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This chapter will investigate an overview of the research findings on inclusive education policy of PWDs in Yangon, Myanmar. The main finding of this research is through the individual interview, allowing the respondents to give their opinions and general impact of the government IE policy implementation for PWDs that is not supported by necessary conditions. There are a lot of problems in both what made inclusive educational success for students with disabilities to learn also made for high quality education for all and the enforcement of the policy. From the above conceptual framework, several factors are at play to the persisting challenges of accessing all inclusive education. They were tackled from independent variables namely; socio-cultural factors like the attitude of the parents of CWDs, religion, parental interest and attitudes and the policy environment all can be explained as causal factors for the inadequate CWDs access to educational services. The Myanmar government does not have any local regulations regarding the educational status of PWDs. Moreover, the implementation of the policy still has limited opportunities for CWDs and made many difficulties in the actualization of policy. Also, the several challenges to access inclusive education are socio-cultural attitude, religion, and the policy environment that can be explained as causal factors for the inadequate CWDs access to educational services.
This chapter examines what is the concept of inclusive education and its policy framework and implementation in Myanmar, what are the government's and stakeholders'Â perceptions of inclusive education, and what are the problems of accessibility to education faced by CWDs in Yangon Division. Basically, the findings of the field research have shown that the objective of inclusive education is to support education for all, with special emphasis on removing barriers to participation and learning for CWDs but the implementation of the inclusive education policy for people with disabilities has shown little progress thus far. The basic education law was promulgated in 1973 and amended in 1989 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. Furthermore, the study also found that Myanmar has formulated national EFA Goals as Myanmar's needs and context through a participatory process as EFA National Action Plan (EFA-NAP) since 2003 addressing the needs of learners who are vulnerable to marginalization and exclusion through responsive educational opportunities.
Moreover, this research highlighted that the problem faced by students with disabilities is accessibility to facilities in mainstream schools. Accessibility in mainstream schools still limits the mobility and integration for CWDs and remains the most critical limiting factor on education sector. Furthermore, by the lack of educational assistive materials, the negative attitudes of the community and social stigma reduced the confidence of PWDs. Besides, the role of participation of PWDs in the policy formulation and implementation processes has not fully participated. However, Myanmar ratified the CRPD on 7th December, 2011 and some disabled people organizations (DPOs) have initiated advocacy programs to campaign for the rights of people with disabilities including the rights-based approach to education programming and core human rights obligations in education, and their role in strengthening IE activities.
The overall purpose of investigating the implementation of inclusive education policy for CWDs is to find out whether the government policy is accommodating CWDs in educational reforming system attempts go hand in hand with the principles of IE that promotes, protects and fosters a human rights process. As a result, the research will be able to find out what are the benefits of the inclusive education policy for CWDs in Yangon.
Policy development for people with disabilities
Due to the stigmatization, neglecting, and misunderstanding on PWDs, they are left out from our society and their rights are also denied. In Myanmar, some of the PWDs might face a lot of discrimination or/and exclusion, but the degree and severity often depend on the nature of their impairment on their daily living, within their families and communities. Children and women with disabilities are particularly vulnerable. During the colonial period, the impact of British law has, so far, been limited to the general influence of rule of law during that time. The British regulations of Article 38 stipulated on health status that it adopts the dysfunction paradigm of the medical nature as follows:
"The State should promote the advancement of public health by coordinating and supervising health services, hospitals, dispensaries, sanatoria, nursing and convalescent homes and other health institutions".
This article focuses on the individual and emphasizes the medical treatment for the impairment as the primary cause of exclusion or isolation. Medical rehabilitation was seen as the most effective response for PWDs at that time. Their specialized services and institutions and often rely on expensive tools and equipment. At that time, disabled people did not have a significant protective. However, "Article 40" of colonial regulations pointed out the social supports for some PWDs as
"The attention of the physical education especially in increasing the capacity for disabled ex-servicemen and retired from the military service with a decent job and free vocational trainings for their lives".
It can be clearly seen that the colonial rulers' rehabilitation programmes of welfare and services for disabled people were mostly focused on military service aside from the laws and regulations concerning for all PWDs. In addition, that regulation has concentrated on more health care services than education and employment opportunities for PWDs.
