You are only as strong as your weakest link. This common adage is now the cornerstone of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s education ethos. It has designed an equity strategy to ensure students with disabilities get a shot at a well-rounded education. The philosophy behind the equity strategy doesn’t simply provide students services and infrastructure but actually defines a path to ensure these children who have previously fallen through the cracks are now brought into the formal education system. This is done by a commitment to Article 25A of the constitution that stipulates compulsory education of all children, no exceptions — and that distance from school, gender, or disability shouldn’t preclude them from accessing an education. To this end more schools are being built in remote and underserved areas, families are being given vouchers to access low-cost private education where there are no alternatives, the government is building new community girls schools and also providing stipends to support girls to complete school. The equity strategy also sets out steps that government will make to ensure that there is no discrimination within schools on the basis of disability. The government prioritises collecting accurate data on disabilities in KP, which helps ESED make viable education policies to aid disabled children and young people According to the Elementary and Secondary Education Department (ESED) of KP, there are thousands of students with disabilities in public schools in the province. Data on the types of disability which children of school-going age experience is being collected as part of the Annual School Census and includes full visual impairment; partial visual impairment; full hearing; partial hearing; full speech; partial speech; hand/arm disability; foot/leg disability and mental/psychological disability. Across KP, for decades, there has been a general neglect of these children. It is clear that without an education these children grow up to be dependent on their families. Early intervention in these cases can make or break their lives. It can make them independent and productive students who will eventually merge into a productive workforce. Schools have previously been unable to enroll disabled children because the school infrastructure does not support their easy access to and from classrooms. Across many schools in KP infrastructural upgrades for ramps, disability-friendly toilets and other structural improvements are being made. The objective is to do it across the province. E&SE department has decided to include the provision of ramps for disabled children in all the new schools of the province. A policy is also being made to add these ramps as part of missing facilities to the existing schools. The government prioritises collecting accurate data on disabilities in KP, which helps ESED make viable education policies to aid disabled children and young people. Very crucial data on disabilities is being collected through the Annual School Census and will be added to questions asked as part of the Out of School Children Survey. This guides and informs both policymakers and lawmakers to execute important adjustments to KP schools and make them more accommodating of students with disabilities. There are also several other initiatives targeted at removing other barriers for students with disabilities to access the education they need. Notable among these is sensitivity training for teachers that is planned to go into effect soon as part of the induction programme. A module on inclusive education has been developed and included as part of the content to be covered in the programme for newly recruited teachers in KP. The purpose of this is to raise teachers’ awareness about the presence of different abilities in the same classroom and to think about how to approach teaching children who learn at a different pace to others. Children with disabilities are an explicit target group of the government initiative of the Girls Community Schools (GCS). These schools allow enough proximity to provide students with disabilities with the ease of travel to school. Otherwise, the distance would be prohibitive and parents would not be comfortable sending these students to far away from public schools. There are over 1,700 GCS schools that encourage and enable disabled students from the community to enroll and learn the curriculum to the best of their abilities. These schools serve 99,000 students out of which 65 percent are young girls. Similarly, the education department’s voucher scheme also caters to children with disabilities. These students are one category of about 40,000 who are benefitting from the voucher scheme. Furthermore, the voucher scheme will add a transportation allowance this year of 500 rupees a month to facilitate travel to school for children with disabilities. Field-level implementation teams of ESED are instructed to actively seek out students with a disability. There is an education emergency throughout Pakistan. KP’s initiatives to enroll and keep students in school for long are creating positive change, as more and more students with disabilities are finding an enabling environment. What ultimately matters is that children with disabilities are given a chance at an equitable education first. The bar is thus raised for all children. The writer has over a decade of experience being a development consultant. She is currently working as an advisor in the education sector in KP. She tweets @AishaFSarwari Published in Daily Times, April 11th 2018.