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The commitment of IE was made by the governmental and institutional agreement of Salamanca in 1994. After a few years, EFA and the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education were also adopted as the global education agenda to be achieved by 2015. After fifteen years getting the agreement of Salamanca, the UNCRPD recognizes a right to education for people with disabilities. So the global commitment of IE has strengthened between Salamanca and the CRPD. By the Article 24 of the UN CRPD stated that all state parties shall enable persons with disabilities to learn life and social development skills to facilitate their full and equal participation in education and as members of the community. To this end, States Parties shall take appropriate measures, including:
Facilitating the learning of Braille, alternative script, augmentative and alternative modes, means and formats of communication and orientation and mobility skills, and facilitating peer support and mentoring;
Facilitating the learning of sign language and the promotion of the linguistic identity of the deaf community;
Ensuring that the education of persons, and in particular children, who are blind, deaf or deaf-blind, is delivered in the most appropriate languages and modes and means of communication for the individual, and in environments which maximize academic and social development.
In order to help ensure the realization of this right, States Parties shall take appropriate measures to employ teachers, including teachers with disabilities, who are qualified in sign language and/or Braille, and to train professionals and staff who work at all levels of education. Such training shall incorporate disability awareness and the use of appropriate augmentative and alternative modes, means and formats of communication, educational techniques and materials to support PWDs.
Also the right to an education without discrimination is stated in the UDHR (1948) and CRC (1989).Â The Convention on the Rights of the Child specifically declares the rights of CWDs to enjoy a full and decent life in conditions that promote self-reliance, and facilitate the child's active participation in the community. Moreover, Rule 6 of the UN's Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for PWDs (UN, 1993) provides for equal rights for children and adults with disabilities and for the provision of an integrated school setting.Â Â
Myanmar is undertaking the ASEAN Decade for PWDs, Bali Declaration on the Enhancement of the Role and Participation of the PWDs in ASEAN Community, BIWAKO Millennium Framework, and BIWAKO plus Five in close collaboration with regional countries.
Policy development on Education for people with disabilities in Myanmar
Myanmar Child law for especially for education
Myanmar Child Law was enacted in July 1993 in order to implement the rights of the child recognized in the CRC. The Article 20 of that Child Law stated that (a) every child shall have the opportunities of acquiring education and the right to acquire free basic education (primary level) at state schools. Also the Ministry of Education shall have an objective of implementing the system of free and compulsory primary education; lay down and carry out measures as may be necessary for regular attendance at schools and the reduction of untimely drop-out rates and make arrangements for literacy of children who are unable for various reasons to attend schools opened by the States to become literate. Article 22 stipulates that every child shall have the right of access to literature contributes to his or her all-round development and to acquire knowledge. According to Article 18, a mentally or physically disabled child (i) has the right to acquire basic education (primary level) or vocational education at the special schools established by the DSW or by a voluntary social worker or by a non-governmental organization and (ii) has the right to obtain special care and assistance from the State.
Myanmar basic education law
The basic education law was promulgated in 1973 and amended in 1989. The aim of the government's education policy is to create an education system that can generate a learning society capable of facing the challenges of the knowledge age (MOE, 2007). According to the Basic Education Law (1973), the main objective of basic education especially for children with disabilities is to enable every citizen of the Union of Myanmar to become a physical or mental worker well equipped with a basic education, good health and moral character.
The National Constitution of 1974 specified that every citizen shall have the right to education and shall be given basic education which the state prescribes by law as compulsory. By the principle of compulsory education, the only five years, from grade 1 to 5, covers free education for all children. Primary education is organized with two levels; kindergarten level from grade 1 to 3, and upper primarily for grades 4 and 5. Also, the new Constitution of 2008 fulfilled with the educational policy for every citizen; (a) has the right to education; (b) shall be given basic education which the Union prescribes by law as compulsory; and (c) have the right to conduct scientific research explore science, work with creativity and write to develop the arts and conduct research freely other branches of culture.
