A national Inclusive Education policy promoting respect and lifelong learning
- Inclusive Education Policy
- Samoa Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture
- Country of Implementation
- Australia & Oceania
- Start Year
- First published
“My daughter is deaf and attends a mainstream classroom. Our family learned sign language so that she can communicate with us and be included in our decision making.” Mother of a deaf student
In 2014, Samoa’s Ministry of Education, Sports, and Culture (MESC) introduced the Inclusive Education Policy for Students Living with Disability, which regulates access to basic learning and recognizes diversity, culture, respect, and acceptance. The policy targets inclusive and equitable quality education and promotes lifelong learning opportunities for all. The MESC is the main monitoring agent for the policy. The National Inclusive Education Policy Implementation Plan guides collaborative implementation by the MESC and NGOs. From 2014 to 2019, the number of students with disabilities increased from 133 to 469.
Lack of school attendance by young people with disabilities in Samoa can be due to community attitudes such as shame, superstition, and lack of understanding.
Solution, Innovation and Impact
With help from the Australian Government, the MESC introduced a national disability policy, which consists of regulations regarding early childhood education, national safe schools, Inclusive Education for students with disabilities (IEP), and minimum service standards for primary and secondary schools. IEP relates to all children and students with disabilities from birth to 21 years, and also includes specific group of vulnerable students. The government itself is implementing the policy and has created a five-year Educational Sector Plan, which involves several ministries and NGOs that assist with the implementation and monitoring. The policy applies a holistic approach, covering areas such as school access, attitudes and values, accessible learning materials, teacher training, and support services. The policy also assists children with learning disabilities to attend mainstream schools with adequate support resources, such as accessible learning materials. In addition to qualified personnel in Samoa, technical advisors from Australia and New Zealand provide the required expertise. While the policy implementation is still in its early stages, between 2014 and 2019 the number of students with disabilities attending mainstream schools increased from 133 to 469.
Funding, Outlook and Transferability
The Government of Samoa provides funding for students with disabilities in all schools through the One Government Grant. The Government of Australia funds Inclusive Education service providers and special schools. To monitor implementation, there is a funding agreement between the Government of Samoa and NGOs specifying how the funds are to be spent, and the NGOs are required to submit work plans and quarterly reviews to the MESC. The MESC intends to implement a capacity-development plan for principals, teachers, and support personnel, and to roll out technical vocational and early childhood education training by 2024.