After getting independence on the 4th January 1948, the central government set up the "Ministry of Social Welfare" in 1953 with the aims for helping towards individuals and their social environment. This objective tends to get through the practical techniques. These are designed to allow individual needs and solve their problems by changing patterns of economic and social development conditions of society. More social welfare activities and collaboration with the international and national nongovernmental organizations are expending in various governmental sectors. Then Myanmar government set up the National Policy by updating the Disabled Person's Employment Act in 1958. Also, the law on Rehabilitation and Employment of PWDs was based on the enacted legislation in 1958 to provide more disability-related services and programs that existing as the fourth draft until now.
Since 1975, the Constitution of the Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma (Myanmar) emphasized the provisions for rehabilitation of PWDs and their reintegration in productive activities after rehabilitation. Government rehabilitation policies for PWDs are implemented through the Ministry of Social Welfare with twin-track approaches such as encouraging self-reliance and decreasing reliance for long term sustainability. Earlier time, before the period of the declaration of the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled People, 1993-2002, the Central Law Scrutinizing Committee reviewed the disability laws in Myanmar. It is now in the technical finalized stage to perform in the near future. In this drafted law ensures the rights to access social services especially for health, education and employment opportunities.
Also, the MDGs cannot be fully achieved without the inclusion of PWDs, the current track toward the achievement of the MDGs may further increase their marginalization. Furthermore, the impact of the multiple global crises threatens and the achievement of the MDGs processes and mechanisms have disproportionate and negative impact on PWDs in developing countries. Many experts pointed out that the new decade should be conducted in collaboration with sub-regional bodies. Most commitments have been made by the international development community to include PWDs in all aspects of development, the gap between policy and practices.
The legal framework of the recent constitution of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, 2008 mentions in section 32 as the Union shall care for mothers and children, orphans, fallen Defense Services personnel's children, the aged and the disabled people and also ensure disabled ex-Defense Services personnel a decent living and free vocational training. Again, a law shall be enacted to provide assistance and care for disabled Defense Services personnel and the families of deceased or fallen Defense Services personnel in section 344. That included the following declaration by seeking various ways and means for the rehabilitation of disability also providing re-integration of persons with disabilities in the production activities after the rehabilitation period.
Also, the new Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar has already initiated ensuring the rights of PWDs and signed the Bali Declaration on Inclusive Development for People with Disabilities on 17th November, 2011. The CRPD does not add any new special rights exclusively for persons with disabilities, but ensures the universal rights to them on an equal basis with others. That is why the CRPD can show the way of mainstreaming of disability perspectives into society. Yet, until the time of doing this research, the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities Law is still draft and there is a lack of research and recommendations to establish an inclusive development program for those with disabilities in Myanmar.
Myanmar is one of the member countries in ASEAN REGION and Myanmar is now undertaking the ASEAN Decade 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. Moreover, ASEAN Charter came into force in December 2008. That Charter has emphasized the regulations on equal access for human development, social protection and law. However, people with disabilities have not been treated adequately discrimination and distinction. Many countries have policies for disabled people to help them for integrating in their society, but the gap between policy and implementation still existing. Policies used to be treated just for the PWDs rather than the community and society itself. Its Article 1 declares that one of the purposes of ASEAN is
"To promote a people-oriented ASEAN in which all sectors of society are encouraged to participate in, and benefit from, the process of ASEAN integration and community building."
Also, that Charter emphasizes the purpose of providing the peoples of ASEAN region with equitable access to opportunities for human development, social welfare and justice. The disability sector in ASEAN with 60 million populations is also the one which shall be encouraged and provided with equitable access though the ASEAN mechanism.
Through the better understanding of the heterogeneous requirements of PWDs, CRPD is formulated to equalize opportunity for them by implementing to fulfill the disability issues in IE and CBR programmes. Heterogeneity is one of the major characteristics of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. Now "Rights of Disabled Persons Law" was submitted to the Hluttaw (Senate) NAY PYI TAW, 27th June, 2012. That draft law tries to safeguard the rights of PWDs in Myanmar, to ensure that they enjoy fundamental human rights without discrimination on the grounds of disabilities, and to improve their living standards by letting them participate in national development tasks.
3.3 Education policy in Myanmar
Education is upgrading and altering the social and political environment can increase the opportunities to use capabilities for PWDs directly through accessible structures. To meet the Millennium Development Goals, the international community needs to address disability issues. The application of skills in education can get the free space for PWDs by bringing greater flexibility, and this can benefit for the whole community.