According to the education policy of 1989, MOE is organized with nine main departments such as Basic Education I, II, and III; Educational Planning and Training; Higher Education (Lower and Upper Myanmar); Myanmar Board of Examinations; Myanmar Education Research Bureau (MERB); and Myanmar Language Commission. The departments Basic Education I, II, and III are implementing the basic education policy. Special education is under the authority of DSW. In the decision making process at all levels of MOE, the decision making committee is set up by the Minister, two Deputy Ministers, Director General and Chairperson of the departments. The decisions of this committee are implemented by those responsible departments of all levels.
Based on the Dakar EFA Framework for Global Action and the Millennium Development Goals, Myanmar has formulated national EFA Goals as Myanmar's needs and context through a participatory process involving the UN organizations, various Ministries and I/LNGOs. The four concerned areas for achieving the goal of EFA in Myanmar are access to and quality of basic education, early childhood development, non-formal education, and education management and information system. To implement the goal of EFA, MOE uses six main strategies especially for developing and expanding Child Friendly Schools and making more accessible in basic education for all children with disabilities. Through the EFA National Action Plan (EFA-NAP), therefore, the Ministry of Education has established an inclusive education framework in accordance with international standards and goals that addresses EFA goals directly.
The latest curriculum for primary was revised since 1998 for having a more balanced rather than emphasizing only academic subjects. The school principals and teachers are the main task of monitoring and evaluating on the impact of curriculum for children's development. "Life skills" was made mandatory for inclusion at the primary level as a separate core curriculum in 1998 and at secondary level as a separate co-curriculum in 2001. Contents, teaching-learning methods and hours have been carefully specified for primary and secondary school curricula.
Inclusive education policy
In the past decade, there has been significant traditional progress to ensure CWDs who have access in mainstream schools. However, with culture and knowledge barriers from some school principals and teachers, the journey towards fully inclusive education has only just begun.
A clear understanding of the meaning of IE in the Myanmar context, it has a clear definition in all policy statements along with references to international normative instruments.Â In addition, the current implementation processes of IE are following the guidelines of the EFA framework.Â IE policy acts on both the national and local level.Â At the national level, the government is implementing with a new policy of inclusive education, while at the local level schools and the community are participating in the process of capacity building, and resource mobilization for those children with disabilities.Â The national policy on IE is grounded in international legislation and policy.Â
Implementation of IE policy in Myanmar
This research focuses on the primary and lower secondary level students with disabilities for the purpose to address the educational needs of CWDs in Myanmar. The political and social context is discussed in terms of international policy on reforms and initiatives, especially the Salamanca Statement that agreed to ensure a basic education for all children, including CWDs. The Salamanca Framework for Action (1994) was a significant milestone in the education for CWDs: The Statement defines and recommends the mode of service delivery of timing and intervention that linked to inclusive practices. National-level policy and laws as they relate to CWDs are briefly described in service delivery, and increase awareness about the educational opportunities for them.
Myanmar is now implementing 6 sectors for PWDs across the nation such as Enhancing Education Standard, Improving Vocational Trainings and Job Opportunities, Promoting Health Care Service, Enhancing Reintegration into the Society, Upgrading Capacity Building and Morale, and Providing Social Needs. Moreover, the government tries to make the concerted efforts harmoniously for the quality of life of PWDs at pleasant.
According to the guidance of the EFA-NAP, the following activities are being implemented:
Providing primary school textbooks worth over 1835.51 million kyats in free of charges for over 5 million primary students to initiate free, compulsory primary education;
Preparing the programs for scholarships and stipends which will be implemented starting from 2012-13AY in basic and higher education sectors; and
Enacting the private school registration law and developing rules and regulations in coordination with concerned departments to contribute the education services by the private sector.
