Inclusive Education (IE) Programme
in Mundri West and Mundri East Counties.
The Sudan Evangelical Mission (SEM) is a Christian-based, indigenous, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) established in 1998 with the aim of responding to the increased suffering of the marginalized and disadvantaged people among the communities in 3 Counties of Mundri West, Mundri East and Mvolo (in Western Equatoria State); and Wau (in Western Bahr el Ghazal State) in South Sudan. Legally, the organization is registered as a Non – Governmental Organization (NGO) with the Ministry of Social Affairs and with the South Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (SSRRC) the national level.
SEM initiated inclusive Education in July 2008 and this was as a result of needs identified in the community by the community based rehabilitation workers in the SEM’s CBR programme. The issue of education for children with disabilities is mainly about inclusion, so that they have access to the same schools together with children without disabilities. However, the lack of support services, relevant materials, trained teachers and support personnel are major stumbling blocks for implementation of integration in the country. As most of the international instruments recognizes education for children with disabilities and advocating for ‘’Education for All’’ provoke SEM to draw much emphasises to the large number of children with disabilities who are excluded from education as in Article 23, 28 and 29 of United Nation Convention on the Rights of Children clearly stipulate their need i.e. children with disabilities to join mainstream schools regardless of what type of disability the child has.
Note: The inclusive Education (IE) project is the first of its kind in Western Equatoria state and Mundri counties in particular.
What is Inclusive education?
Inclusion in education:
- Is a process of enabling all children to learn and participate effectively within mainstream school systems.
- It does not segregate children who have different abilities or needs.
- Inclusive education is a rights-based approach to educating children and includes those who are subject to exclusionary pressures.
- Inclusive education creates a learning environment that is child centred, flexible and which enables children to develop their unique capacities in a way which is conducive to their individual styles of learning.
The process of inclusion contributes to the academic development and social and economic welfare of the child and its family, enabling them to reach their potential and to flourish.
Inclusive education is different from integration as it only emphasizes the right placement of pupils with disabilities in the mainstream schools. Integration only applies to the child in which he/she need to change in order to be able to participate in the already existing school system. However, in inclusive education (IE) – a change is needed to address accessibility, change in attitude of school authorities, staff, pupils themselves including those with disability, parents of CWDs, the able children parents and the local community as well.
NB: In some case, special education remains an effective strategy for providing education for specific groups of children (within inclusive school systems). e.g. ‘Blind children who are taught Braille in small groups while other children learn to read written words’. But we do want to abolish the concept of special schools which separate children with disabilities from non-disabled children, thus segregating children with disabilities from daily life in the community.
Overall objective of the Inclusive Education project:
The overall objectives of the inclusive education project in Mundri West & East Counties are as follow:
“Full access to full cycle of Basic education of good quality education for all children of school going age in South Sudan”
Specific objective: “Equal access of children with Disabilities (CWDs) to Inclusive Education in mainstream schools’’
Why do we need inclusion?
- Because children – whatever their disability or learning difficulty – have a part to play in society after school. An early start in mainstream playgroups or nursery schools, followed by education in ordinary schools and colleges, is the best preparation for an integrated life.
- Education is part of, not separate from, the rest of children’s lives. Disabled children can, and are, being educated in mainstream schools with appropriate support. There are many different ways of achieving this.
For it to be effective, administrators and ordinary schools have to adapt their approach to:
- the curriculum,
- teaching support,
- funding mechanisms
- And the built environment.
- The need for inclusive education, for all children:
- All children have dreams, interests and needs to learnt
- Children with disability & without need to explore the world in order to learn.
- Children need to socialize with their peers to develop their identity.
- The separation of children with disabilities by their own community deprives them from the basic stimulation of daily life.
- Children with disabilities need protection like all children do, but keeping them fully dependent on carers threatens their cognitive and social development and increases the risk of neglect and abuse.
- Their exclusion from education reinforces and deepens illiteracy and this increases high dependency and poverty for disabled children and for those who care for them in their families.
- All children have unique capacities, opinions and needs and have their own styles of learning.
- All children need education to break the cycle of illiteracy, dependency and poverty. An educated child is more likely to participate, to become self-reliant and to contribute to society than an illiterate child or a child who is separated from mainstream schooling
- Children, with their variety in behaviour, communication and styles of learning create a challenge for teachers. Teaching disabled children confronts teachers with their own beliefs, behaviour, style and methods of teaching.
Remember, ‘’Education which is inclusive of children with disabilities is not easy, but the job as teacher may become more interesting and the teaching methods may respond more to the variety of learning needs of all the children with and without disabilities. All the children in the classroom benefit from more child-centred, flexible and creative approaches’’.
Disability-friendly toilets constructed by SEM in all pilot schools
What ensures good practice?
- a commitment to the principle of inclusion
- putting inclusive education on a human rights platform
- ensuring redistribution of the major resources and funding as children become included; securing new funding where necessary.
- informing parents so they make better-judged decisions; taking their views much more into account than at present.
- obtaining the child’s views with age-appropriate discussions.
- making heads, teachers, governors, administrators and politicians aware of the issues, ensuring that disabled children’s education is not a lower priority than others.
Inclusive Education project Activities Summary.
- Awareness rising to the parents of children with disabilities, in schools through child to child approach on inclusive education and special needs education.
- Teacher training on inclusive education and special needs education in collaboration with County Education Directors of the two Counties (CED).
- Screening and assessment of CWDs who are already enrolled in the mainstream schools and those in the surrounding community.
- Tracking of the CWDS performance, integration in the piloted schools.
- Advocacy to County education offices in both counties (MoEST) and Teacher training institutes to adapt the IE curriculum.
- Referral of CWDs to regular schools and also conducting of severe case referrals to nearby PHCCs and Hospitals.
- Monitoring and support visits to the schools in order to strengthened the capacity of the head teachers and teachers in the mainstream schools.
- Provision of assistive devices to CWDS who are enrolled in regulars schools through the CBR program:
- Provision of guidance and counselling to children with disabilities and their parents.
- School environment simple modification to suit the interest of CWDs in the mainstream schools i.e. ramps construction and toilets modified to meet the need CWDs in school etc.
- Training of activities of daily living (ADLs) to CWDs in schools, pre- school assessment of CWD`s by CBR workers as well as follow up in schools.
Barriers to inclusive education:
- The physical distance to mainstream schools
- The lay-out of schools with high thresholds and stairs,
- Poor learning environment both in classrooms and the outside surroundings (Not disability friendly)
- Lack of child-centred school curricula that is inclusive
- The teachers lack the basic teaching skills in order to work in a flexible manner with all the children
- Negative attitudes of the community towards education of Children with disability like banning children with disabilities from school and thus denying them a life of growing up with, and feeling like, all the other children
- Existence of nodding disease in greater Mundri and its luck of medication in general, though people still use anti – convulsion.
- Many drop-out and many repeaters as a result of the existence of nodding and epilepsy
- Lack of teaching/learning equipments.
- The Teachers and the mainstream schools are not well supported by the government and some partners involved in implementing education activities.
- Some parents are not fully involved in supporting education for children with disabilities as most are left at home.