With the financial support from UNICEF, the Ministry of Education (MoE) has established threeadditional inclusive schools,Bjishong Central School in Gasa, Kuruthang Middle Secondary School in Punakha and Tshaphel Lower Secondary School in Haa.
The Senior Program Officer of Special Education Division, Ms. Pema Chodensaid the three schools have been identified and endorsed this year and it is in line with the education ministry’s 12th Five Year Plan to have 28 inclusive schools in the country, at least one inclusive school in every 20 dzongkhags and Thromdes.Identification of new inclusive schools will enhance the access to children with disabilities in the country. The establishment of new inclusive schools are done solely in consultation with the dzongkhag authorities and local leaders.
She said the ministry was supposed to cover up a few of the dzongkhags especially in the Southern Dzongkhags this year but due to COVID-19, they could not work on it. So that is why the ministry focused on other Dzongkhags without school with inclusive and special education programme.
Currently there are 18 students with disabilities in Bjishong CS, 14 students in Tshaphel LS and 7 students in Khuruthang MSS. Some students have physical disabilities, some have intellectual disabilities and some with learning difficulties. The teachers have expressed that schools might have more children with learning difficulties and other challenges if screened by professional experts.
The ministry will establish five more inclusive schools by 2023 including each in Samdrup Jongkhar Dzongkhag,Samdrup Jongkhar Thromde and Sarpang as per the 12th FYP. MoE identifies school for inclusive and special education after surveying for feasibility, prevalence of disability, catchment areas, proximity to other schools, health facilities and scope for collaboration with other support professionals in the community. It’s done in consultation with the local leaders, parents and the Dzongkhag/Thromde authorities.
The students with disabilities will have the same curriculum as general students but depending upon the individual’s abilities, support needs and scope of learning, schools will provide additional support, adaptation, modification and accommodation in their curriculum content and learning goals. The ministry has come up with standards and guidelines on educational support for learners with special educational needs.
The country has only a handful of trained Special Education teachers. Currently the teachers of three new schools are just provided with two day orientation on standard for inclusive education and sensitization on the disability concepts. Gradually the ministry will build the capacity of the teachers. The education ministry also conducts winter workshops on inclusive education modules and educational assessment and screening tools.
Deputy Chief of ECCD and SEN Division, Pema Chogyel shared that if parents are literate, they might try finding inclusive schools where they can admit their child whereas there are children who are left behind because most of the parents do not have any knowledge or information on inclusive schools in the country. If assessed properly, there will be children with learning difficulties and other disabilities in all schools across the country. That’s why the inclusive and special education programmehave to be in all schools so that the schools can provide at least basic required support when needs arise.
Parents of children with disabilities also have to be positive in educating their children. Sometimes parents think that their children cannot do anything but parents, schools and communities should acknowledge their abilities and empower them so that the child becomes more meaningful in the community.
He said everyone should consider the education for children with disabilities as essential and if these children are not given educational access then attaining 100 percent net enrollment in education is very difficult. Disability is a probable condition for all. With emerging socio-economic conditions, unhealthy living styles, accidents, complications, age and others, everyone is likely to experience disabilities. Therefore, think and work for building inclusive services for all when you can, be responsive and empathetic.