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History Of The Effect Of The Policy Environment Education Essay

4.1 Introduction

This chapter presents the findings of the study arranged according to the focus group discussions. As already detailed in section 1.4; research methodology, data was obtained from CWDs and their parents and caregivers, teachers and schools’ principals from formal and special schools and some key respondents of the disability related organizations in Yangon Division. These included some representatives from the Department of Social Welfare, Department of Basic Education and Department of Myanmar Education Research Bureau (DMERB) and some respondents of NGOs and DPOs of disability and child education advocators. The study covered four formal schools and four special schools in targeted areas.

The discussion in this chapter summarizes the policy including its implementation, its opportunities and its limitation. It also addresses the benefits of the policy and the factors that have influenced policy implementation (i.e. Institutional, Environmental, community prejudices and support). The chapter closes with a discussion of the level of participation of PWDs.

4.2 Focus group discussion

From the data of qualitative reports, a profile of disability in Myanmar from the parents’ point of view was compiled. Obviously, most families who have CWDs are facing at risk in economic, social and educational dimensions. Not only did they have to worry about how to care for their children for their long-life, but they also had to protect the child from hostile attitudes of the society, from almost all educational systems by social rejection, and by the lack of knowledge about the disability issue. The research method of focus group discussion gives the chance of educational interventions for CWDs.

Some of the parents mention their children’s education in passing. A mother of a child with disability is supportive and concerned about her son. He is now 10 years old. He became physically disabled after he was ill with a high fever. He went to school up to grade five. He is quite skilled in repairing electronic equipment. She wants to help him with this vocational skill. She is planning to buy him a wheelchair to aid his mobility. She expected that

“Seeing him in a regular school is the best that could happen for him and us as parents, he is now attending secondary school. Teachers and fellow students are sensitive to inclusion.”

Her last comments indicated that he does not feel included in his own community. His family members do not neglect him at all, but he does not like to go out of the house.

Some parents experience considerable isolation and feel unable to take their children with intellectual disability out of the house. A father of the mentally retarded child indicated his commend about educational opportunities. He wants to take him out or allow him to take part in social activities because some experience of school has not been a positive attitude. He wants his disabled child going to school because the child can learn to read and write, play and have fun and like to be with non-disabled children to have access to appropriate education. Also all teachers need to be adequately trained to meet the diverse needs of all the children in their classrooms. He expected that transport to be made available, as the difficulty of getting to and from school remains a major barrier to education. He expressed his son’s condition that

“My son went to a special school, then regular school, and now is going to a special school but working on one to one at home. He is having a lot of behavioral problems due especially to the negative attitudes he is facing from teachers and the other students. But there was no problem in the special school but in the primary formal school was not accepted because of the teachers. They discriminate and did not pay attention to him.”

One parent of a deaf child shared her experience about the enrollment in the formal schools in rural area. The teachers were welcomed her until she mentioned that her child was deaf. But the school principal chases her away because there had no teacher who can use sign language and also the child and her parents did not know about it. So she went to the local authority and told him that the school was refusing to accept children with disabilities. Deaf and blind learners faced virtually total exclusion. There had no facilities, such as Braille or independence training, for students with visual disabilities, and no sign language interpreter for deaf students.

Above all, overprotection from their families and community attitudes are a problem for PWDs. Mostly in rural areas, community members are still considering PWDs as the helpless persons and they are often believed that PWDs have no capacity to develop themselves in terms of physical, intellectual and spiritual capacities. In addition, most parents believe that the best way to treat their children with disabilities is to give protective towards them and keep them at home. In this way, they attempt to provide whatever the best services they can for the children on their own.

4.3 The Effect of the Policy Environment

From the study of in-deep interview and focus group discussion, respondents were also presented with an array of laws and bills of rights and indicated their opinion. They were knowledgeable about the promotion of accessibility for education CWDs. By the laws and regulations that were presented including the current constitution of 2008, the government’s EFA-NAP and the Myanmar Child law 1993, the general trend of responses were the majority of teachers and key respondents. This research found out that they were aware that all the above instruments promoted all inclusive education for CWDs the majority of parents/caregivers were not aware. Exceptions to this trend were only observed in the analysis of responses to the UNCRPD and CRC. Due to the fact of these two documents though Myanmar has generally neither been customized to the current context nor been popularized to the masses. This indicated that there were generally lacking in the knowledge of existing laws, policies on CWDs in Myanmar.

