6th Annual Conference on Special Needs and Disability Compliance in Basic and Higher Education in South Africa from June 23 – 24, 2022 |06 July 2022
Seychelles delegation gathers best innovative practices
Seychelles has managed to gather some best innovative practices which could be incorporated in the education ministry’s inclusive education policy to be implemented.
This was said by the principal secretary for Education Services, Merna Eulentin, after leading a Seychelles delegation at the 6th Annual Conference on Special Needs and Disability Compliance in Basic and Higher Education held in South Africa from June 23 – 24, 2022.
PS Eulentin was speaking during a press briefing to share Seychelles’ participation in the conference.
The briefing was held yesterday morning at the ministry’s head quarters, Mont Fleuri, in the presence of the other members of the delegation which comprised Desirée Hermitte (head of section student support services), Fiona Payet (lecturer from the Seychelles Institute of Teacher Education), Mary Poris (special needs coordinator of Port Glaud primary school) and Christopher Battin (English teacher and special needs coordinator of Plaisance secondary school).
Describing the conference as “fruitful”, PS Eulentin said it has led for a rethink of the country’s sand model for special needs education which has to include the procurement of specialised equipment, training and capacity building for teachers and access to facilities, among others, for the full implementation of the inclusive education policy that was rolled out in 2015.
She said that the delegation will be drafting a report on the outcome of the conference to present to Minister Justin Valentin to further add to the actions that will be taken by the ministry, along with other partners, to ensure that students with special needs and disabilities are given the opportunity to pursue their education without the feeling of being segregated and discriminated.
The ministry is working to turn the public schools into inclusive schools to cater for all students including those with special needs and disabilities.
Mrs Hermitte said most of the primary and secondary schools in the country have a special needs coordinator to attend to students with special needs and disabilities and while waiting to enroll them on further intensive training in special needs education, the unit in charge at the ministry will continue with its programme to train them.
She explained that before a student is moved from mainstream to other specialised schools, the School for the Exceptional Child at Roche Caiman or to the School for the Deaf at Mont Fleuri, the students are identified and registered in the special education needs logbook before the information is sent to the ministry to later, with the assistance of professional from education, health, parents and other partners, diagnose the child further to ensure that he or she will not make it in the mainstream as not all students with special needs and disabilities are sent to those two specialised institutions.
Mr Battin said that they learned about the different equipment and software devices to facilitate the life of students with special needs and disabilities and that although expensive, they are very much in need to improve learning among this group of students.
He is at the moment working with some partially and totally visually impaired students at the school.
He noted that given the amount of special needs education taking place at the school, the secondary school is on the verge of becoming an inclusive school.
Ms Poris said that stories of struggle, stigmatisation, discrimination and how they surmount those pressures in class and at work places by past special needs students from South Africa and who are now very successful in life, really marked her at the conference.
She said that such acts should not happen here as everyone has the same equal right and opportunity.
She stated that at her school, the students with special needs are, with the assistance of partners and parents, diagnosed to create an own individual educational plan for their learning process.
With regard to training of teachers in special need education, Ms Payet said that she had gathered a lot of information from the conference to share with colleague lecturers, including enough to design a teaching programme to train teachers who will work with students with special needs and disabilities.
In spite of some behaviour that may occur among some children with special needs and disabilities, PS Eulentin called on the public to show compassion and a change of attitude towards all students with special education needs and disabilities, and to their parents as well. She added that the ministry will be launching a programme to help and support parents having difficulties to cope with the behaviour of their child in need of special education attention.
According to the ministry, the aim of the conference was to: share the best and innovative practices for every aspect of institutional arrangements to accommodate students with special needs and disabilities; create an alignment between institutional management, researchers, lecturers and students in order to provide harmony; prioritise the education system for a 2030 development agenda to show more flexibility, dynamism and innovation in meeting the needs of a diverse population, in order to keep pace with the rapid societal and economic changes and to highlight best practices for the theory of change to foster more effective strategies, in order to accommodate students facing severe multiple disabilities.