Learning to include – an example of inclusive education training from Lombok
Inclusive schools have formally existed in Lombok, Indonesia since 2008. However, most schools are only called inclusive because children with disabilities have access to attend classes there. The inclusive learning concepts and processes fundamental to inclusive education are not yet fully understood and implemented. Widespread access barriers for children with disabilities also still exist. Here, Handicap International explains how it has supported a practicebased approach to teacher education on inclusive education.
To improve understanding about the situation of children with disabilities in Lombok province, a sample assessment was implemented in one sub-district of Nusa Tenggara Barat (NTB). This identified 126 children with disabilities not accessing school. Lombok Island comprises 50 sub-districts, so the assessment indicated the potentially large number of children with disabilities out of school.
Building capacity for inclusive education
Effective inclusive education needs co-operation between all education stakeholders (children, head teacher, teachers, parents of children with disabilities, school committee, education department, disabled people’s organisations (DPOs), community members). To foster such co-operation, Handicap International’s project builds the capacity of teachers, head teachers and supervisors.
Bringing these different people together was a deliberate training strategy. Effective management in inclusive schools requires all stakeholders to share the same understanding of concepts, plans and methods. Teachers have the key role of ensuring that all children access and participate in learning based on their different needs. This requires accurate supervision from their head teacher, who plays a key role in school development. He/she must know about inclusive education concepts in order to build good communications between parents, the school committee and teachers. Involving district-level supervisors in the training is also important: they help ensure quality learning in schools, and need to give relevant recommendations to teachers and head teachers.
“[Following the training] head-teachers and teacher are now more aware and understand children’s diversity and their needs regarding school environment… they can provide adapted education services to children based on their needs and abilities.” (facilitator, Mataram city area, works in Provincial Education Department). “In my experience, school supervisors are rarely involved in inclusive education implementation, so we hardly know what the activities are in inclusive schools. In my opinion this program (inclusive schools) cannot walk alone. There must be a system to monitor, evaluate and supervise inclusive school development.” (Drs. H. Lalu Suparsil, School supervisor, UPTD Dikpora Kec. Jonggat, Lombok Tengah)
The capacity-building process developed four pools of facilitators, one for each district or city involved in the project. Each pool contained three people: one representative from the provincial education department, one special school teacher or head teacher, and one member of the forum of parents of children with disabilities.
A list of potential facilitators with relevant experience and knowledge was drawn up, and interviews assessed candidates’ commitment to the training process. Once selected, they attended a training-of-trainers to strengthen their skills and understanding regarding inclusive education. Each trainer then facilitated two fourday training sessions.
- concepts and practice of inclusive education
- international/national regulation on inclusive education
- positive discipline
- role of teacher as facilitator
- encouraging children
- making your class accessible
- efficient teaching strategies
- developing communication with parents of children with disabilities
- individual learning plans
- methods to foster child participation.
The training moved from general to more specific topics. Participatory methods enabled participants to share experiences, discuss and do simulations focused on exploring the strengths and weakness of implementation of inclusive education in their school. Participants realised that although their schools are labeled ‘inclusive’, there are still many possible improvements to make the environment and learning process more inclusive.
From theory to practice
To help participants practise what they learned, an action plan was developed for each school. The action plan was kept simple and realistic. It started by identifying things that needed improvement or adaptation in the school (e.g. accessibility, curriculum, tools), and then looked at how to address these.
Teachers and head teachers worked together to develop plans for actions to be implemented within two months. Participants then met again after two months to share experiences of implementing their action plans. This gave each school a chance to see other schools’ activities, and adjust their action plans (for instance to involve more stakeholders such as the school committee or parents). Starting a good communication between the school, school committee and parents provides an opportunity for the school to create a more comprehensive action plan.
Listening to stakeholders
During the training, people with disabilities and parents of children with disabilities were invited to share good and bad experiences they have faced in education. This helped participants to understand better the stakeholders’ perspectives and discuss how to improve education accordingly.
Training materials and methods
Facilitators used a training manual based on UNESCO’s ‘Embracing Diversity: Toolkit for Creating Inclusive Learning-Friendly Environments’ (ILFE), in particular the Specialized Booklet 3, ‘Teaching Children with Disabilities in Inclusive Settings’. The ILFE toolkit uses rights-based and learner-centered approaches. Trainers highlighted that teachers need to use these sorts of approaches in their classrooms. To meet various training participants’ needs, different methodologies were used (group work, role plays, photo activities, discussions, etc).
“By using microteaching and role play, teachers could experience how to work with children with disabilities in the classroom. … Participants developed their understanding about child-centered approach…” (Winarno, S,Pd, special school teacher and training facilitator, Mataram area)
“Head teachers and teachers were enthusiastic when I used participatory methods. …working groups and discussions are not common methods in teacher trainings.” (facilitator, Mataram city area, works in Provincial Education Department).
Training teachers, head teachers and supervisors helps develop better understanding about inclusive education and is the groundwork for school action plans, strengthening parental participation and supporting the development of evaluation, monitoring, and supervision for inclusive schools. But, as highlighted by Abas, S.Pd, (special school head teacher and training facilitator, Lombok Barat district), sustainable changes among education stakeholders requires not just capacity building but also the organisation of services in the school and community that can support these stakeholders in their work with children with disabilities.
Handicap international has worked since January 2011, with the Education Department of NTB province, in 36 inclusive schools in three districts and one city of Lombok island
Team of Inclusive Education Project
Perumahan Bumi Selaparang
Jl. Berlian Raya 3
Lombok, NTB, Indonesia