Siti, From Indonesia who Teaches Children with Disabilities

6 May

Siti is both trained and experienced in inclusive education. Her classes are spread over the school though she focuses on year 4, 5 and 6. “There are 44 children with disability out of 672 across 17 classes in the school that I teach in. They are aged 7 to 13 years old”

Did you notice what was so wonderful? An inclusive class!

A classroom in which students with multiple abilities are taught in the same classroom by a specialised trained teacher.

This is not that common across the world at all. It is a sad fact that children with disabilities are often deprived of education. What is worse is that children who have parents with disabilities too suffer and are often left out of education. Take a look at some global statistics:

[Here are the fact sheets:  http://www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/HQ/ED/pdf/Facts-Figures-gmr.pdf ]

But look here at the sad statistics across the world:

In Malawi and Tanzania, a child with a disability is twice as likely to have never attended school as a child without a disability.
In Burkina Faso, having a disability increases the risk of children being out of school by two and a half times.  
In Bolivia it is estimated that 95% of the population aged 6 to 11 years are in school, while only 38% of children with disabilities are – more than doubling the chances of not being in school.
In Ethiopia, according to the Ministry of Education, fewer than 3% of children with disabilities have access to primary education, and access to schooling decreases rapidly as children move up the education ladder.
In Nepal, 85% of all children out of school are disabled.
Girls with disabilities fare even worse than boys. In Malawi one study showed that more girls with disabilities have never attended school compared to boys with disabilities. This translates into lower literacy rates as adults: for instance, national statistics in Ghana show that the literacy rate for non-disabled adults stands at 70%, which reduces to 56% for adults living with disabilities, and this drops to just 47% for women with disabilities.
    Italy is the only European country in which almost all disabled pupils (over 99%) were included in mainstream schools.

(Source: http://www.campaignforeducation.org/en/global-action-week/global-action-week-2014)

These statistics are timely, as we at #teachertuesday join hands with educators all over the world to appreciate the work of teachers that deal with disabilities. This week we celebrate Siti from Indonesia as part of the Global Action Week for inclusive education for the Disabled student.
(More information on Global Action Week- http://www.unesco.org/new/en/education/themes/leading-the-international-agenda/education-for-all/advocacy/global-action-week/)

Siti teaches in a school that has ten such specially trained educators. She arranges the class in a U formation, making sure that the slow learners are placed close to her. She sets group work, ensuring that each group has the right mix of abilities. This means that all students learn to work at a pace

West Java in Indonesia has invested in this, and Siti has a masters in inclusive learning which gives her the tools to deal with the class. But even so the only real training that other teachers receive is what has been organised by local experts and those who can share their experience. It is an informal teachers network. The systemic efforts are still at the pilot stage – funding, ramps, teacher education. The attempt is to change the attitude of teachers so that they include these children and not just send them off to special school. Even so, dropouts happen and few go on to higher education.

Her advice to teachers? Work out what exact learning barriers each child is facing so that they can help with their learning. She maintains an ongoing tracker – she calls it a working paper – for each of her students performance that she measures along the goals they had set for the semester or year. This individualised tracking helps course correct during the year and each student benefits from this – those with ADHD get more attention, those with Downs Syndrome get appreciated for their efforts in dancing and singing. Some have tantrums that need to be managed, others need remedial lessons. She tries to boost their self confidence.

Districts have designated inclusive schools that can directly receive students with disabilities. Siti’s wish? In her own words, “My hope for the future is that there will be no such label as special inclusive schools as instead all schools in Indonesia will be inclusive!”

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