For improving the quality of school education, monitoring and supervision mechanism has been strengthened since 2006-07 AY by focusing on the teaching and learning process. Basic education schools were classified by 5 levels (A, B, C, D, E) based on applying the following monitoring and supervision criteria-
(a) Accomplishment of the school principal;
(b) Level of school attendance;
(c) Implementation of monthly lesson plans;
(d) Students' achievements;
(e) Use of teaching aids, facilities & laboratories;
(f) Cultivating morale and ethics;
(g) Capacity of teaching staff;
(h) Adequate classrooms and furniture;
(i) School sanitation and tidiness;
(j) Adequate teaching aids and multimedia facilities;
(k) Greening of a school campus; and
(l) Good physical setting of schools.
Myanmar has been making progress in the education sector to fulfill MDG 2: "Achieve universal primary education" with the target of ensuring that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling: however the dropout rate still high in secondary school level. A total of 92 governments including Myanmar and 25 international organizations reaffirmed commitment to the goals of Education for All (EFA), recognizing the necessity and urgency of providing an education for children and youth with special needs within the regular education system. By the official data on net enrollment in primary schools was 84.6% in 2010 (MOE, 2010, EFA in Myanmar) and the gender discrimination has mostly been removed from basic education enrollment. However, the net enrollment rates in secondary and tertiary education are very low. The quality of education at all levels remains a serious concern.
At the present, MOE is making special arrangements for the disabled and other excluded children to attend formal schools and to continue their education receiving special care and attention. In Myanmar, IE programs were formulated to accommodate for all children regardless of their physical, intellectual, social, emotional, linguistic or other conditions. These programs include all vulnerable children such as CWDs; children form mobile families, orphans, street children, and other disadvantaged children. No.25 Basic Education Primary School (Yangon) is the best witness of MOE in implementing IE. A new multi-pronged strategy for the capacity building in Teacher Education can promote the progressive adoption of effective teaching and learning methodologies for all CWDs at all levels. MOE and other partners strengthen educational management for the Basic Education Sector Plan that supports the Government's education service delivery to meet commodities needs at the school level.
IE is a programme that creates opportunities for CWDs to pursue education together with non-disabled children in mainstreaming schools. It can bring about the educational opportunities for them. Nowadays, CWDs who have completed their primary education through special schools are now able to continue their education in mainstreaming schools by keeping abreast with other non-disabled children. IE According to the statistics data from MOE in 2011 showed that, there were 801 disable children in mainstreaming schools, 1450 children in special schools for the blind and the deaf, 30 disable students in universities and colleges and 6 disable students in master degree courses in 2010-11 AY.
The government policy was developed and practiced with policy reform to fill the gap in legal and policy development. As par hearing from the media, the advocacy for helping disabled issue more and more in Myanmar. The government policy and legal change occur on resetting criteria for definition of PWDs. Out of nine criteria (international norms), some implementation processes of IE use four criteria to define the PWDs. To be more specific about educational opportunities for CWDs, the government agrees to provide all children (including all regardless of physical condition) equal opportunity to learn basic education. In the actual situation, there has a gap between policy and practice.
The concept of IE means welcoming all children, without discrimination, in formal schools. Indeed, it is a focus on creating environments responsive to the differing developmental capacities, needs, and potentials of all children. Inclusion means a shift in services from simply trying to fit the child into 'normal settings'; it is a supplemental support for their disabilities on special needs and promoting the child's overall development in an optimal setting. It calls for respect of difference and diversity of individual characteristics and needs. This has to include a consideration of overall organization, curriculum and classroom practice, support for learning and staff development.
The government's and stakeholders'Â perceptions on inclusive education
IE is under the umbrella of EFA. Myanmar has an IE policy, which most of CWDs have an opportunity to join mainstream schools but obviously limited to those with mild disability because of the lack of capacity, skills and knowledge as well as infrastructure for the teachers and schools. The government ratified EFA goal at UN organization. It is over ambitious and hardly meet its goal due to poverty that causing low income for all poor families. It is more positive as regard to authority inclusive education in the future since the new government has practiced its openness policy and more transparent with people. IE policy in Myanmar strongly based up on last three years experiences not only for officers and teachers from MOE in Yangon Division but also other divisions and other stakeholders such as DSW, other I/LNGOs those who work in inclusive livelihood programs so that they can include disabled people in their development activities.
