On 1st March 2013, 20 school directors, trainers, and teachers from Mae Ra Moe, Mae La Oo, Mae La, Umpiem, Nu Poe, Bang Dong Yang, and Suphung in Mae La Camp completed a three week special education Training of the Trainer (TOT) program. Topics included play session planning, classroom management, art, lesson planning, and much more. This was the first time all seven camps came together for TOT. All of the 20 participants are very excited to bring their new knowledge back to their communities.
KWO is always seeking to raise the awareness of parents and the community on issues surrounding disability and children. We have published a number of booklets covering the causes of disability, possible prevention some of the causes of disability (e.g. adequate nutrition), and how to support a person with disabilities
KWO runs community education workshops to raise awareness about disabilities once a month in every camp. Each session runs for half a day, and was facilitated by the Special Education trainers, the school director, or guest trainers from other organisations in the camp. The sessions cover issues such as child rights, supporting children with disabilities, inclusive education, nutrition and hygiene. They are attended by parents of disabled children, neighbours, carers, other parents, mainstream school teachers and community leaders. A total of 1,875 participants took part in 2009, and 2,938 in 2010.
“In the community and among parents many believe that having a child with a disability is caused by past sins of the parents, or misbehaviour in a past life, and it is a punishment. So the families are looked down on. And they themselves feel inferior. Now they learn that disability is caused by illness or malnutrition and not from parents’ behaviour. Parents feel better, and the community members understand their mistaken belief.” (Special Education Committee Member)
The Special Education Project has 4 main components – Early Intervention with young children with disability (home visits and learning centre), Inclusive Education (up to Standard 2 in mainstream schools, SE centres and home visits), School for students with hearing impairments School for students with visual impairments.
All of the children in the SE project are provided with a packet of milk twice a week to improve nutrition, and the Deaf and Blind students each receive daily supplementary food during school hours. KWO also distribute quarterly hygiene packs to children with disabilities. Two play sessions are run at each SE Centre each week for groups of children in the Early Intervention program and their parents. Depending on how big the SE group is in the camp, each child attended once or twice a week.
Inclusion of students into mainstream schools: One of the aims of the SE project was to reintegrate students from the SE program into mainstream school, where this was possible. In seven camps KWO organised six workshops in 2009 and eight workshops in 2010, with community members, teachers, school principals and representatives of other NGOs and CBOs, to build an understanding of how to support children with learning difficulties without sending them to separate SE classes.
Teacher training & staff development: SE teachers in each camp are provided with regular training provided by camp-based trainers, guest trainers or town-based project staff. Most training sessions last at least 2 days. Training topics included the types and causes of disability, how to prevent disability, autism, Down syndrome, how to help children with disabilities learn and writing lesson plans. As well as this, KWO SE Trainers provided sessions of training for other community trainers that examine child behaviour and inclusive education.
Karen Deaf Sign Language standardisation: In 2009, KWO began more intensive work to record the Karen sign language, so that a standard language can be learnt, and deaf Karen people can all learn the same signs and develop and share new signs. In 2009, with the assistance of a trainer from World Education, KWO created 5 volumes of Karen Deaf Sign Language DVDs which are used in all the camps.