By Fru Rita Ngum
Teachers from some inclusive schools in the NW Region have identified some challenges learners with impairments and their teachers face in the learning and teaching process. This was during a 3-day workshop organized by the Socio Economic Empowerment for Persons with Disabilities (SEEPD) programme at the Nkwen Baptist Center in Bamenda for members of the network of stakeholders in the promotion of inclusive education in the NWR created by SEEPD programme early this year.
Given that the performance of some learners with visual and learning impairments in academic work is not always the best, there was need for their teachers to come together and share their experiences on how to overcome such challenges. During the workshop, the teachers were separated in two groups made up of teachers of learning and visual impairments.
The Head Teacher of the CBC Integrated School for the Deaf (ISFD) in Mbingo, Mr. Che Manasseh coordinated discussions in the group that was made up of sign language interpreters drawn from some different schools where sign language is practiced in the NWR. The teachers established that leaners with hearing impairment face the challenge of interacting with their peers because of communication barriers; they construct very poor sentences in English, most of them lack parental and guidance assistance and support from the community, which affect their learning process. The teachers pointed out that there is little or no collaboration between the Sign Language Interpreters and other teachers making it difficult for them to sign lessons to the proper understanding of the learners with hearing impairment. The teachers also expressed concern for professional opportunities to build their capacities.
For her part, the Supervisor of the CBC Integrated School for the Blind (ISFB) Kumbo, Mrs. Kutua Magdalene led discussions in the group of teachers of learners with visual impairments who are involved in brailing their script. They highlighted that there is insufficient brailing materials, poor quality of brail papers and sometimes the children find it difficult to follow the straight line when writing.
In each group, the teachers shared their success stories which enabled them to propose possible solutions to some of the challenges. The challenges that required administrative interventions were forwarded to the management of the CBC Health Services.
The workshop came on the heels of a one day workshop organized by SEEPD programme in collaboration with the Delegations of Basic and Secondary Education for Parent Teachers’ Association (PTA), Head Teachers, Principals and School Councils from the SEEPD programme’s 14 pilot schools of inclusive education. Facilitating, Mr. Tasi George highlighted the role of the PTA and School Councils in the promotion of inclusive education in schools. He called on the participants to ensure inclusive structures, follow up for school fees exoneration for learners with impairments, amongst others.
The workshop provided an opportunity for the participants to revisit and review the action plans, which they developed in a similar workshop some two years ago. Some of the action plans included the building of ramps in their schools to improve accessibility and raising awareness amongst others. They also developed other actions plans on what they will be doing in the days ahead.
Earlier in his opening remarks, the NW Regional Delegate of Basic Education, Mr. Wilfred Wambeng applauded the SEEPD programme for the workshop and called on the parents to send their children to school come September 2017. He challenged the participants to implement the lessons learnt in the workshop.