Understanding the concept and philosophy of IE is a vital need for the sustainability and success of the project. After implementing the awareness raising activities on this issue especially for CWDs and their parents, the effectiveness of understanding disability and inclusive education concept correctly and it is very encouraging. It is one of essential program in the country and will need to promote amongst other disability related organizations. IE policy for PWDs has been implemented by its own strategies. It was not seen as an active engagement in formal basic education. The goal is set based on its definition for PWDs. This means that IE policy, itself, needs to be redefined to reach its goal. So far, the current policy and goal work hand in hand. The effectiveness and quality of outcome is not up to the mark due to the government's poor budget allocation in the Education Sector.
The effectiveness of IE at this stage seems not only at the government schools, also next to the special schools such as blind school or deaf schools to take students from special schools to arrange exams etc. So there needs to have a wider understanding of IE, whereby every school needs to prepare to accept CWDs to provide the same opportunities like other children. And also need a dedicated education department on this. The strategies of inclusive development and mainstreaming everything for PWDs will be very costly and never finish. There has no objection but they need a lot of support. The only problem is prioritization.
The departmental structure for the dedicated handle affairs for CWDs needs either at mainstream schools or at special schools and needs to incorporate training components for teachers. This has not been done yet a lot. Participation by PWDs in the policy formulation and implementation processes, there needs to go a long way for the current Myanmar condition. The government's perspective IE for PWDs;
Myanmar has signed & ratified the UNCRPD on 7th December 2011
IE has been already in the discussion & pilot phase in collaboration with concern I/LNGOs
Inclusion is a new concept for Myanmar, where only 12% of I/LNGO are inclusive of PWDs, where inclusive is commonly mistaken with Automatic Beneficiary and part of beneficiaries rather than inclusion as a process.
For ensuring that significant progress is achieved so that all school-age children have access to and complete free and compulsory basic education of good quality, the completion of basic education by all CWDs is the basis form of achieving Universal Basic Education. Nonetheless, the provision of schooling and policies determining how education opportunities are distributed across priority target groups in Myanmar clearly will have far reaching effects on opportunities for productive work. The status and education level of women and girls can exert particularly strong inter-generational effects, and are thus crucial for reducing poverty. Following concerted efforts by the Government, I/LNGOs and communities, the primary school intake rate has increased sharply during the EFA period, although the dropout rate after finishing the primary level remains high. Quality assurance in basic education is especially important, because low quality can lead to low access if CWDs and their families do not see the impact of enrollment in low-quality schools.
Most of the I/LNGOs do not take part in the position of formulation and implementation process on basic education for CWDs, where mainly focus on the Rights of PWDs and promote equal rights and inclusion through involvement of Law Drafting and Social Policy development. As I/LNGOs, they can only include all children out of school in the process of giving second chance of learning basic education. In dealing with government line department, they have not yet involved in the formulation process.
Implementing processes of IE by I/LNGOs
TLMI is involving a little part in this area of IE implementation processes. They only conduct trainings for teachers on disability issues, the importance of CWDs to get the opportunity to attend schools like any other children and providing some barrier free arrangement in selected schools. TLMI is working with the parents of CWDs to convince to send the formal school and on the other hand they also try to engage with school principals to accept and pay attention for those children. Also they proposed the education need of PWDs in the Draft disabled law, advocate the decision makers and teacher, and we are working together with U Tin Nyo, retired DG from MOE who is very interested in IE for CWDs.
Eden initiated the project of IE implementing in formal schools and the plan for barrier free renovation such as walkways, seat toilet and one handrail that fixed in the toilet. In that project, 80 IE students were gathered at Eden Centre for CWDs. Also Eden celebrated the township level awareness meeting for introducing to the teachers for successfully implemented IE policy. It means that the principals and teachers from 21 schools are introducing IE awareness about IE at their schools. Therefore, IE process can only succeed through strong collaboration and cooperation amongst all shareholders especially from the government site and the donor site as well.
