Why strengthening teachers and school leader’s capacity on inclusive education is important

According to Rwanda’s 2013/14-2017/18 Education Sector Strategic Plan (ESSP) emphasizes the need for a more innovative approach to inclusive education to improve enrolment, progression, transition and completion rates of the most vulnerable populations. Moreover, the new competency-based curriculum calls for the use of new learner and child-friendly centred approaches for effective teaching and learning, with inclusive education as a cross-cutting orientation.

However, teacher’s knowledge on inclusive education in Rwanda too many teachers and school administrators is still a myth to them and lack of the relevant basic knowledge and skills to implement it in the classroom the disabled children is critical.

With this overarching framework, the Ministry of Education (MINEDUC) last year has updated its policy, as well as developing a strategic plan and a teachers’ guide to inclusive and special needs education.

The Ministry initiative of Inclusive Education to sector priority targets to train teachers to become Master Trainers. They were provided withpractical skills—in particular activities and tools they can employ in their classrooms.

According to Nehemiah Bacumuwenda, the curriculum specialist in charge of pedagogical norms at Rwanda Education Board says the Ministry has trained Master Trainers cascaded to train other teachers in their respective schools to test the methodology, reaching out to a total of 708 teachers countrywide.

“We have provided a manual for teachers, including practical tools and classroom activities, which was also developed prior to training so that Master Trainers could test it in schools and generate useful feedback,” he adds.

Nehemiah says added that 30 District Directors of Education (DDE) were also trained with the objectives to train participants on inclusive education theory and methodology and build awareness of the new REB model and associated Toolkit of Practical Classroom Activities.

According to Dr. Michael Rwibasira, the Head of the Department of Examination and Accreditation, Ministry of Education, at a recent conference in Kigali says, the Curriculum Approach Model had the objective of consulting DDEs on a proposed roll-out plan for nation-wide scaling up, as well to inform them of the means to monitor and evaluate implementation.

After the training, DDEs we will acquire a practical understanding of how to implement inclusive education in schools and knowledge and tools to oversee implementation and evaluate progress. He added.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic Affairs and Research), Professor Nelson Ijumba, University of Rwanda  College of Business and Economics says, training is very necessary for primary and secondary classroom teachers and there is a need for school leaders to also gain further understanding and sensitivity on inclusive education in ensuring their schools attain inclusive model.

“Teachers need to teach inclusively, and if not that they can mentor these skills to teaching staff. UCE’s Diploma Programme in School Leadership and Management is supported by VVOB on a wide variety of knowledge and skills,” he says.

Evariste Karangwa, the Dean of the School of Inclusive and Special need of education, College of Education, Rukara Campus, for him supporting the inclusion of case studies and materials on inclusive education specifically for Strategic methods of teaching materials of the disabled and management of the School as an Organization Community and Parental Involvement.

He added that teachers are testing the materials and refine them before they are formally adopted and included into the Program’s curriculum to train head teachers enrolling in the University of Rwanda College of Education 2018 cohort.

Challenges

Karangwa says there are some challenges in the implementation of the inclusive education methodology where the schools still have little equipment’s to be used by the disabled children like resource centre rooms and that teachers need skills.

However, equipment’s is not only the challenges in the implementation of the policy but the need to have specialists that teach that help the teachers would be a lasting solution. He says specialists that would address those matters include sign language specialists, therapeutical assistants and speech therapists that would address the deaf students who can’t manage to speak.

Plan Boaz, a teacher at EFOTEC Kanombe secondary school, argued that the main is the parents who are not open to discuss the disability of the students. Some of them have eyesight problems to follow the teachers writing on the blackboard which is usually discovered after longtime of failures conducts by the students.

Ishimwe Eric Josue, a student at the University of Rwanda –Gikondo Campus- College of Business and Economics, says, for strengthening the capacity of teachers and the school could unsuccessful if there are no capacities in planning, managing and monitoring teacher education.

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