CAB Inclusive Education Project

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Republic of Liberia

 

 

  

 

 

Promoting the Right to Education

for Children with Disabilities

 

 

 

Policy on Inclusive Education

for the Blind, the Visually-Impaired, &

Other Special Needs Students in Liberia

 

 

 

 

 

An initiative of

 

 

Liberia Christian Association of the Blind (CAB)

&

Liberia National Association of the Blind (LNAB)

 

 

In collaboration with the

 

Ministry of Education

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monrovia, Liberia

 

August, 2013

 

 

Foreward 

A view point by: Beyan G. Kota.

(National President of CAB)

 

 

The aim of Inclusive Education is to support a process whereby schools become more accessible to blind and visually impaired children and responsive to their needs. Accessibility is not just simply about blind children attending schools in Liberia, it means they should also be given the opportunity to benefit from school and access the curriculum. At the same time, school environment must be flexible and supportive so that it responds to the needs of individual children rather than assuming that the blind child should adapt to the education provision available. Inclusive Education promotes improvement in the quality of education along with inclusionary accessibility, equitable and responsive learning environment, with the goal to benefit all children, but they are particularly crucial for blind and visually impaired children or children with other disabilities.

 

The objective of including blind children in the general education program takes into account the holistic view of the educational needs of blind children by examining the environment in which all children learn. The central message is that mainstream learning environment can include children who may have particular learning needs due to developmental delay or impairment. Inclusive Education must therefore be child-centered rather than curriculum-center learning approaches. Child centered objectives are based on the recognition that individual children learn and develop in different ways and at different rates and they seek to increase a learning environment which responds to the needs of each child including those who are blind or visually impaired.

 

 The priority needs of blind children are not just special but basic. Blind and visually impaired children need food, shelter, love and care, protection and education. It is important, for example, that children with vision impairments sit in position where they can listen and hear clearly the presentation of notes by the teacher and the teacher should also try to reduce or eliminate background noise so as to ensure effective listening. These measures will help all children's learning, as they are critical in enabling children with hearing difficulties to access the curriculum. 

 

There is no single agreed definition of the term disability.  However, the United Nations convention on the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities in article1 recognizes disability as an involving concept,   acknowledging the fact that society and opinions are not static. The convention, as a result, does not impose a rigid definition of disability, but rather assumes a dynamic approach does allow for adaptations over time and within different socio-economic settings. We believe that it is not just the individual's impairments that disables the person, but rather the way in which society responds to sensory intellectual and physical Impairments which result to a disabling effect and create discrimination to participate in public life and bring about barriers to education.

It is public's misconception of the blind and its negative perception of blindness that leads to mistreatment and an attitude of prejudice against the condition and not the functional limitation of the visually impaired.  Understanding disability this way has been defined as the social model of disability, and distinguishes from the charity or medical model which places the responsibility for change on society's attitudes and not on the individual who has impairment.

 Traditional myths and cultural practices go with the perception that blindness is contiguous and hold the notion that just looking directly in the eyes of a blind person or coming in closed contact with him or her can cause blindness to a closed neighbor. It is this wrong attitude that leads to the wrong treatment of the blind which eventually disables the individual.

 

Our concept of blindness therefore, is derived  from the  conviction that a  person is blind if he or she must devise a  number of alternative techniques to do efficiently those things which sighted people routinely do using vision. The emphasis on the term efficiency which visually impaired learners must work hard to acquire.

 

In 2005, the government of Liberia enacted into law the establishment of a National Commission on Disabilities which, among other things, mandated the provision for the creation of a Bureau Of Special Education within the Ministry of Education. The Ministry of Education In fulfillment of this law, acted in March of 2011 to sanction the launch of a two-year Inclusive Education Pilot Project in Liberia.