Eden is cooperating with DSW and MOE. According to their advice, they held workshops and trainings for awareness raising workshop with DSW and MOE and shared awareness about IE and disability issue to other I/LNGOs' staff, local authorities, other stakeholders and teachers from mainstream schools. EDEN organizes a series of mobile training courses throughout Myanmar aimed at helping improve the lives of disabled people which focus on activities such as CBR, IE and disability development. Through the help of DSW and Department of Basic Education No.(1), (2) and (3), awareness training not only about IE but also the Social Model of Disability was conducted in mainstream schools.
"PWDs in Yangon have more chances to access this information with help from NGOs and DSW, but those living in rural areas having difficulties due to inconvenient transportation and lack of mobility," U Hta Oke said. "I'm pleased about the growing number of people working in the field, but most of them are using a charity approach, which involves giving food, money, tools and other necessities," he said. "Not many are using a life-based approach, which means providing training so they can stand on their own feet."
Moreover, for the educational status of children with hearing/ seeing/ intellectual disabilities in Myanmar is inadequate and behind-the-times. There is only the DSW has one project on sign language especially for people with hearing disability. There is no standard educational practice. Teachers learn by copying the methods of older teachers. The Mary Chapman School in Yangon uses the philosophy "Total Communication" that is method has been a widely adopted language policy in deaf education from the 1970s. But this philosophy is out-dated. Graduation rates are very low. In Yangon Division, only 14 students with hearing disability have passed high school and only six have graduated from university until 2011-2012 academic years. According to the UN CRPD agreement emphasizes bi-lingual/bi-cultural education for people with hearing disability. Also, Braille e-mail and Internet have been developed and utilized in the training school for persons with visual impairments since 2006.
In general, the technical for education and training initiatives are not new to Myanmar. As a result of some recent educational developments and reforms, it is new to some teachers and learners both in curriculum and methods of delivery. One of the most important concerns in the Myanmar educational sector is how CWDs can be provided with opportunities to take responsibility for their learning throughout the concepts of community involvement and technical assistance to achieve a sustainable future.
Special schools which are supported IE for CWDs
Myanmar has a policy of IE, which means disabled students, including those who are blind, are allowed to attend classes in mainstream schools. Despite the policy, mainstream schools are not properly equipped to cater for students with disabilities which mean that most CWDs are forced to attend special schools. There are challenges to implementing the policy, since schools lack the required resources and facilities.
Myanmar Christian Fellowship of the Blind (MCFB) was founded on 4th August, 1975, to upgrade the basic level of education afforded to blind people in order to increase opportunities of leading independent in life styles. That foundation encourages beneficiaries in education specific to their needs including vocational training, as well as a focus on how to cope as a blind parent and job placements. The MCFB accepts children aged five and above and enrolls a similar method to the government mainstreaming schools. At that school, students can learn from grade 1 to 5 and then they can continue their secondary education in formal school. That school charges Kyats 15,000 a year for day students and Kyats 40,000-50,000 for boarding students, which covers accommodation, meals and tuition fees. However, there are over 700 blind and visually impaired students receive a formal or vocational education.
"The schools should be equipped with teaching materials in Braille, and teachers who know how to teach the blind by using Braille," said Mr. Thein Lwin, the general secretary of MCFB.
Also the principal of the Kyeemyintdaing School for the Blind said that the school accepts children from age six to 16, who are taught to the fourth standard. After they finished the primary education, they are sent to a formal school to continue their secondary education. The school and provides has both day students and boarders with free of charges for all fees of food and accommodation. The school can accept 200 students for one academic year.
