This article has been published in Enabling Education 2
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Title: Focusing on Community Support for Inclusive Education
Author: Duy, TD, Dube, S and Tabares, E
Publisher: EENET
Date: 1998

Focusing on community support for inclusive education…

Inclusive classrooms will not work in isolation. Strong links with community based development and consumer organisations are essential to the success of IE. Education is, after all, much broader than schooling.

In Vietnam, with the support of Radda Barnen, inclusive education has been introduced in conjunction with CBR at ministry and at local level.

Following the introduction of CBR through the Ministry of Health in 1987, the National Institute of Education and Science (NIES), based in Ha Noi, developed an educational component in 1991 linked to the CBR programme. Prior to this, there were many children with mild special educational needs attending mainstream schools, but they tended to drop out due to ‘lack of attention’. Although the CBR workers were very proficient in identification and rehabilitation activities, they needed the added support and expertise of teacher trainers to prepare the schools for inclusion.

The coordination of services between health and education has not been easy. Ideas and attitudes towards rehabilitation differ enormously between the two groups. However CBR workers have worked together with primary school teachers to make low cost rehabilitation aids and to conduct joint surveys to identify which children were ready to start school. Home learning is promoted in the family setting when it is not possible for a child to attend their local school. Age and degree of disability are not considered barriers to learning in the community context. With a population of 75 million, the task of introducing inclusive education is clearly enormous, and effective coordination between CBR workers and teachers essential.

“Where expertise is rare and specialists are few, it makes sense to utilise the limited expertise for both inclusive education and CBR training programmes.”

The promotion of inclusion through the Child-to-Child approach. Child-to-Child methodology is used as part of CBR programmes to empower and educate children about disability issues. The overall aim of the approach is to encourage children to become more responsible for their own health and that of their communities. It is a very effective strategy to reach all the children in a given community, both in and out of school. It is based on the principle that children learn better from each other and that they can have a major influence on the attitudes and practices of adults.

A pilot project was developed in a mainstream school in Jerusalem to promote inclusive education through the Child-to-Child approach. The school was chosen because of the attendance of a large number of disabled children. A new activity sheet was developed, based on issues of inclusion and exclusion, rather than on disability. A local disabled people’s organisation was actively involved in developing the activity sheet together with the children themselves. Ideally parents and other community members would also be involved. Full details about this project can be found on EENET’s web site.

A basic education programme run by para-teachers in the community enables Manobo children to be included in mainstream schools. The Manobo are a minority mountain community of 300,000 people struggling for their survival. They have been forced off their ancestral lands and are living in extreme poverty. They are reluctant to integrate with the settler communities and their children tend therefore to be excluded from educational opportunities. The Self-Help Education Programme Appropriate for Cultural Communities (SHEPACC), supported by Handicap International through Action Nord-Sud, provides basic and functional education for Manobo children. Community learning centres are run by para-teachers, who are identified by the community and receive community-based and culturally appropriate training. Approximately 10% of the children enrolled in the programme have so far been successfully included in mainstream schools.

For more information contact EENET, or the following people:
Mr Trinh Duc Duy . NIES . 101 Tran Hung Dao Street . Ha Noi .VIETNAM Tel: +84 4 825 2938
Ms Evelina Tabares . 2 Venus Corner . Chavez Street Macasandig . Cagayan de Oro . The Philippines . Tel: +63 88 22 724 324 . Fax: +63 88 22 722 308