Pastor Glen Smith reflects on CBM’s inclusive education programs

Pastor Glen Smith from Grace Canberra church visited several of CBM’s inclusive education programs in North East India. Pastor Glen reflects on his experience in India and how he gained a deeper understanding of the importance of all children having access to an education.

“I had the wonderful experience of travelling to North East India with CBM Australia where we visited several of CBM’s inclusive education programs.

We visited integrated schools where students with and without disabilities were attending school together. The impact of this inclusion on the students was profound. I witnessed a special sense of connection, community and understanding at these schools.

I had never seen such levels of commitment in teachers. Teachers were studying on the weekends to become better teachers. A couple of teachers went through their local village, doorknocking every family who they knew that had a child with a disability. They told the families that they wanted to take their child with a disability to school. The mums and dads said it was not possible, due to the nature of the child’s disability. But the teachers said that they will learn how to support the child so that they can educate them. That kind of passion is unstoppable.

The students taught us some basic sign language. We learnt how to sign our own names. It was wonderful to connect with them. I treasure those times.

When I returned to Australia, I reflected on how the students I visited have so few resources in comparison to my children. It was powerful sharing these experiences with my children and seeing them understand what it is like for some children going to school in places where there is poverty, disadvantage, and marginalisation. These were real places where their dad had been and he met these kids. It opened their minds and opened their eyes. My daughter was so inspired she is now studying AUSLAN (Australian Sign Language).

My prayer for the schools I visited and the teachers and students there is a very practical prayer. It is a prayer for resourcing. They have a huge vision – miles beyond their current capacity to deliver on. They are throwing every bit of their heart at it.

My prayer is this; if you like, you can pray this prayer with me:

God, resource these projects. Meet those teachers as they step out to see your kingdom expanded. God would you meet every resource and grace that is needed to see the education of those kids come to its fullness and that they would have transformed lives by your resource to see everyone of those needs met in Jesus name, Amen.”