The Special Education (SE) project directly benefits some of the most vulnerable members of our community. This project supports disabled children’s educational and personal development either in schools or at home, and is crafted to meet each child’s particular needs. The project also assists parents to identify good childcare practices to ensure they are looking after their children as best they are able. Additionally, KWO delivers awareness raising to the community with information on the rights of children with disabilities, the imperative to increase access to education for these children and the importance of facilitating their participation in community life. This KWO project is the only one of its kind in the refugee camps and in Karen State providing assistance to children with disabilities and their families.
The special education (SE) project has been operating for almost twenty years and aims to achieve the basic rights of all children and youth living with disabilities in Karen refugee camps, as well as work to enable them to take part in community life. We support children and youth with disabilities and their families by providing care and educational services available to them and attempting to strengthen community awareness and acceptance.
The SE project has four main components:
- Early Intervention with young children and disability (home visits
and learning centre)
- Inclusive Education (up to Standard 2 in mainstream schools, SE
centres and home visits)
- School for students with hearing impairments in six camps only
- School for students with visual impairments in two camps only
KWO runs classes for children with disabilities who come to the center
and study there. For those who cannot come, there is a tailored individual
plan where the teacher does the home visit and provided the children with
care at home. The SE project is currently running in seven camps, with
282 female and 343 male students totaling 625 children with disabilities
receiving services, better care by their parents and support from the
community. The SE program in Karen State runs in one IDP and five sites in
three districts. It serves 116 girls and 149 boys and has 8 area coordinators,
10 central staff with 90 women and 14 men total of 104 staff. KWO distributes
quarterly hygiene packs to children with disabilities including soap,
toothpaste, toothbrush and talcum powder. Play sessions are run at each
SE Centre for groups of children in the Early Intervention program once or
twice a week depending on the availability of the students and parents.
In Karen culture, disabilities are not well understood. Families are often blamed for having a child with a disability and communities assume this a result of bad behavior in a past life, and that the child’s needs are a punishment. KWO challenges these beliefs through community education workshops for a half day on topics including child rights, supporting children with disabilities, inclusive education, nutrition and hygiene.
Community education workshops are held regularly in Karen State and in the refugee camps. Attendees of the workshops include parents of disabled children, neighbors, carers, other parents, mainstream school teachers and community leaders. In the camps, 184 participated in 2018 and in Karen State 696 people joined. In 2018 and 2019, SE teachers in the camps were all provided with regular training by camp-based trainers, guest trainers or town-based project staff. Training is relevant to the work the SE staff do and the needs of the students who have various disabilities. Training includes types and causes of disability, how to prevent disability, autism, down syndrome and how to work with children who have disabilities learn and write lesson plans.
Through various community awareness days, KWO also works to break stereotypes that typically undermine the potential and abilities of students in the SE project. Some of these days include International Deaf Day, International Day for the Blind, International Day of the Disabled, Christmas and New Year and other event invitations from SE students in the community with 3645 attendees from the camps and in Karen State
KWO is an ethnic women’s community-based organization that empowers women so they have capacity and power to solve their own problems and participate in decision-making that will affect their lives.
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