NATION

Experts Talk Inclusive Education

Experts are meeting in Nadi to map out an eight-year strategic implementation plan for the policy on special and inclusive education. The three-day consultation workshop at the Tanoa International Hotel
02 May 2015 09:21
Experts Talk Inclusive Education
Education Minister Mahendra Reddy and AQEP team leader and senior education advisor Dr Priscilla Puamau discuss the contents of the toolkit Photo: Sheetal Prasad

Experts are meeting in Nadi to map out an eight-year strategic implementation plan for the policy on special and inclusive education.

The three-day consultation workshop at the Tanoa International Hotel in Nadi was opened on Wednesday by the Minister for Education, heritage and Arts, Mahendra Reddy.

Various institutes representing the education sector and the disability sector are attending the workshop.

While addressing the participants, Mr Reddy reiterated that Government “is absolutely committed to the core principle of ‘No one left behind’”.

The national disability survey in 2010 indicated that only 21 per cent of the people with disability had completed primary school, he said.

“The 2013 Constitution of the Republic of Fiji includes significant provisions for persons with disabilities.

 

These are:

n Including the right to reasonable access to all places, public transport and information, sign language, Braille and other means of communication.

n Reasonable access to necessary material, substances, devices relating to the person’s disability

n Reasonable adaptation of buildings, practices and procedures to enable them full participation in society and the effective realisation of their rights.

“The right to access quality education in local schools is supported by various Acts and captured in the Ministry of Education’s Policy on effective education of special and inclusive education, endorsed in 2011,” the Minister said.

A number of projects and initiatives that have gone forward in line with the policy objectives are:

n Five mainstream schools have been piloting inclusive education since 2013.

n Trainings were conducted for 345 primary school head teachers and 34 secondary school principals in 2014.

n Special schools have been supported through the Allied Health Team of Australian volunteers to strengthen classroom strategies for children with disabilities.

n An increasing number of regular schools are enrolling children with disabilities.

“Fiji has had a long history of commitment to the education of children with disabilities,” he said.

“The network of special schools has been a vital system, in which thousands of Fijian children have received education and have been supported and prepared for transitions either to mainstream schools or to vocational training and onwards to employment.

“There are a few notable schools who have been educating children with special educational needs in an inclusive way over many years.”

Mr Reddy agreed that some challenges need to be considered as Fiji progresses towards quality education for people with disabilities.

“In reviewing the current policy on effective implementation of special and inclusive education, a number of issues and challenges come to mind,” he said.

“I am fully aware of the seriousness and complexity of the deliberations you have been called here to undertake.”

Mr Reddy encourages all to put on their intellect and commitment in strategy and planning for great outcomes.

During this opening, the Minister also launched the toolkit for disability inclusive education in Fiji.

“I support the wide dissemination and use of this in all schools across Fiji to support and inclusion of children with disabilities in Fiji,” he concluded.

Feedback: sheetal.prasad@fijisun.com.fj

 



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