The tenth and final #TeacherTuesday this week comes from Indonesia, and a teacher called Siti who is a special technical academic assistance teacher to children with disabilities in Tunas Harapan Elementary School – Bandung City in West Java. The focus of this blog post, and on Siti, is to explore inclusive education.
Tunas Harapan is an inclusive school appointed by West Java Provincial Education Office that serves around 44 students with special needs, of that 29 children have a disability. The school has 10 special teachers who assist those 44 students both in inclusive rooms and stimulation room for. Save the Children through IKEA project have been supporting to improve the stimulation room, teaching-learning aids, and teacher skill on inclusive education service. The school usually gets awards for the best dancer and singer in several student performances like traditional dancing and music at the city and provincial level.
Siti talks about her teaching situation:
There are 44 children with disability out of 672 across 17 classes in the school that I teach in. They are aged 7 to 13 years old.
I am responsible for teaching grades 4, 5 and 6. I normally go to school at 6am and I’m in school until 6pm. It is a very long day and I teach 6 days each week.
I didn’t want to be a teacher at the start, but one day in 2001 I met with some street children who had disabilities – they had hearing barriers – so then I was really eager to learn about disabilities so I took the masters at university about special needs education. I became a teacher in 2005. I have been described as an architect for children with disability. I am now 29 years old.
I design the classroom in the shape of a U and I stand in the middle in order to give all students attention and eye contact in the classroom. By standing near to those who have disability – especially those who are hyperactive – I can give them greater attention.
I handle children with ADHD, and many with downs syndrome. More than half of the children with disabilities are girls.I make sure my teaching is inclusive and use techniques to do this. Usually at the beginning of the class we look at what is expected from students in each subject. This is my most useful teaching aid – I have a working paper for students so that I can monitor their progress from the beginning until the end of the semester. We look at each of the names of the children and what they have achieved. This means that those who have ADHD can participate more. We decide what each student will achieve in each subject in a year, so that each is reviewed at the end of each semester. It is useful to show what each student has learnt.
In second grade there are down syndrome students who have good achievements in dancing and singing. I always try to increase their self-confidence so that the other students can see them as part of their group. I sometimes divide the classroom into several groups, making sure that the children with down syndrome are included in different groups, and can participate in the process.
In my school there are no drop outs, but in general there is no accurate data on how many children are dropping out and how many cannot access school because of their disability. Even the government does not have data on that.
There are many different backgrounds in the school – from poor right up to the rich. The schools don’t have any special requirements to receive students as long as the students want to learn there, then they can. Our school is in an urban setting, so mostly the parents are from middle class families.
What is being done in Siti's school and country to support students with disabilities:
It is still true that at district level there is no systematic training for teachers in teaching children with disabilities. My school has an initiative to have a sort of press conference to look at case by case in schools of each students – to assess and identify each child’s disability.
The in-house training at my school is twice a week. This is independently organized by the school and is training given by friends who have experience, a sort of network of other teachers. It’s very informal.
There is no systematic training for teachers to improve their skills and knowledge, but some areas, such as West Java do have some programmes.
There are many schools in Indonesia which have already been appointed at district levels as inclusive schools and can directly receive children with disability. Otherwise, it’s not automatic that teachers have training in inclusive education.
Teachers in West Java have tried to change the paradigm of inclusive education, to change the culture in schools and make them child friendly. This is because we can all see that many children in the community cannot have access to education. This is true for older children too. There are no ramps in schools, and for cerebral palsy students there is no funding for them. And there’s a misperception by teachers sometimes – they deny the students with disabilities and just send them to special schools. Some schools will only receive a limited number of children with disabilities every year. There are many children with disabilities who are not in school.
The government is trying to increase the access, by increasing funding from the national to the district and provincial level, and to create more inclusive schools, and start training programmes for teachers. Things are improving in some areas – such as West Java – but in general, a very small proportion of children with disabilities are going to school.
There are often school committees with parents, including the parents of those with disabilities. This is only in pilot schools in Indonesia at the moment.
Looking towards the future:
An inspiring moment for me was when one of my students with ADHD received a paper back and they had got 100%, they were so excited and they couldn’t believe it!
My first piece of advice for teachers arriving at the school is that they must first work out what the exact learning barriers the children in their class are facing so that they can help with their learning. They must get to know each student. The second advice is to make sure they know about inclusive education so all children are learning.
My hope for the future is that there will be no such label as special inclusive schools as instead all schools in Indonesia will be inclusive!
A UNESCO fact sheet provides more information about the global situation with disabilities and education.
This blog post is a contribution to Week 10 of #TeacherTuesday, a UNESCO and EFA initiative. I invite you to also read from my blog:
- Week 9 - South Africa: Teacher quality and holistic learning make a difference
- Week 8 - Australia: Rural and Indigenous - Strategies to improve learning
- Week 7 - Bangladesh: Learning on water with solar powered technology
- Week 6 - The Netherlands: Teacher preparation means higher learning outcomes
- Week 5 - Kenya: Working to break the poverty-education cycle
- Week 4 - Syria: Displaced learners in Zaatari refugee camp
- Week 3 - Afghanistan: An issue of Gender Equity the World Should Take Notice
- Week 2 - Honduras: Teach Students in the Language of their thoughts
- Week 1 - Malawi: The Struggle for Literacy
- #TeacherTuesday - background information