Toward inclusion of all children
In Tajikistan, thousands of children with disabilities are excluded from formal schooling, and left behind. Many simply remain or study at home, due to misconceptions regarding disability as well as schools and teachers being ill-equipped to offer a suitable learning environment for these children.
Schools don’t have the appropriate infrastructure or materials and teachers lack the training necessary to understand the needs of these children and adapt teaching methods.
However, the government has been taking important steps to provide inclusive learning. In 2017, 49 resource centers were established at schools around Tajikistan by the Ministry of Education and Science to support the education of children who have mental and physical disabilities.
Children with disabilities learn in mainstream classes and have access to the resource centers, where learning takes place mainly through play and there are games’ zones, libraries and visual materials. Parents are also active participants in the lessons carried out at these centers and children can take books home.
In 2021, in an effort to continue improving the school environment for children with disabilities, the education ministry asked the Alliance of Civil Society Organizations in Tajikistan for Education (ACTE) to evaluate these centers on accessibility and provide recommendations for improvements.
ACTE is a national education coalition promoting quality inclusive education and is supported by Education Out Loud—GPE’s fund for advocacy and accountability.
Despite the good intentions behind these centers, ACTE found that teachers in the centers had little to no knowledge of inclusive education and decided to take action.
With support from GPE’s Education Out Loud grant, the coalition organized three-day trainings for teachers and school directors working at the centers. The goal was to teach participants about inclusive education and how to work with children with disabilities to eventually enable more of them to join mainstream schools.
The trainings—which took place in August-September 2022—showed teachers and directors how to prepare an individualized teaching plan for children with disabilities, provided a template they can easily follow, and recommendations on how to build school infrastructure according to international standards of building.