17 Jul EmbraceAbility’s After-School Programme
We all wish we could wave a wand and make inclusive classrooms an immediate reality. But the process is not easy or simple. The sustainable inclusion of children with disabilities in mainstream classrooms requires research, time, and a responsivity and adaptability of approach. Most importantly, helping children to flourish in education requires an acknowledgment of the individual – no two people are the same, and nobody’s educational needs are the same. With that in mind, EmbraceAbility has started an after-school programme. Tailored to the needs of children with disabilities who attend school, we want to support them in their learning during this transformative time in their community educational setting.
The future of inclusive education on Koh Dach Island
EmbraceAbility is currently undertaking research in order to provide a Teacher Training Programme, the first of its kind on Koh Dach Island. The aim of this programme is to empower and equip local teachers with the skills and confidence necessary to educate children with disabilities in their classrooms. Training will include a broad range of educational strategies and approaches taught by a dedicated training team. We intend to give teachers on-site mentors who can offer perspectives from Special Educational Needs, Occupational Therapy and Social work, We deem this a very important endeavour in the interest of sustainability; developing the skills of existing teachers, already well-regarded and trusted in their communities, provides a community with an educational resource that is inexhaustible and accessible to those who have previously been excluded.
In the lead-up to EmbraceAbility’s sustainable training initiatives, we have emphasised and worked hard to build the capacity and societal participation of children with disabilities and their families on Koh Dach Island. An essential part of our work so far has been the integration of children with disabilities into mainstream schooling, yielding significant results. To date, EmbraceAbility has successfully facilitated the integration of 4 children with disabilities into state school classrooms.
While we are proud of this achievement, our focus is now the retention of these students in their classrooms. To that end, our after-school programme offers flexible and individualised lessons that help our beneficiaries keep up with their curriculum. We acknowledge that children are differential learners. In this smaller setting, our staff and volunteers take time to identify appropriate learning styles with focused attention and care.
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of observing an after-school lesson attended by Liza and Songha.
With a focus on handwriting and numeracy, the kids are thrilled to be making progress!
With this programme, we hope that children can go back to their classrooms with a greater sense of confidence and get more enjoyment from the school experience with their peers. A new idea in Koh Dach classrooms, we acknowledge that educational inclusivity will take time before it is considered the norm, with teachers taking the lead with the appropriate tools and skills. For now, it is imperative that the children making their start in state school classrooms are thriving and visible to those around them. These little pioneers will be the first in demonstrating a learning environment that is accepting and tolerant to all people, disabled or otherwise.