Lack of special education needs teachers hinder care for the disabled

About 44% of Persons with Disability (PWD) face emotional violence while more than 42% face physical violence, and about 14% of PWD has encountered sexual violence.

This data came to light after the study ‘disability needs survey’ was conducted to determine necessary information for the formulation of the national policy for persons with disability.

A sample of 500 PWD from 17 Dzongkhags was interviewed for the disability needs survey. The survey aimed to find out the challenges faced by PWD, barriers that contribute to the problems of PWDs encounter and also to help guide policy and service development.

The survey also looks to determine the situation and challenges faced by PWD in the country, to identify the gaps between the existing programs and projects and to identify future requirements for services.

According to United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (UNCRPD), PWD includes those who have long term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments; which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.

The report revealed that about 22,000 Bhutanese are living with disabilities in the country and the number is estimated to rise in the next 20 years as people age.

Additionally, the Inclusive Education Conference at Paro last week, which was attended by Dzongkhag Education Officers (DEOs) from across the country revealed lack of data on disability. There was no comprehensive data maintained by any agencies nor was there any comprehensive studies carried out on disability, except on children with disabilities.

UNCRPD defines inclusive education as all children learning together in mainstream classrooms in their locality or community, irrespective of the different range of abilities or disabilities.

The conference aimed to identify the scope of leadership in the special education processes and to understand everyone’s responsibilities toward inclusive education.

During the conference, a leadership challenge in inclusive schools  pointed out was the lack of trained or specialized teachers.

At the conference, the Thimphu Thromde’s chief education officer, Sangay Drukpa, said that teachers catering to Special Education Needs (SEN) program does not have formal qualification in special education and also lack passionate teachers.

His presentation also revealed that SEN providers are unable to provide intensive and quality services as most of the teachers catering to SEN program have equal number of periods as the rest of the teachers.

He also highlighted the lack of resources like assistive devices, recreational facilities, lack of physical structure and difficulty in hiring physiotherapist or volunteer teachers are a challenge.

Currently there are 14 SEN Schools in the country. The education ministry plans to open another SEN school in the 12th Five Year Plan.

Lucky Wangmo from Paro