A small gathering on Friday morning saw the launch of the Pacific Indicators for Disability Inclusive Education.
Held at the Millennia Samoan Fale, among the guests were Professor Karoline Fuatai, the C.E.O of Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture (M.E.S.C); Suria Apulu, Board member for Nuanua O le Alofa (N.O.L.A); Associate Professor Umesh Sharma from Monash University; and Rosemary Mckay, of the Australian High Commission.
The Indicators will be developed through the systematic collection of information that demonstrate how well children with disabilities are included in the education system and what more can be done.
According to Monash University ‘this project aims to develop a set of contextually specific indicators for disability-inclusive education in the Pacific and guidelines for implementation. These indicators will assist countries to evaluate their efforts and develop further plans and targets for providing quality education for children and youth with disability.’
The project began in 2013 and is funded by the Australian government which basically seeks to give good equal education to all children and not just to those without disabilities.
Professor Sharma said the ndicators are a helpful tool for every country.
“This is a tool that will help the countries decide whether they would like to move forward with implementing inclusion and how to go about it,” he said.
“We have developed a set of indicators which ministries, school principles and school teachers can ask ‘how am I doing in my classroom? is it making my class more inclusive or not?’”
“Ministries can ask ‘if we are not being very inclusive then what do we need to do next and how better can we move forward.”
These indicators give an option with what each country wants to use for their country with the aim of producing inclusive education.
“This is all about changing the system so that the needs of all children should be met,” Professor Sharma said. “The foundation of our indicating tool is the attempt of making all children happy with the good education provided.”
According to Ms. Mckay, the launch is a major step forward for Samoa.
“Congratulations to Samoa for being one of the key countries to participate in developing these indicators,” Ms. Mckay said. “Your input and expertise have contributed to a resource which will benefit the Pacific as a whole.”
Ms. Mckay sees the importance of these indicators to the lives of children with disabilities.
“It can transform lives, improve employment opportunities, and lift living standards for families and communities,” Ms. Mckay said.
“It can mean the difference between children with disabilities going with their friends to school or missing out; having a job or not.”