A new beginning for 30 students with disabilities
Exciting news! Tembaro’s first inclusive education program is up and running at Mudula Primary School and more than 30 children with disabilities – a mix of boys and girls – are enrolled. All are attending school for the first time now that the teachers and the classrooms can support their learning.
The opening marks the culmination of an extraordinary effort involving community leaders, the local government, teachers, parents, and students – all with a shared vision of giving children with disabilities the same educational opportunities as other children. The Tembaro District has 39 primary schools, but until last month, none were accessible to children with disabilities.
The year-long effort included awareness-raising sessions with local stakeholders about the challenges that children with disabilities face and the wide-ranging benefits of giving them more opportunities – starting with a formal primary education. WEEMA also helped train staff to teach in sign language and support other special needs. The school was also outfitted with wheelchairs, entrance ramps, special furniture, and other resources to help students who are blind and deaf.
What a transformation we’ve seen! During a recent visit to the school, English teacher Aleme Wochato was using sign language to teach students the alphabet. A half-dozen students were enthusiastically waving their hands to show what they had learned. In another room, environmental science teacher Alemitu Aweno was using sign language to teach first graders about animals in Ethiopia.
Teachers were especially delighted with the big changes afoot. “Before this year, none of the schools had teachers trained in education methodologies for engaging children with disabilities,” Wochato said. “Now, with support from WEEMA, teachers are trained in the Braille alphabet, sign language, and other skills.
Judging from their smiles and eager participation in classes as you can see in the photo below, students are also excited about the school’s transformation.