Poor awareness of SEN services in Mongar

Currently, there are 43 SEN students in MMSS

While the Mongar Middle Secondary School (MMSS) also provides special educational services to the Special Education Need (SEN) children, the main challenge faced by the school is poor awareness of SEN services in the community.

Though people are aware of the special needs of children with different abilities, when it comes to real acceptance, parents themselves do not seem to have an acceptance.

The school’s SEN coordinator, Yeshey Choeki said special needs children might suffer discrimination when the parents of those children are reluctant to accept and support their child.

“Even though parents accept it, they believe that their child would be hopeless. In the workplace, though employers know that a person is with a disability, they are judged and the community’s expectations from them are lowered and they are naturally discriminated against their ability,” the coordinator said.

Meanwhile, before the Covid-19 pandemic, the school used to have advocacy and awareness programs with the community. But since 2020, they have not been able to conduct any programs. Moreover, most of those parents are illiterate.

Currently, there are 43 SEN students, of which 20 students are considered as with severe cases and the rest are students identified with learning difficulties.

Yeshey Choeki said they cater to the needs of students with special needs in an inclusive setting and focus on providing activities for daily living skills, life skills, and pre-vocational skills classes.

The SEN students are kept in the mainstream classroom and they take the pullout sessions in a separate room. On campus, there are five SEN providers, of which three are full SEN providers and two are teaching general classes together with the pullout classes.

In the pullout sessions, they are given activities for daily living skills, life skills, and pre-vocational classes (grade four to six) where the main components are basic skills for independent livelihood as they lack work ethics, work behavior, and work skills.

“They have to be educated on every basic things with steps in pre-vocational skills,” she said.

Additionally, functional numeracy and literacy skills are also given. Functional numeracy is related to mathematics and talks about numeracy concerning their work skills.

With REC’s new prospectus, Functional Learning Curriculum (FLC) is taught but they are taught less compared to what mainstream students learn. However, with the shortage of teachers, FLC is taught by general teachers.

“Though SEN students learn along with the mainstream students, their lessons are differentiated and taught based on FLC,” she said, adding that their exams are also modified based on what they learn in the classroom.

Mild to severe students are given the pullout classes, while mild to moderate are taught the general curriculum. But they receive accommodation in a way that teachers provide more support in learning with extra timing.

Today the SEN department is challenged with lack of resources as the students need more teaching-learning materials and worksheets. Moreover, human resources is another struggle for the school as general teachers have to take both classes.

“In a class, if there are four students with different learning abilities, teachers have to provide individual attention to all four students in addition to mainstream students. So teachers encounter a burden,” Yeshey Choeki said.

A class teacher of grade II, Cheten Zangmo said she has a lone special ability student in her classroom suffering from cerebral palsy.

“He has to be carried everywhere he goes as he is a motor disability child. Her mother escorts him to the class, toilet, and other areas in the campus. He is physically challenged. He is provided with a laptop for typing instead of writing,” she said.

“In a class when general students are given an activity, I take few minutes to teach him and then provide activity. If there are less number of students in a classroom, we can give more attention and we are expecting additional teachers,” she added.

Tenzin Lhamo from Mongar