20 April 2016
Naw Par Eal is the headteacher of a branch middle school in Khaung Lan Kone Gyi village, Eain Mae Township in Ayeyarwady Region. All the people living in the village are of Kayin ethnicity.
She said: “11 out of 537 students are disabled in my school. We have only 17 teachers in school. Therefore, the student-to-teachers ratio is too high.”
“We accepted disabled students even before the intervention of the KMSS project. Even though we take disabled students, we cannot provide a disability-friendly environment because of the lack of budget. There are not enough classrooms for students. We only have a two-story building (120ft x 30ft).”
Before KMSS provided disability awareness training at the school, students used to make jokes about the disabled students. After the awareness session, they respect and help each other.
Naw Par Eal added: “At first, it seemed impossible to accept disabled students at school because teachers may be overburdened. And in reality, teachers do have a greater workload as a result of having disabled children in their classes.
“I have instructed teachers not to punish disabled students but to be patient with them. It is important for mentors to show goodwill and respect in order to teach disabled students. So far, there are no teachers who refuse to teach disabled students. They really are good teachers.”
She also explained some of the challenges: “One of the barriers we face is teacher turnover. It causes a loose connection in teaching. From our side, we cannot afford to provide special physical aid (intellectual disability) for disabled students. All we have is a good attitude to create a good learning environment for the students.”
In collaboration with Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Myanmar Education Consortium (MEC) is supporting financial aid to KMSS Pathein in order to implement Inclusive Education for Children with Disabilities project in (5) Township in Ayeyarwady Region. The project period is from June 2014 to May 2017. The project is targeted for disabled children, parents, students and teachers to receive quality basic education for all disabled students.