Mary Chapman School for the Deaf accepts children from the ages of five to 18. At that school, children can learn regular curriculum that is taught in formal schools together with speech reading, finger spelling and sign language. Moreover, children at that school over 10-year of aged are taught reading, writing and arithmetic and vocational training such as tailoring, knitting, book binding, bag-making, cooking and massage. The school fee is Kyats 6,000 per month including meals for students.
The School for Disabled Children in Mayangone Township in Yangon is operated by the DSW. That school accepts both physically and mentally disabled children between the ages of six to 18 and teaches the standard curriculum up to the fourth standard. It has developed a special curriculum for children with a learning disability that take into account the extent of their disability and their capacity to learn. The current admission fee is Kyats 10,000 for one academic year.
Problems of accessibility to education faced by PWDs
The government runs the IE as the national level education development plan, however, there is a lack of educational assistive materials such as Braille books, Braille writing frames and syllabuses, qualitative/standard papers for writing in Braille, assistive devices for mathematical teaching or learning, and sign language interpreters. For these reasons and because of the lack of skilled teachers, the IE system's benefits have not been realized.
Learning through the restricted environment has also been one the most critical issues of educational opportunities for PWDs that needs to be addressed in order to create equality and equitable education in Myanmar. The current education system does not suit for PWDs in rural area, specifically in promoting the education standard of CWDs. In fact, there are several factors that influence over the education opportunity for CWDs. In addition, the researcher tries to explore what are those factors, challenges, and obstacles in pursuing education in the community. The following data are contributed by the PWDs and community representatives during the field research.
Towards the attainment of MDGs, many challenges still remain with regard to special focus which is required on hard-to-reach areas. A need of advocacy with more focus on duty bearer is a strategy to make sure of the long term commitment. The policy needs to be rewritten with a better understanding of authorities, duty bearers and duty holders. Moreover, the accessible services for PWDs in Myanmar is very little, only those who live in cities could access to those services and even then they need to get to such places where by need a lot of barriers to overcome to get there and money factor is another big barrier. In 2008, there are only 100 Physiotherapists appointed in hospitals under ministry of health.
According to the First Myanmar National Disability Survey 2010 showed that there were only 50% of PWDs in Myanmar never attended school, out of which 66.5% enrolled in primary schools, 22.2% in secondary schools. Some kind of problems concerned with CWDs. A large percentage of those who do attend mainstream schools soon drop-out because of unfriendly attitudes and environments in educational settings. They often encounter negative treatment from their peers who are not sensitized to disability issues. Most teachers and school principals are not familiar with the idea of including. In Myanmar, one of the Southeast Asia countries, most of the people are still discriminate and exclude the CWDs traditionally. They believe money can make CWDs to be happy. It's not right. In special schools, there have IE projects for all CWDs. It can only the way to make in those children's lives to be valuable.
While the enrollment rate increase almost 100% every year at school opening seasons, there is alarming about 40-50% dropping out before they completed in their primary education so one could imagine for students with disabilities. There is little help for schooling opportunities for students with disabilities with the current situation because of the low awareness about the disability issue, wrong traditional believes and practice, less accessible resources (Brielle, sign language, teaching aids, Buildings, etc.), Low prioritization and no special law and regulation to protect them. Among the four types of disabilities, accessibility for physical disability, blind and deaf disability may be about 3. For people with intellectual disability is 0.05.
The vast majority of CWDs never attended school and that a large percentage of the ones who do attend mainstream schools soon drop out due to inaccessible school infrastructure, lack of learning scopes, improper learning process and unfriendly school environment. But amongst the children that are not in any form of educational setups, a large majority shows a keen interest to acquire education. CWDs may have many of the problems that affect children at risk. The difficulties and problems are not because of their impairments but because of several barriers around their environments.
During this field research, the researcher notified that there is an absence of reliable and consistent data on the educational status of children according to their disabilities. This makes it difficult for educators, policy-makers and programmers to understand the nature of the problem, and identify possible solutions. Moreover, the current teaching methods are not addressing to the individual needs of students with disabilities by lacking training and experience of teachers in teaching and handling them. Currently, the education of CWDs is concerned by DSW. For this reason, it is difficult to mainstream the programme. Education for CWDs needs to be addressed by the MOE by collaborating with DSW and other stakeholder organizations.
