As the whole world prepares to celebrate the International Day of People with Disabilities scheduled to take place on December 3, 2022, the management of the National Council of Persons with Disabilities in Rwanda announces that the Inclusive Education program has become a sustainable solution for children with disabilities. They say that’s because when a child with a disability studying together with normal children, it makes him or her feel like a member of the family and know that he or she has the same rights like others.
This was announced by Ndayisaba Emannuel, the Executive Secretary of the National Council of Persons Disabilities, when he was in an interview with the media after visiting the Institut Smaldone, a school which teaches children without hearing and non-speaking disabilities and normal children.
Mr. Ndayisaba said that because the government has set up inclusive education, children with disabilities learn well and get rid of them from isolation, and this also allows them to be part of a wider family and even after leaving school they can go to work without any problems.
He said: "In general, if you look at it, the first thing is that they grow up in isolation, when children with disabilities learn alone in their classes alone with no one else, if they are blind, maybe it is appropriate in their school, you understand something they put in them and they grow up knowing that there is no one else the person they live with is not a person with that disability, but when they mix and play with other children they get used to each other, and going to the family even after school is helpful.”
“When children go to school like that, you see if it is a child who rides a bicycle, his neighbor comes and pushes him to school without asking his parents to take him because they are used to living with them. If I finish school and work, it will be the same, a person with a disability will come to work with you and you won’t say ’what is this person doing?”
Marie Jeanne Uwayisaba, a nun, who leads the Smaldone Institute, says that before they used to receive children with hearing and speech disabilities, those children were lonely and there were some of those who refused to return to their families after classes, but when the inclusive education started, these children with disabilities can learn from those normal ones, and it has made many of them to be free and they can be social with all normal children.
She said: "The first thing is that the child feels that he or she is not alone, maybe for example, like in the past years we didn’t have inclusive education, even the parents themselves would come to take their children and could refuse to go with them, most of them used to be left here in the center, but where we set up a program to receive hearing children, children with hearing impairment see how they live with their father and mother, seeing them listening or speaking. Also, children help each other. Deaf children mostly succeed in mathematics lessons and explain it to normal ones, and normal children use to know language lessons and explain them to their colleagues with speaking and hearing disabilities."
"What we intended was that those children who have speaking and hearing disabilities, in the future, when they will have finished school they will also have tha ability to go to the labor market and be able to find a job. Another thing we have planned is the development of sign language." She added
Although there is an inclusive education program that is very useful for children with disabilities, there are still obstacles in that there are words that have not yet been identified to be included in sign language.
According to NCPD, there is still a problem that there is a very small number of teachers or other people who have the knowledge and ability to take care of children with disabilities in Rwanda, and it says that they have a plan to ask the government to create special scholarships for people who want to study teaching and taking care for the children with disabilities.