After getting the independence, the Government announced new Educational Policy which was based upon the "Report of the Educational Policy Inquiry Committee and upon other reports previously considered by Government" (Office of the SUPDT, 1953, p 3), but the policy was not successful due to the factors of the outbreak of civil war. The new policy was initiated in 1st June, 1950 with a plan for free education for all students from the primary level. Private schools were allowed under the "Private Schools Act 1951". Also, the compulsory primary education project was introduced in Yangon for two years. In 1953, the government launched the new education system as one of the ten "Welfare Plans" (Office of the SUPDT, 1953, p 17) to train a sufficient number of technicians for the national rehabilitation plan.
Education at that time has brought about both academic and vocational skills but inequality of opportunities and no provision for the spiritual development for all children. In 1962, all schools became nationalized, and the system of education was reorganized the Basic Education system with Primary School, Secondary School and High School. In 1974, military rule changed the constitution, and in that constitution "Article 152" determined as
"Every citizen shall have the right to education" and "basic education would be compulsory".
Although the right to free education was theoretically free to all, in fact, it was a different story for PWDs. In UNICEF report, at least 40% of children never attend school and almost three-quarters fail to complete primary education at that time in Myanmar (Khin Maung Kyi et al, 2000, p 146). In these children, most of them are disabled. From this point of view, the researcher evaluates that the situation of PWDs education opportunities in Myanmar is still limited and difficult to ensure the education of children with disabilities and reach the national goal. Because school buildings and teaching facilities are not accessible for children with disabilities, educational teachers and staffs with proper training to teach disabled children are very limited, and families cannot afford to send their disabled children to school due to poverty. Special education programs are also not available in every region and states. As consequence effect of it, people with disabilities become an uneducated group, and continuously cannot access advanced vocational studies, good jobs and cannot participate in IT based society.
However, this study finds out that the new demands of the Myanmar education system are reasonable and equitable system of formal and non-formal education to develop shared understanding, and promote school and home closer together for grassroots level. MOE adopted the World Declaration on Education for All (Inter-Agency Commission, 1990) and formulated Myanmar EFA-NAP since 2003. This plan aimed to develop in all education sectors with equal access and relevance to basic Education level for all school age children. Also, EFA-NAP aims to reduce illiteracy rates of PWDs by implementing the regular and special education system. Inclusive Education and upgrade Life Skills for out-of-school youths with disabilities is directly beneficial to social and economic development efforts of the nation.
In accordance with that new educational policy, every citizen has the right to education and shall be given basic education which the Union prescribes by the Union laid down as compulsory in "Section 366" of that new constitution, 2008. Also the Union shall honor and assist citizens who are outstanding in education irrespective of race, religion and sex according to their qualifications. Implementing the educational rehabilitation programs can encourage self-reliance of PWDs and decrease dependency.
3.3.1 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.
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.
Again, 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 as follow:
Every citizen has the right to education;
Every citizen shall be given basic education which the Union prescribes by law as compulsory; and
Every citizen has the right to conduct scientific research to explore science, work with creativity and write to develop the arts and conduct research freely other branches of culture.
There are some inclusive education schools and special schools for disabled children in the entire country, which are run by MOE and Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement. However, it is still very little if we compared to the entire nation. By regarding about the better of the educational opportunities for PWDs, the government's efforts are still in limitations.
Also, 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. From this study, the researcher notified that content, teaching-learning methods and hours have been carefully specified for primary and secondary school curricula.
3.3.2 Myanmar Child law for especially for education
Children with disabilities can entitle to education, according to the Child Law. Myanmar Child Law was enacted in July 1993 in order to implement the rights of the child recognized in the CRC. The Child Law, Article 20 stated that
"Every child shall have the opportunities of acquiring education and the right to acquire free basic education (primary level) at state schools".
Also the MOE 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".
