Oct 15, 2012, 11:25 AM
The Special Needs Education Unit under the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE) recently organised a daylong forum with stakeholders in the Greater Banjul Area at Region 1 in Kanifing.
The advocacy and information dissemination forum was centred on Special Needs Education and Inclusive Policy Framework for All.
The framework seeks to map out an agenda for special inclusive education aimed at increasing opportunities for children with special needs to access quality education as well as improve the quality of life of persons with disabilities.
Ebrima Sisaho, deputy permanent secretary at the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE), said the gathering was timely and significant.
He said children with special needs are a heterogeneous group, which precipitated the need to come up with strategies that would meet their diverse needs.
The ministry is making efforts to make education accessible to all including children with special needs, Mr Sisaho said: “Special needs education as stated in the education policy is regarded as a ‘whole system approach’ that touches the whole nation in its drive to include all inhabitants in every aspect of responsible civic life.”
Speaking further, Sisaho revealed that more and more children with special needs are being included in the mainstream schools.
“However, they continue to encounter challenges due to the inappropriateness of the curriculum and inadequate specialised equipment and trained personnel,” he noted, saying the underlying principles of the policy framework are participation, non-discrimination, individuality and performance.
“When encouraged it will impact positively on holistic development of individuals with special needs,” he added.
He finally implored on all stakeholders to consciously take up the responsibility to ensure this vulnerable group is catered for and provided with the right support to improve their quality of life.
Speaking earlier, Amie Colley Mbye, director of Region 1, said the document is very important as it ensures that strategies are put in place to cater for individuals with special needs.
“Investment in special needs is investment in education for all,” she said, adding that individuals with special needs have a right and must be provided with opportunities to exercise these rights, including the right to access relevant and quality education.
Anna Nancy Mendy, a principal education officer, said special needs unit presents the policy framework and the key strategies for the policy implementation among others to create opportunities for access to educational services for all.
These framework and strategies, she said, include provision of specialised materials and support services, curriculum reform, enhancing the accessibility of services, teacher training, advocacy, and gender mainstreaming.