To support and cater to the needs of children living with disabilities in schools, a two-day orientation programme on the standards for inclusive education was held at Tshenkharla Central School in Trashiyangtse.

Described as a tool to support schools in the country to become more inclusive for all children, the standards for inclusive education, aims to provide guidance to schools on reflection, planning and actions towards creating an inclusive environment.

Deputy chief programme officer at the ECCD and inclusive and special education department with the education ministry, Pema Chhogyel, said that without a supportive strategy, children living with disabilities are often neglected and side-lined in a school set up.

He said that inclusive education comes in as a means to improve access and quality of education for all children with disabilities in the country. “Inclusive education is the process of valuing, accepting and supporting diversity in schools and it is also to ensure every child has an equal opportunity to learn.”

Pema Chhogyel said that in an inclusive education system, no segregation is encouraged among students based on their physical or mental disabilities.

“We want to foster an inclusive community where children with and without disabilities can learn, develop and grow together,” he said. “Segregating and establishing different institutes for children with disabilities would further limit the growth of those children.”

Similar orientation programme will be conducted in all 12 schools (Including Muenselling Institute in Khaling and Wangsel Institute in Paro) across the country that has initiated the special educational needs (SEN) programme.

Tshenkharla Central School is one of them. The school has 30 students with disabilities.

Vice principal with the school, Karchung said that since the school recently adopted the programme, lack of human resource and adequate infrastructures are its biggest challenges.

“Due to shortage of teachers, the existing faculties have to dedicate additional time for students requiring special attention,” he said. “We also lack infrastructures like ramp for those children who are physically challenged.”

However, Karchung said that since the severity of conditions of the children with disability is not serious at the moment, the school management is managing.

“All children including those with disabilities have the right to be educated. These children has to be valued and acknowledged and not be taken for granted because of their disabilities,” he said. “As a teacher, as a parent and as a community we have to make this possible. ”

According to the Two Stage Disability Study 2010-2011, more than one in five children between two and nine years old have at least a mild disability, which can have a life long impact.

Younten Tshedup |  Trashigang