Early Intervention
Practices in Ethiopia
Tirussew Teferra, Professor of Special Needs
Education, Ababa University, June 2010
Key Features of Early Intervention n
Practices in Ethiopia
Traditional Practices
A.
Public Perceptions of disabilities/understandings/
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[Supernatural, possessed by evil spirit, evil deeds of the parents etc.]
[Different forms of psychological reactions towards the CwDs ]
Institutions
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Religious Institutions /Christians/Muslims /
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Deep prayer / Duaa/Reading religious texts/,
Receiving a sprinkling of holy water,
Drinking holy water,
Eating & drinking blessed materials, &
Putting ‘eminet.’ (ash like substance) on the affected part of the body.
Tradional Practices …
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Traditional Healers
[Awaki,Metsehaf-gelach, Debtera, Bale-zar, Qqalecha &
Wegesha]
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Traditional Medicne /Treatment
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Herbal medicine administered internally or externally,
Indigenous psychotherapy (including written material to
be hanged on the neck or shoulder ), &
Indigenous physiotherapy “ Wegesha”.
Consequences
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The efforts in most cases have proved to be unsuccessful.
This among others has :
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Eroded family resources,
Resulted the development of minor impairments to
major disabilities,
Some may end-up to be harmful and fatalistic
Created different forms of family crisis & feeling
hopelessness in the family
Consequences cont…
The misconceptions coupled with the hurdles
of the traditional treatment patterns make the
child not only devoid of timely psychosocial
and sensory stimulation but may also expose
him/her to additional health problems.
Socio cultural conceptions metaphors regarding
Early Intervention
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“Lejen be tut ehilen be tikiment”
[As the month of October is the right time for crop harvest so is
breast - feeding the right time for molding a child’s behavior. ]
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“Zaf belejenet yetarekal”
[It is easy to straighten a tree during its nursery

stage.]
“Eebaben be einchechu” [You can deal with the snake
during its early stage (zygotic phase)]

“Tamo kememakek askedemo methenkek”
[One should take care of oneself before falling to illness.]
Useful and Harmful Child rearing
practices
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Early mother child emotional bondage
Breast feeding
Limitation of the role of the father on early
child care
Disabling harmful practices
Widespread use of corporal punishment
Prevalence of child labour, abuse and
neglect
Opportunities/Policies
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Health Policy
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( FDRE,1996)
Encourages early utilization of available health care
facilities for the management of common childhood
diseases;
Promotes health care services, such as, maternal health
care family planning; maternal nutrition;
Enhances access and utilization of immunization
services ; and
Encourages the active involvement of parents in
protecting and maintaining family health.
Policy-framework cont…
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Developmental and Social Welfare Policy
(FDRE,1997)
Promotes care and services to children so as to ensure
their all-rounded and harmonious development;
Encourages the protection of children from any forms of
neglect and abuses; and
Warrants the necessity of directing efforts towards the
elimination of harmful traditional practices.
Encouraging undertakings by the
Government
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Maternal & primarily health care education/health extension
programs
Immunization,
Provision of health care services in the hospitals, clinics &
outreach programs,
An attempt to co-ordinate early childhood education programs, &
Raising the awareness of the general public on the traditional
harmful practices, right of the child, child abuse & neglect , family’s
right etc.
Non-governmental organizations
[Local & International]
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Community-Based Rehabilitation Services
[Health, Education, Vocational Training, Advocacy &
Income Generating etc.,]
Medical & Training Centers
Sheltered Vocational-Training Centers
Treatment & Rehabilitation Centers
Drop-in Centers for Street Children
Prosthetic & Orthotic Production Centers.
Early intervention : The way
forward in Ethiopia
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Scientific & practical reasons to start early :
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Prevention of pre, peri & post-natal childhood disabling factors,
Enhancement of the child’s development [cognitive & sensory
stimulation],
Exploiting the optimal readiness for learning,
Building healthy psycho-social well-being,
Provision of family assistance [parents & siblings],
Undertaking cost-effective intervention[ requires less time &
effort )&
Ensuring economic benefits [maximizes the child’s & the
family’s benefit to society].
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Thank You !!
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Early Intervention Practices in Ethiopia