Access to education is a human right.
For Kiak Guande (picture above, left and Moses Tekei (pictured above, right), both currently undergoing Australia Awards Graduate Certificate in Disability Inclusion short course, being inclusive is of paramount importance at their institutions.
Kiak is a midwife by profession, working as a Clinical Supervisor with Lutheran School of Nursing in Madang, assessing and supervising midwifery students during clinical placements.
She explains that the job their graduates will do requires the gap in disability inclusion at institutions be addressed.
“Through this course and learning the concepts of disability, especially the social and medical models, as a medical person, I’ve realised that we see disability as something that needs to be corrected medically.
“But the social model of disability shows that where a person lives, the environment, the attitude of people they interact with and the education curriculum and pedagogy used can cause hindrances and barriers.
“So, for us to see a new angle rather than just the medical model is a great way forward, we will now try to implement inclusive education in our institutions, as it can have a positive impact.”
Course mate and head of the humanities department at Gumine Secondary School in Simbu Province, Moses Tekei shared similar views.
In his 14 years of secondary teaching, Moses has realised that students with impairments attending mainstream schools are not given proper support to learn.
“Because we are focused on academic results, teachers don’t have time to deal with students with disabilities. And without the support, they (the students) are unable to complete their studies and are pushed out.”
After completing the first part of their course, delivered by the Queensland University of Technology, Kiak and Moses are already identifying gaps that need to be addressed to provide inclusive education in their institutions.
“We have seen a lot of students with disabilities in kindergarten, primary and high schools”, said Moses. “But they come to realise that the learning environment is not conducive to them learning. There are no special education teachers to teach and interpret sign language and we do not have resource centres.”
Moses indicated that addressing these barriers and having better support systems in place, will help students with disabilities have opportunities to continue their education past primary school, onto high school and tertiary studies.
As they look forward to resuming the second part of their studies, both Kiak and Moses are thinking ahead to how they can apply and share the knowledge and skills they’re acquiring.
“I think there should be a review of each institution’s policies to accommodate inclusive education. With the policy in place, then we’ll eventually implement inclusive education in our institution”, Kiak suggests. “The policies will also help to build capacity and infrastructure”.
In his role as provincial in-service coordinator, Moses also plans to schedule training for teachers back in Simbu to share his learnings and conduct a survey to establish the number of students with a disability.
The two educators hope that their efforts and those of other like-minded colleagues’ can contribute to more educational opportunities for students with disability.