The high cost of instructional materials of CWDs further curtailed their access to all inclusive education services. Some representatives from DPOs were also presented about the cross section of economic factors of CWDs' families to access education. To summarize the various agreements on poverty issue that is seriously hindering the CWDs from accessing education. Poverty is not only affected on the accessibility of basic education for CWDs but also for other children.
In other the school drop-out CWDs case, many of them are suffering from an unrecorded or undiagnosed disability. If the community aware more about the disability issue, they could try to improve education for those children, but right now the illiteracy rate of this population is so high and that caused an economic burden on countries. In the failure to include those CWDs, most of the community members are ignoring an important step in our attempt to eradicate poverty. Poverty and lack of knowledge on disability issues are the major problems accessing education for CWDs. Poverty would stand out on top as there are livelihood opportunities for parents who are poor and having CWDs in the family.
The researcher agrees with the respondents that because of the perceived added costs of health related problems, the problem is relatively deeper when the CWDs are involved. More than half of the population of PWDs lives in rural areas detached from the benefits of information and communication, transportation, and certain advanced technological facilities. Indeed the high cost of equipments, coupled with the rampant poverty predetermines the near or total absence of instructional materials. There does not seem to be a policy to ensure the massive distribution of these materials.
The lack of matching infrastructure necessary for the integration was identified as a key challenge to all inclusive education services. Most of the schools' infrastructures are not comfortable for children with physical and visual disabilities. There are many environmental barriers for wheelchair movement. In schools that are at least two stories high, there is no way to climb up the stair by children in wheelchairs or using crutches. Parents of physically disabled children have to be carried up stairs and the doors are also not large enough for wheelchairs to pass through. Lack of classroom adaptations hinders the movement of children with disabilities including the furniture of the classrooms and accessible toilets. These barriers are so difficult to access IE.
A key problem is the lack of clear policy guiding I/LNGOs' interventions on education for students with disabilities. Another barrier is the lack of reliable information and statistics which could back up planning and funding processes. All schools are under the Ministry of Education, but the development issues of CWDs are still under the DSW. Existing policies related to education and disabilities were found to be contradictory to each other. Appropriate policy formulation & adaptation is required to overcome the barriers.
Moreover, the budget for education is the basic need and awareness of duty bearers and duty holders need to be promoted along with its legal and policy development. It is somehow, inclusion is not a subject of Teacher's training college, training methods & tools are not available in Myanmar. Insufficient knowledge of inclusive teaching methodologies, lack of public awareness about the needs and opportunities of this target group and lack of funding to support inclusive education for CWDs are all preventing these children from receiving an education and being included in wider society.
It is found that to be depended upon the individual teacher's or school principals' interest to initiate and include in the mainstream education system. Most of the services are available only in Major City such as Yangon, Mandalay and Sagine where 27% of PWDs are aware of existing social services, while only a third of those ever contacted the agency.
Isolation and negative attitude by peers
According to the EFA strategy, all schools are found to be enforcing IE process regarding the CWDs but there are no insulting them, special support for them, no strenuous work for them. In some cases, some non-disabled children perceive some CWDs as contagious and fear that they will transmit from those disabilities. Some superstitious parents of non-disabled children want to prevent their children from making friends with CWDs. This is one factor that upsets one of CWDs.
Information and awareness sector
As to the awareness on NGOs who provide services for PWDs, 14.7% know of their presence but just over 1.7% of those who are aware of the services had ever contacted NGOs. Concerning special institutions, 20.2% of PWDs have knowledge about special institutions but only less than 1.7% of them ever had contact with them. Only 14.6% of PWDs know about the existence of organizations for and of PWDs whereas only 2.5% of them ever been involved with those organizations. Participation of PWDs in IE policy is not a big problem for physically disabled persons. The big problem is IE and vocational training for ID. Government, I/LNGOs and DPOs need to do a lot for it.
