As part of WEEMA’s commitment to people with disabilities, January saw the launch of a new program. There are 39 primary schools found in Tembaro Woreda where children with disabilities could have access to quality education but currently do not. These children don’t attend school because of low community awareness and social stigma, absence of inclusive schools, lack of trained special needs education teachers, and limited access to necessary assistive devices.
Mudula Primary School has been chosen as the target school to implement inclusive education over two years. Teachers, principals, education office experts, parent and teacher associations, community groups, community leaders, and the government sector office are all involved in and committed to the project.
Highlights to date include public awareness raising events for the community members and the government leaders, as well as rigorous training for primary school teachers and staff. Sharing experiences and knowledge as the project progresses is also an important part of the process.
In the second part of the year, more of the visible changes will take place. We will level land around the schools and construct a ramp to create a more child-friendly environment at both the school and the resource center. Classrooms will be equipped with special furniture, a wheelchair and walking sticks, Montessori materials, an abacus, braille paper and books, and equipment to record the lessons will be provided.
When the school year starts in the fall, the teachers will be prepared and the classrooms and facilities will all be ready for the students with disabilities to start school. We will enroll as many as 50 new students to participate in the inclusive education program.
With an eye to the future, we are working closely with the district level officials in the Woreda education office responsible for inclusive education. Together we can replicate this important work and implement it at other schools in the Woreda.