incompatible with schoolwork, on the basis of a medical certificate, or for behaviour that jeopardizes the smooth running of the school." On the other hand, Act No. 054-2001 provides for penalties in the form of fines for an individual responsible for a child who, without good reason, refuses to enrol him or her in primary school (article 10).
The Second National Education Sector Development Programme 2011–2020 aims to reduce gender disparities, especially at the secondary level. It provides for the introduction of measures to promote the enrolment of girls, particularly in rural areas. The action plan in place addresses the challenge with a series of initiatives, including: the Sahel Women's Empowerment and Demographic Dividend (SWEDD) project financed by the World Bank; the continuation of studies to better understand the barriers and adjust responses; awareness campaigns; support for transport; distribution of school kits; and direct assistance to families.
Ethnicity and languages
Arabic-French bilingualism is common among children starting out in education. Arabic education is provided in Arabic or in the Hassaniya dialect, which places children from these communities at a disadvantage. Not enough time is spent teaching in French for students to learn the language. In fact, the French language has officially being removed from the current policy. This policy can be summarized by article 6 of the 1991 Constitution, which specifies that the "national languages" are Arabic, Fula, Soninke and Wolof, and that Arabic is the official language.
Teaching in Arabic is a fundamental principle of higher education in various fields of training, while "allowing, if needed, teaching in foreign languages, as well as the promotion of national languages (Fula, Soninke and Wolof)."
People living in remote or rural areas
The Second National Education Sector Development Programme 2011–2020 aims to increase access to public and community preschool education for disadvantaged groups in urban and rural areas and to reduce disparities related to geographic location and socioeconomic status. To this end, the plan sets out measures to strengthen educational capacity, particularly in rural areas, by building local secondary schools with a viable number of places and providing water points and solar energy to rural schools. The plan also provides for the organization of regular visits by health workers to schools far from public health facilities.
A school television channel has also been launched. The aim of this initiative is to provide free education to a large number of students who do not have the means to pay for catch-up or remedial courses.
The priority education areas aim to strengthen educational provision in disadvantaged areas, such as the Adwabas, which are agricultural villages in southern Mauritania.
The Second National Education Sector Development Programme 2011–2020 aims to expand access to preschool, particularly in rural areas and for children from poor backgrounds. This will be achieved by distributing school supply kits to students from disadvantaged backgrounds (from 2012/13, 25 per cent of students will be provided with school supply kits) and providing schools with canteens (100 new canteens to be opened each year, with a view to gradually increasing the percentage of schools with canteens to 45 per cent by 2020). The plan also provides for the construction and outfitting of 69 public preschools in disadvantaged areas. However, it is difficult to assess the impact of these initiatives.
The Ministry of Social Affairs, Children and the Family and the Ministry of the Interior are working together on the issue of street children. Education and vocational training are provided to street children by the child protection and social integration centre. The centre also provides psychological, legal and social support to other children living with violence, exploitation, discrimination, abuse and neglect. It allows the identification, referral, reception and protection of these students, with a view to their return to school and their education.
Education is primarily the responsibility of the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education. The Ministry of Social Affairs, Children and the Family implements programmes to promote family education and is responsible for ensuring equal access for vulnerable people – including persons with disabilities, indigenous people and children in vulnerable situations – to all levels of education and vocational training. This responsibility is shared with the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research. The Ministry of Employment, Vocational Training and New Technologies is responsible, among other things, for introducing information and communication technology (ICT) into education through an E-education programme. The Ministry of Islamic Affairs and Traditional Education is responsible for promoting traditional education and integrating traditional education graduates into the education system. Finally, the Ministry of Housing, Urban Planning and Regional Development is responsible for building schools that are suitable for girls and boys, including those with disabilities. It also ensures that existing facilities are adapted for this purpose and provide an effective learning environment that is safe, free from violence and accessible to all.
A national multisectoral council created in 2013 by decree 2010-222 is responsible for the advancement of persons with disabilities. This council is chaired by the Prime Minister's adviser. Organizations representing the various categories of persons with disabilities are part of this council, but the Department of Education is not sufficiently involved in the care of students with disabilities. There is a regional coordination team for children with disabilities, but it has no headquarters and no discernible activities.
The Three-Year Education Sector Action Plan 2016–2018 sets out certain measures to improve the governance system, including the establishment of consultation and arbitration mechanisms for the education system and an adequate communication system. At present, education continues to be managed relatively centrally. The State aspires to increase the responsibility and resources accorded to regional and local actors and to set up coordination, participation and partnership mechanisms.
Infrastructure and services
Two buses are provided to transport children with disabilities to the Centre for Training and Social Advancement of Children with Disabilities, under the supervision of the Ministry of Social Affairs, Children and the Family. This centre, which educates deaf, blind and/or autistic children and those with motor or learning disabilities, has a school canteen and an on-site dormitory. However, the centre faces several shortcomings, including a shortage of professional trainers and specialist teachers, no adapted textbooks, a lack of supervision and pedagogical follow-up and the challenge of students continuing their studies at the secondary level.
The Centre for Training and Social Advancement of Children with Disabilities curriculum covers only basic education from grades 1 to 6 and preschool. It offers workshops in art, carpentry (for boys only), sewing (for girls only), and computing and Internet classes, among others, and teaches in Unified Arabic and American Sign Language and Braille.
Teaching materials and ICT
The National Multisectoral Council for the Advancement of Persons with Disabilities (CNMCPPH) notes that there are no educational materials adapted to the needs of children with sensory, visual and learning disabilities.
The National Pedagogical Institute is responsible for the in-service training of teachers and educational support staff. The National Multisectoral Council for the Advancement of Persons with Disabilities aspires to introduce a training module on special education at the teacher training college. Moreover, the Three-Year Education Sector Action Plan 2016–2018 seeks to introduce a gender approach to large-group management into the training of teachers, inspectors and principals of rural secondary schools. Finally, it should be noted that there is no national policy on specialist teacher training.
Mauritania does not have an education monitoring report, nor are there any indicators to monitor inclusive education.