3.3.3 Inclusive Education Policy in Myanmar
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 CWDs.Â The national policy on IE is grounded in international legislation and policy.Â
Inclusive Education policy is the best approach for addressing the participatory learning strategy focusing on PWDs. That policy urgently addresses to the needs of learners who are marginalized and excluded through responsive educational opportunities. The Dakar World Education Forum in April 2000 was also pointed out:
"The key challenge is to ensure that the broad vision of Education for All as an inclusive concept is reflected in national government and funding agency policies. Education for All â€¦ must take account of the need of the poor and the most disadvantaged, including working children, remote rural dwellers and nomads, and ethnic and linguistic minorities, children, young people and adults affected by conflict, HIV/AIDS, hunger and poor health; and those with special learning needsâ€¦" (Expanded commentary on the Dakar Framework for Action, para 19)
Summing up, the Myanmar government is now trying for the inclusion of these excluded disabled communities such as physically and intellectually disabled children and children with special needs. But there are still a large number of children who are not yet attending schools. This is also an issue for every country in the world. So every country tries to find out these children from excluded groups and not yet included in the formal education stream. In this respect, the term inclusive education came into existence. Based on the Salamanca Statement, Myanmar is now trying for the inclusion of these excluded groups physically and intellectually challenged children.
3.4 The government's and stakeholders'Â perceptions of inclusive education
IE is under the umbrella of EFA. Myanmar has the IE policy in 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 will be 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.
At the ceremony of Celebration to "Make the Right Real" at 27th June, 2012, the Union Minister of Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement of Myanmar U Aung Kyi said that:
"Children, who have completed special education and basic primary education from the respective schools for the disabled, are now pursuing education at basic education middle, high schools and universities concerned shoulder to shoulder to ordinary children. Since 2006, the schools for the blind have got access to email and the internet and Myanmar sign language dictionary and Myanmar sign language basic spoken book have been published for the deaf. The Myanmar blind language written pattern book is also in the process of compliment. Measures will be taken to publish more books for the disabled".
He also said that that Myanmar will more and more try to improve quality of life of the disabled people as it is a member of the UNCRPD. That ceremony was organized by DSW, Myanmar Independent Living Initiative (MILI), UNESCAP, Asia-Pacific Development Center on Disability (APCD) and The Nippon Foundation (TNF) to honor the real rights for the disabled in connection with the promotion of the implementation of the UNCRPD at Sky Palace Hotel in Nay Pyi Taw Hotel Zone.
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.
However, the findings of this field research show that the government's perspective inclusive education for PWDs does not fully accept it for full inclusion. Through the ministry level, the right to inclusive education for CWDs can understand very well, but in grass-root levels implements cannot aware yet. They are still seen disability as special issue and mostly think that disabled children needs to go only to special schools (not to mainstream schools).
Also, 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.
3.5 International Norms on Education for children with disabilities
In 2000, the Dakar Framework for Action for EFA was adopted at The World Education Forum to achieve the quality basic education by 2015. That framework generated with six comprehensive goals especially as free and compulsory primary education for all children, equitable access to life skills programs, and achieving measurable improvements in the quality of education by 2015. These goals are addressing the educational issues of CWDs, but the Salamanca commitment was not incorporated into that framework. EFA initiatives were not included CWDs under the Flagship of "The Right to Education for PWDs: Towards Inclusion" after adopting Dakar framework. However, with minimal resources and non-formal structure had limited success.
Another major international commitment to universal primary education, Millennium Development Goals (MDG) was made in 2000. Those goals recognize education as central to this aim in the goal to 'achieve universal primary education'.
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
3.6 Implementation of the Inclusive Education 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. In addition, 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.
The political and social context is discussed in terms of international policy 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 and recommended 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. 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 such as
Accomplishment of the school principal;
Level of school attendance;
Implementation of monthly lesson plans;
Use of teaching aids, facilities & laboratories;
Cultivating morale and ethics;
Capacity of teaching staff;
Adequate classrooms and furniture;
School sanitation and tidiness;
Adequate teaching aids and multimedia facilities;
Greening of a school campus; and
Good physical setting of schools.
Myanmar has made 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.
Inclusive education (IE) is to support education for all, with special emphasis on removing barriers to participation and learning for girls and women, disadvantaged groups, children with disabilities and out-of-school children. The core point of IE is the basic right to education, which is rooted in many international human rights treaties since the UDHR adopted in 1948. The Dakar Education Forum (2000) reaffirmed that education was a fundamental human right and underlined the importance of a rights-based government actions in implementing EFA activities at the national level. The agreements on the principles and standards of IE spelt out the international human rights instruments and a rights-based education system. Myanmar government applies a rights-based approach to education in their programming and planning processes.
