Tibetan children with special needs often face problems when attending mainstream Tibetan schools. Whilst the majority of Tibetan school in India have an inclusion policy for children with special needs, the reality is they are all too often ill-equipped to deal with the children’s needs. Most schools lack specialised teaching materials (such as Braille text books), offer little or no specialised teacher training (for example, in sign language), and have no tailored syllabus. One of the biggest issues, unfortunately, is a lack of awareness and a somewhat negative attitude towards children with different learning needs.
The combination of these issues leads to very low enrolment and retention rates of children with special needs. If children are sent to school at all, they often drop out before completing secondary education. Sadly, most of the children do not end up leaving school with the necessary skills to live independent lives in the future.
Tibet Relief Fund is delighted to be supporting an innovative new project that aims to tackle this problem by making Tibetan schools in north India a more welcoming, inclusive and long-term prospect for Tibetan children with special needs.
Working with teachers and children at five Tibetan schools, the project will combat negative attitudes and raise awareness of the issues involved in special needs education. The programme is not just for staff and pupils, but whole communities, their children and their families. It will promote inclusive education and highlight its added value to the education system as a whole. By fighting stereotypes, it will show communities that having a disability does not mean people cannot have happy, independent lives.
Teachers at the five schools will undergo training in inclusive teaching methods and practices, mutual communication and how to help children develop cross-curricular skills. After their training, a peer-to-peer support group will be set up for teachers across the schools so they can share their experience and knowledge.
Additional support classes will be held regularly at each of the schools so children who need it can have extra time and personal attention to understand their lessons and work.
We believe this project will go a long way in helping combat some of the issues that prevent children with special needs from successfully completing their education as valued members of the school and we are pleased to have been able fund the project in full.