My Right is Our Future: The Transformative Power of Disability-Inclusive Education
Providing Education to Persons with Disabilities - Case Studies
CBM is launching its book on Inclusive Education at the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires on 29 November 2018. To mark this event, we have compiled a list of case studies highlighting the important of inclusive education.
Special school transformation in Burkina Faso
The Integrated Education and Training Centre for Deaf and Hearing People (CEFISE), a CBM partner in Burkina Faso, originally ran a day special school for deaf learners. The school built up expertise in educational provision, audiology, speech and language, and psychological support services. The school director then decided that the school should accept hearing learners with and without disabilities alongside deaf and hard of hearing learners.
The school now employs deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing teachers who work together in most classes, particularly in early education classes. There are transition classes for deaf learners who start school late. They provide a language- and communication-rich environment for one to two years, after which these learners are included alongside other deaf and hearing learners in inclusive classes. Inclusive classes have sign language interpreters. The school still provides audiological assessments and hearing aids for those who can benefit from them. Deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing learners experience a bilingual education and deaf and hearing cultures.
While the school now supports learners with other disabilities, those with autism or other complex learning needs are still referred to specialist centres in the city. Nevertheless, CEFISE’s school now provides capacity building and resource support to other schools in Burkina Faso.
Mainstream and special schools working together in Vietnam
In a programme run by Nguyen Dinh Chieu school (CBM’s partners in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam), children who are blind have choices as to whether to attend mainstream schools or remain in the resource centre in segregated classes where there are boarding facilities. Some of those who attended the residential resource centre for a year or two and then went to their local community school said they missed the extracurricular activities available at the resource centre, such as music, art, and vocational training. They preferred to return to the residential facility, as their community school was unable to offer such extracurricular activities. In response to the children’s views, and to encourage children to choose to stay and feel more comfortable in their local community school, the resource centre offered extracurricular activities on weekends and during holidays, for children at mainstream schools. The school also provided more support for learners in the community school through resources provided by the resource centre and in-service training for mainstream teachers.
Using radio for home-based education in Sierra Leone
In 2011, the international child rights agency Child to Child and its local partner, Pikin to Pikin Movement, ran an ECD programme in Kailahun District, an area badly affected by the country’s civil war. Because of the postconflict context, a programme called Getting Ready for School had a strong focus on life skills and child protection.
When the Ebola outbreak hit the area in early 2014, the ECD programme stopped. It was too dangerous to bring learners and teachers together. The programme was converted into a child-friendly and participatory ‘radio for education’ series called Pikin to Pikin Tok, which is still running.
There are three radio programmes. One is aimed at very young children, using traditional storytelling to address real-life issues and help develop numeracy and literacy skills. The second uses music to achieve similar aims, for slightly older children. The third is for older children, and it supports them in thinking critically about life skills issues that have emerged since the Ebola outbreak, such as increased stigma, exclusion, disability, sexual violence, and teenage pregnancy.
The radio programmes give a voice to marginalised children and young people in Kailahun District. The aim is to inspire children to work together to tackle the stigma and exclusion they face from being affected by Ebola. The radio programmes help them learn about minimising the risks of catching Ebola and other serious diseases, and about other health and life skills messages, which they then share with peers and neighbours.
Children co-create the content of the radio programmes; 36 have been trained as young journalists who identify stories and conduct interviews. Wind-up solar powered radios have been distributed and children are supported to listen to the broadcasts by trained adult volunteer facilitators. Through phoneins, children can share their experiences of the issues addressed in the programme, and adults are on hand to support the discussions.
The role of persons with disabilities in teacher training in Iraq
In northern Iraq, the Ministry of Education developed introductory courses on inclusive education for Ministry-employed teachers, and awareness-raising sessions for education leaders. Local DPOs helped identify adults with disabilities who could contribute to the trainings. Deaf and blind adults shared their personal stories about the role education had played in their lives. They demonstrated assistive resources and daily living techniques. Deaf adults taught basic sign language to teachers, using words the teachers wanted to learn. They also demonstrated visual story-telling.
At awareness seminars for school principals, education officials, and decision makers, persons with disabilities were included as participants, contributing their perspectives on inclusion. Disability rights advocates were guest lecturers, “providing detailed theoretical and practical information, and delivering hard-hitting messages on combatting discrimination.”
Feedback from participants indicated that this approach “helped teachers to see people with disabilities as partners in upholding the rights of children in their classes, rather than as passive recipients of charitable services.” The training activities initiated or reinforced cooperation between DPOs and the inclusive education programme.
Empowered parents support inclusion in Nicaragua
CBM has worked with ASOPIECAD in Nicaragua on CBR work since 2006. In 2012, the partnership helped 561 children with disabilities be included in mainstream education. One of those children was Maria, a 10-yearold girl with Down syndrome. The CBR programme guided and supported her family so that they could better support Maria to attend a mainstream primary school and participate in community life. The CBR workers initially visited the family to help them overcome their fear of taking Maria to public places. They saw potential in the levels of care given by Maria’s mother and encouraged her to attend CBR trainings. Maria’s mother was so inspired and encouraged that she now works with the CBR programme, sharing her experiences and supporting and encouraging other families to include their children in school and community life. She provides families with advice and support on early education in her own community as well as in the municipality, and she offers support to members of parents’ self-help groups.
Collaborative local-level advocacy in India
A programme supported by CBM – Regional Action on Inclusive Education Northeast in India – is developing a resource centre approach to supporting inclusive education, offering opportunities to bring different stakeholders together for advocacy purposes. Special schools are being transformed into these resource centres. The programme has partnerships with CBR, local government, and community services, such as health, education, and training institutions to advocate for inclusive education within communities.
Around the world, resource centres are often given quite a narrow role, such as hosting specialist staff who provide supportto children and teachers. The CBM-supported resource centres in India are designed more holistically, as hubs for a range of inclusive education activities. They share knowledge, build teacher capacity, distribute assistive and low-vision devices, provide information and communication technology (ICT) support, provide early learning kits and audiobooks, support inclusive education programmes and vocational and livelihoods capacity building, and conduct advocacy.
As part of their advocacy role, the resource centres:
- network with government education departments and other service providers;
- support the formation of parents’ groups to work together on advocacy and self-help activities;
- develop and deliver inclusive education awareness programmes, including among community health workers; and
- facilitate the empowerment of inclusion champions, self-advocates, and children’s groups.
CBM's book on Inclusive Education
Inclusive education as an approach is still not widely understood. This publication explores the challenges and provides practical suggestions on how to support disability-inclusive education systems that can better meet both the general and specific learning needs of all children, including those with disabilities. It recognises that inclusive education is a complex process and aims to help governmental and non-governmental actors to navigate the most suitable pathways to change. Access the book here.