All the schools in the country will be opening next year including 20 Special Educational Needs Schools (SEN) and 2 Special Institutes, Wangsel Institute in Paro and Muenselling Institute in Khaling.
All 744 students will follow the same health protocols of the other general schools across the country. There will be no segregation because it is an inclusive school.
Chief Program Officer of ECCD and SEN Division, Sherub Phuntshok said the students would follow the same protocols as in general schools. The ministry or the schools do not segregate students because the moment segregation of the students happens then there will be feelings inculcated in them. Every child is the same.
So the education ministry has developed the safety protocols in line with the health protocols issued by the health ministry. However, during this pandemic, children with special needs are the hardest hit so that is why in the school system the education ministry has been communicating that children with special needs should be brought into a forefront and whatever it is, they should be given first priority.
There is shortage of manpower but SEN coordinators (SENCOs) are there to give extra care and guide them during COVID-19 pandemic. Other students in general schools will follow the sign board to follow safety protocols but students with special needs may not be able to, he added.
The education ministry is hopeful that there will not be many issues in SEN schools.
In all the schools, the wash facilities are already in place. He said there will be some challenges and COVID-19 is a very complex disease, it is not only the cough and cold but it affects all parts of the body.
It will be hard on children with special needs as they are already going through emotional challenges and access to education. Because for them there should be face to face teaching learning and during this pandemic, but it was not possible. So as a result, the learning outcome for them will be not as expected and internet accessibility will also be the problem because children with special needs are also from the rural pockets of the population and most do not have smart phones.
But the education ministry will make sure that in no way the children with special needs will miss the education and so they will get the admission for the next academic year.
On the curriculum front, the education ministry has already completed developing the adaptive curriculum and prioritized curriculum.
The schools with SEN program and the special institutes will follow these two types curriculums like the rest. The students following prioritized curriculum will be as same as the general schools curriculum. For example, students studying in Muenselling institutes will follow the prioritized curriculum. There can be no problem but there may be few students who might face difficulties and for them, further adaptation and modification of the curriculum will be required to suit the learning and that adaptation is taken care of by the teachers. If a student has low vision, their teacher will again further modify and make the fonts larger.
Sherub Phuntshok said the teachers who are providing services to the special educational program are over burdened. Apart from taking care of the roles and responsibility of other general students, they take care of the students with special needs too. There are SEN coordinators in every school though. Sherub Phuntshok also said that there are possibilities that there could be more children with special needs who are not enrolled in the SEN schools or special institutes in the country.
Meanwhile, the students with special needs of Phuentsholing Thromde are relocated in Thinleygang Middle Secondary School in Punakha.
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