Furthermore, the researcher found out that the knowledge levels of the policy environment to be low at the grass-root level since there is no regular interface but not so much at the teacher level and certainly not at the key respondent level as these are guided by such policies in the implementation activities of IE and have to some degree participated in the formulation of laws, policies either directly or indirectly. However, some of the responses were absolutely irrelevant by the mention of the key respondents about the EFA-NAP. Therefore, the researcher can conclude with some degree of authority that there is a general lack of knowledge on the existing legal and international human rights framework. This is probably a result of limited participation of all stakeholders in policy formulation, and a weakness on the part of government to disseminate as well as raise awareness of the existing laws.

Moreover, according to initial disability survey findings about awareness of social services for PWDs, only 27% of PWDs who are aware of existing social services, only 24.1% of them have knowledge about the existence of government social welfare services and only a third of those who know about the service ever contacted the government agency. In terms of awareness of I/LNGOs who provide services for PWDs, 14.7% know of their presence but just over 1.7% of those who knows really contacted the I/LNG0s. Only one in five 20.2% of the PWDs have knowledge about special institutions, and the less than 1.7% of them ever had contact with those special institutions.

4.4 Opportunities for PWDs in Myanmar

Myanmar attaches importance to the rehabilitation of PWDs and has been carrying out CBR work widely highlighting the disabled persons to ensure their equal rights and active participation in the society. DSW has called for the development of the CBR by realizing that disability issue is concerned with the entire society with the concept of social development and building of barrier-free facilities for PWDs to actively take part in the nation-building tasks.

Currently CWDs are only supported by social rehabilitation centers and not by child and family support centers in some regions.

Child welfare reforms still not systemic in reaching CWDs

Ensuring that social support is integrated with other services and not parallel

Recognizing that IE cannot work without adequate support for parents in the home, adequate transport, accessible leisure activities and vice versa

Access to contemporary technical aids for enablement

Ongoing need to change attitudes among professionals and wider society.

This requires meeting the complex needs of the child and his/her parents and siblings will describe different strategies for enhancing social inclusion of CWDs. Recognizing that CWDs require a multi-disciplinary response to effectively remain with their families and actively participate in their communities.

In most developing countries, people with intellectual and other disabilities could be fully included in the universal by showing the twin-track approach such as regular education for CWDs, and separate ‘special’ education for children with intellectual and other disabilities. This two-track approach is also taken in lower-income and developing countries, like Myanmar. In Myanmar, the vast majority of CWDs are outside of school all together, as well, special education as a social welfare issue, not part of the MOE. In most developing countries, governments and I/LNGOs have mostly for delivering special education in separate schools as a charity approach.

The first track is IE that is investing in education reform to improve supply, access and quality, but usually leave out CWDs. The other track is establishing special schools. Special schools have been incorporated into the public system in developing countries. It is on a very small scale through a special education system separately. The Myanmar government prioritizes children out of school strategies to reach CWDs are not embedded in larger school reform efforts without corresponding transformations of education systems. In the second track, there has been some transitioning from special schools to IE. However, the Myanmar education system for CWDs still remains confined to the second track investment strategy.

There don’t actually have a lot of benefits transformation of the first track. One argument for a two-track approach is that it is not possible to meet the needs of all CWDs in current education system. In fact, trying to include CWDs in regular classrooms is less costly than maintaining a separate system. IE for CWDs is a much more cost-effective approach, in terms of short term financing costs for separated facilities, administration, teacher training, etc., to get long-term outcomes.

This study found that Myanmar had not implemented rights-based plans that adequately identified numbers of students with disabilities according to their educational needs and provided strategies for ensuring accessibility of school buildings, teacher training, financial supports, and effective monitoring strategies. Also most parents of CWDs do not have the opportunity to access parenting information and educational supports that are related to their children’s disabilities. CWDs are often placed in unsafe environments when their parents are at work and they are denied the opportunity to play and socialize with their peers. CWDs are denied the opportunity to receive support for ‘school readiness’ and preparation for primary school. One parent of students with disabilities said that

“Teachers love my son but there is very little inclusion in regular activities; very little peer-to-peer interaction.”

