Thursday, 24 Jun 2021
Improving Access to Education for Children with Disability Through CBM’s Advisory Work
CBM estimates that only 5% of the 413,000 children with disability under 15 years in PNG are attending school.
CBM’s Inclusion Advisory Group is tackling this issue on several fronts.
CBM‘s advice to UNICEF on how to make some of its early childhood development centres in PNG inclusive of children with disability has been hugely successful and had knock-on effects. In 2018 CBM supported UNICEF as they introduced pilot programs in two PNG provinces. The outcome of this work is now influencing national early childhood programs, which are looking at how to consistently include young children with a disability.
“Many older children in PNG have disabilities that could have been remedied or alleviated with early screening, intervention and treatment. Getting children into early childhood programs is a way to pick up on treatable health problems that, if left unaddressed, cause lifelong disability,” reflects CBM’s advisor, Karen Alexander.
And we know that children with disability who are part of an early childhood program are more likely to continue to secondary school.
Early childhood teachers are trained in how to support kids with disability in the classroom, and there are now linkages with disability service providers – for health and rehabilitation support. Due to the success of this training in early childhood centres, the Department of Education has had UNICEF expand their program to train primary teachers in inclusion and child-centred approaches in Milne Bay.
Successes in these two pilots in Milne Bay and Morobe provinces have influenced national early childhood policy. As a result, the PNG National Government is beginning to make commitments around inclusive early childhood development programs.
CBM has also provided technical advice to the PNG Government’s education policy review, which led to a shift in focus from “special education” to “inclusive education”.
By law, children with disability now have the right be included in mainstream schools. It will ensure better funding, action and support for children with disabilities.