It will also briefly discuss possible entry points and tools to move forward. In addition, it is hoped that this research will increase understanding of human rights' importance in underpinning development cooperation programming, as well as fostering a discussion on the practical aspects of implementing such programming. Many of the problems are related to the lack of education quality, relevance and exclusion of learning. There is a well-recognized link between overcoming the barriers of learning and achieving the EFA goals. Government and schools' principals must, therefore, pay special attention to children who should be in school, and are not, and to children who are in school, but are unable to succeed there.
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.
By the collaboration and cooperation of MOE, DSW is implementing inclusive education for the students with disabilities especially for the Blind and the Deaf students. Also, inclusive education workshops were held throughout the country and the teachers from the MOE and the staffs from DSW were also attended. Myanmar is now implementing six 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.
In this situation, if the service providers can make the concerted efforts harmoniously, the life quality of PWDs will surely be enhanced and pleasant. Inclusive education can bring about the educational opportunities for CWDs. Some NGOs and DPOs are collaborating with the Department of Social Welfare, the Department of Basic Education and the Department of Health for CWDs, who have completed their primary and lower secondary education level through special schools, able to continue their education.
3.6.1 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.
Myanmar Independent Living Initiative (MILI) has concrete plan to implement the IE programs for children with cross-disabilities, they could not take shape it yet fully because their organization is just one year old & still young. But, some executive members of MILI organization are actively involved in comprehensive disability law drafting process to ensure the educational rights of PWDs. The Long experience of disability inclusive education for five years, the community-based rehabilitation programs mainly supported poor children with disabilities to go to mainstream schools, advocated parents and education teachers for disability inclusive education and renovated the schools to be accessible for students with disabilities in collaboration with Department of basic education, DSW, local PWDs' Self-help Organizations and other relevant stakeholders.
That organization has planned to work in IE policy for PWDs by following kinds of strategies;
Awareness raising and advocacy for disability inclusive education policy & law
Capacity building of educational officers and staffs, and parents as well
Support children with disabilities for their mainstream and special schools
Change the schools as accessible friendly places for disabled children
Strengthen the collaboration among government departments, non-government sectors and relevant stakeholders to ensure the educational right of disabled children
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. According to the UN CRPD agreement emphasizes bi-lingual/bi-cultural education for people with hearing disability. 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.
Undertaking All School-age Children in School Program
In Myanmar, all school aged children in school project (ACIS) was implemented by the MOE by collaborating with UNICEF since 1994 with the aims of reducing the number of over-aged out of school children, eliminating non-school going populace, ensuring that all school aged children to attend school and increasing the enrollment rate of primary level students. They designed the last week of May as the Whole Country School Enrollment Week.
3.6.2 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. This study found that mainstream schools are not properly equipped to cater for students with disabilities which mean that most CWDs are forced to attend special schools, despite the policy. 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 in an interview with the principal of the Kyee Myint Daing School for the Blind found 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.
Further, while the study found that, 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.
Special Program for Over-aged Children
This program is one of the branches of all school aged children in school especially for over-aged children. It was started in 2003-04 AY at basic education schools. If the child has between the age of 7 and 8, he/she will complete the primary education within 3 years and if the child has over 9 years of age, this accelerated program enables to complete his/her primary education within 2 years.
Monastic Education System
Under the supervision the Ministry of Religious Affairs, the monastic basic education schools are initiated by collaborating with the MOE. They use the formal basic education curriculum of MOE but the schooling hour is flexible according to the students' availability. This program is so benefit for the marginalized children including CWDs that is complementary to the formal education system. In 2010-11 AY, there were about 1431 Monastic schools (1071 primary schools, 246 post primary schools, 112 middle schools and 2 high schools) with 0.215 million students including novices and nuns. Currently, at least 40% of all students in Myanmar are attending at these monastic schools. The research found that it is still very few opportunities for CWDs if we compared to the entire nation.
3.7 Problems of accessibility to education faced by PWDs
The principle of basic education as a right based approach has been accepted internationally. However, a large number of CWDS are not able to complete a minimum number of school years in most developing countries. They face a variety of barriers before coming to school and even within the school. This research findings highlighted the problems of CWDs to access education that although the regulation and laws on inclusive education for all excluded children have been well established in Myanmar. 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 Asian 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 program. 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 issues 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 in 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 of 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. Particip