There continues to be a wide gap between policies and legislation and the reality of how students with intellectual disabilities are served in their communities, schools and classrooms.

The dream of every parent is to ensure that their child becomes independent, realizes his/her full and best potential and is a useful and contributing human being.

The dreams of a parent with a child with special needs are quite similar. However, since CWDs are often excluded from the mainstream community, the struggle has been to see them included and functioning in the mainstream community and to be accepted and treated with the dignity they deserve as fellow human beings. Having said that, inclusion/integration just does not seem to be happening in our country except in small pockets here and there. Even this has been achieved mainly due to the openness and courage of a few individuals rather than that of the system

“The teacher took him out of class because he wasn’t learning, another teacher didn’t like the way he looked at him. That child was insistent and said that ‘I want to go to school’.”

It’s easy to get the impression that some teachers / schools do not respect the rights of disabled people. A number of teachers held negative or ignorant views about disability which caused them to actively exclude him or fail to seriously address his learning needs.

One of the leader from DPOs’, Mr. Nay Lin Soe, also a leader of community-based rehabilitation (CBR) programs of Association for Aid & Relief-Japan and Eden Center for Disabled Children, said that the current Inclusive Education policy and its’ functions are still far to reach the national educational goal. Mainly, these CBR programs supported poor CWDs to go to mainstream schools, advocated parents and educational teachers for disability inclusive education and renovated the schools to be accessible for students with disabilities in collaboration with the Department of basic education, Department of social welfare, local PWDs’ Self-help Organizations and other relevant stakeholders. In his opinion, all GOs, I/LNGOs, DPOs and PWDs need to continue the IE journey next 90% to achieve the goal for the entire nation. The program implements IE policy for PWDs by following kinds of strategies;

Awareness raising and advocacy for disability inclusive education policy

Capacity building of educational officers and staffs, and parents as well

Support CWDs for their schooling

Change the schools as accessible friendly places for students with disabilities

Strengthen the collaboration among government and non-government sectors of relevant stakeholders to ensure the educational right of disabled children

To sum up, the concept of inclusive schooling for all CWDs requires within the confines of the school principals in formal schools as far as possible by addressing the issues of equity and quality simultaneously. That concept initiated with the special needs of education for CWDs that goes beyond special school, particularly in developing countries. It takes into its fold of risk for CWDs. Accessibility is not just only a physical availability of space in schools also services of teachers and their friends. Many schools, including special schools, are following that IE policy by giving admission to these children but, there absence of a vision and orientation such as isolation and segregation of separated units or even though in the same class they do not feel included. Also the other the disability related service in Myanmar in terms of health and community support are not accessible for PWDs yet as most of service providers and community leaders are not aware disability as human right-based issue and cross-cutting development issue.

4.4.1 Religious influence

The new testament of Jesus 42 performed multitudes of healing on the crippled for instance that was an indicator to the Christian Community that all the people whether normal or disabled were still a reflection of God's image thus should be treated the same. In the Islam religion, disability is the God’s plan to prevent that person form doing something wrong. That quoted that disability is a labeled of thread as the uncleanliness and inherited sin.

However, in the Buddhism way of thoughts, disability is not equivalent to suffering; the human condition, existence of all sentient being for that matter, is considered suffering. No-one escapes from suffering regardless of status or ability, "over a series of lives reaching from the beginningless past until now there is not a single form of suffering that we have not experienced in Samsara" (Pabongka Rinpoche, 1990, p. 5). It means that all the people whether normal or disabled should be treated the same as the value of spirituality in everyone's life.

4.5 The other appropriate education designs for CWDs

IE implies that education is about learning to live and learn together with each other. Regular schools with inclusive orientation are the most effective means of providing materials aids and appliances to facilitate teaching and learning for CWDs. In order of analyzing priority to increase enrollment and completion rate of CWDs in basic education level, the Government should construct special schools/resource centers/rooms for CWDs and provide instructional materials like hearing aids, spectacles, elevated shoes, crutches, wheelchairs etc... Moreover, the government should train more skillful teachers, and give them some special motivation.