Unavailable trained teachers in adopting students with disabilities
The lack of enough trained teachers has predetermined that CWDs lack the specialized care they need. This could be explained by lack of awareness and disability related facilities like ramps, special toilet facilities, learning materials by the parents. Teachers can integrate the virtue of education levels, roles and responsibilities by being exposed the requirements of CWDs in the community. In almost all schools, the students with disabilities allow to sit in front of the classrooms. Nevertheless in some schools, there was no effort to support for CWDs in this regard. The researcher noticed that one student with hearing disability was sitting at the back of the classroom that worsen her learning skill. When the researcher asked her class teacher about it, she said that the child had not told her about it.
The traditional methods of teaching and learning, little scope for addressing diverse learning needs of students, lack of continuous assessment of individual learners, and a serious shortage of assistive devices and learning materials all act as major barriers to CWDs. There is no special curriculum for CWDs in mainstream schools but there are some special schools for CWDs, which unfortunately those schools are not located in and around the rural area.
If CWDs can able to access formal education in the mainstream schools, they can gain not only education, but also the opportunity for social inclusion with their non-disabled friends that are so important practice for their life-skills. Summarizing the interview with one student with intellectual disability from special school shared his feeling that he wanted to attend the school and he would like to live with his friends. If he stays at home, he feels so lonely and bored because he has nothing to do at home. He wants to do some activities with his peers. He thinks that staying home is meaningless for his life and he enjoys being with friends in school and this has become his life style.
Appropriate policies are required to overcome physical and attitudinal barriers. People involved in education are not adequately informed. In most cases, there are misconceptions regarding disability. Most of the primary school principals are not aware of ongoing education programmes for students with disabilities, and school management policy does not encourage inclusion for them. This is mainly because of a lack of conceptual clarity concerning about IE and its practice in grass-root level. One parent of CWDs remarked that,
'All students, including CWDs, are motivated and inspired to believe that physical limitations do not necessarily act as barriers for learning and acquiring knowledge and skills.'
One physically disabled student especially as cerebral-palsied shared his challenges;
"It takes me a lot of time to do something that seems so easy for other students. I am very slow at writing and my handwriting is very untidy" he says.
Generally, teachers show their understanding towards IE for CWDs by giving more time for these CWDs to finish their assignments and arranging the helper during the exam time. This however is not the very helpful way to assist for those seriously having impairment students because doesn't friendliness the student's disabilities and sometimes the helper doesn't understand what that student mention within a short time. So it caused a lot of difficulties for CWDs.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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 in their families and actively participate in their communities.
In Buddhism 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.
Recommends for the most appropriate education design of IE 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 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 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).
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. The remaining in the integrated education system alongside with mainstream schools,
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. One solution could solve all the problems, while mild disabled children could go to mainstream schools, there also a need of special schools to accommodate all types of children with disabilities.
With the strong commitment of the long term basic education development plan and EFA-NAP, MOE tries the best for all school aged children in school and ensuring opportunity to raise the quality of basic education through not only formal education but also non-formal education. The country's resources on education for PWDs should be strengthened and brought in line with the CRPD. Also, a good foundation for future growth of IE for all CWDs around the country should be put in place now. In-depth research on IE for CWDs is a key component to develop internal expertise and provide quality recommendations to the government and will lobby the government to pass the revised Universal Primary Education which provides the legal foundation for IE for CWDs.
Moreover, the major recommendation was the building of a special education program in all government schools that would offer special education classes mainstream in each school. All classes containing CWDs should have a reasonable ratio of teachers and students and teachers should be especially trained in disability awareness, especially those teachers who taught children with visual impairments, hearing impairments and intellectual disabilities. There needs to be usable space for the varied needs of instruction in the schools, the age of entry and leaving from the special classes should be flexible, and the schools should be equipped with appropriate teaching materials.