Children with mild physical disability accessed to mainstream primary education where it is significant for a person with intellectual/mental/ vision/hearing disability have a little or no access at all to the mainstream education. Special schools are available in Major City both private & public where the majority of the population resides in rural areas, on the other side availability of special schools cannot accommodate all the PWDs who required the services. A single mode of delivery of basic education is not adequate. One leader of DPO prefers integrated methods (formal institution based, home based and community based settings).

There seems to be a bit of improvement on formal and non-formal education included in CBR programs, especially for children with intellectual/mental/ hearing disability where they become literate. One solution could solve all the problems, while mildly disabled children could go to mainstream schools, there also a need for special schools to accommodate all types of children with disabilities.

The positive attitude in community and a sense of belonging and connectedness in schools are very important for promoting educational status of CWDs. From the group discussion, the researcher recognized that social and emotional impact on learning for students with disabilities give self awareness and developing the ability by promoting care and handling situational challenges effectively. Moreover, parenting support on education is achieved through developing good relationships between parents and teachers for providing information and promoting the supportive networks.

Moreover, special education is designed to meet the unique needs of children which result from having a disability, so that they may learn the information and skills that other children are learning. But there have a lot of challenges to deal with CWDs because there is a lack of information channels and media portals in most rural areas. The study found that the networking and cooperation between stakeholders including I/LNGOs, GOs and DPOs in Myanmar is still weak. Additionally, the government does not offer any guidance or encouragement for the growth of networking space for stakeholders to collectively support disability issue. It is also vital that CWDs are able to access information, education and services just like any other children. There needs to be increased development of communication methods such as sign language-supported media and television programmes. It must be remembered the great influence media has on people in society. It can advertise, promote public awareness and provide methods to share essential information and different perspectives, making it an ideal inclusion tool.

Only a few institutions are available for people with hearing and visual impairments, and physical and intellectual disabilities, and cannot provide trainings of skills and knowledge sharing for CWDS to meet the needs of their capacities by means of educational integrating. As a result, parents of CWDs have a lot of difficulties to access information, services and home-based intervention programs, which contributes towards a lack of awareness about how to assist and deal with disability-related challenges in their families and in society.

Individualized education is a valuable design of intervention as it provides protection and empowerment to CWDs and their families in society. In order to increase enrollment and completion rate for CWDs in both formal and special schools, the concept of inclusive education means welcoming all children without discrimination. However, the CWDs who participate in Individualized education programs need to take alternate assessments. That can be measurable the child's progress toward reaching his/her learning progresses. That design specifies the amount of time a child who participates in regular education programs and explains the rationale for that services focus on instruction and support services. These services need to help the child flexible with the school environment. School accommodations for students with disabilities or special needs refer to strategies that will help the student become successful in their community. For instance, educational rehabilitation of disabled children, such as blind, deaf and intellectually disabled children, primary level education is given with individualized educational design as special program for over-aged children. And then they need to support for continuing their secondary level education under the EFA system in formal schools.

The individual education program for CWDs, the student's anticipated a description of the services needed for the disabled children to reach their education goals. It depends on the CWDs’ learning skills and performance levels that are important for them to learn to progress to the next level. Indeed, it is a focus on creating environments responsive to the differing developmental capacities, needs, and potentials of CWDs that tries to fit them into normal settings. It is a supplemental support for their disabilities on special needs and promoting the CWDs’ overall development in an optimal setting. It is hypothetically known to be more efficient if the mainstream education system could accommodate the person with visual/ hearing/ mild physical disabilities as an inclusive education. Where the remaining in the integrated education system alongside with mainstream, there seems to be a bit of improvement on non-formal and informal education included in CBR programmes, especially for children with intellectual/mental/hearing disability where they become literate.

However, inclusive education is an ideal model to provide the consideration of overall inclusion in classroom practice, support for learning and staff development. Inclusive education implies that education is about learning to live and learn together with each other. Regular schools with inclusive orientation are the most effective means of combating discriminatory attitudes, creating welcoming communities, building an inclusive society and achieving education for all.

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