Inclusive Education in post-war instability
- Inclusive Education Programme of 2007 by the Ministry of Education, Iraqi-Kurdistan, Iraq
- UNICEF - Iraq
- Country of Implementation
- Asia & Pacific
- In cooperation with
- Ministry of Education
- First published
“Our beauty is greater with knowledge, learning shoulder to shoulder. Let education benefit all of us, from generation to generation.” Bekhal Jawdat, Kurdish singer/songwriter and disability advocate
Traditionally, Iraqi children with disabilities have been offered education in special schools, and were routinely denied access to mainstream schools. Furthermore, due to two decades of war and instability, Iraq’s education system was greatly diminished. In 2004 the Ministry of Education of the Region of Kurdistan developed a pilot programme on early intervention and Inclusive education, which was implemented in the city of Sulaimany. In 2007 the pilot programme was expanded and received funding and technical support from UNICEF and other partners. While Inclusive Education programmes were also implemented in other regions of Iraq, the most promising results were achieved in Iraqi-Kurdistan. To roll-out its early intervention and Inclusive Education practices piloted since 2004, the Iraqi- Kurdistan Ministry of Education developed the Inclusive Education Programme of 2007, with financial and technical support from UNICEF. The programme involves replicating Inclusive Education and early intervention across the region, opening early intervention centres, developing materials, and training staff. Since 2007 considerable steps towards Inclusive Education have been made.
The Inclusive Education Programme of Iraq’s Region of Kurdistan demonstrates that with the help of inclusive learning materials and staff training, early intervention and Inclusive Education are possible within post-war instability and dire economic conditions.
Solution, Innovation and Impact
The Inclusive Education Programme of Iraqi-Kurdistan of 2007 is a regional, non legally-binding policy. Policies, processes, and guidelines were developed to support structures within the regional Ministry of Education and the general directorates of the region in implementing the programme. Early intervention programmes were developed with families. A comprehensive curriculum for teachers, including a variety of modules and a workshop, was also developed. Monitored by UNICEF, this training benefited from the expertise of local disabled people’s organizations, which, for instance, helped teachers to practice sign language. Teaching support staff and supervisors received training on how to provide the necessary support to children with disabilities in schools. The programme primarily operates within existing school budgets. Additional activities require a specific request for funding through the general budget or via UNICEF. Occasionally, organizations assist with specific needs. Best use of limited resources The programme effectively uses existing resources (for example, overstaffing in schools) combined with additional support or with minor modifications to facilitate access to education for children with disabilities._x000D_ Involving disability advocates The participation of parents and disabled people’s organizations has played a major role in awareness-raising._x000D_ Interregional cooperation While most of Iraq is still very unstable, the Region of Kurdistan is comparatively secure, which allows representatives from the south and central areas of the country to visit and attend training courses there. The complete ownership of the programme by the Ministry of Education has meant that there have been few issues with sustainability, with local ownership, with integration into existing parallel initiatives, and with rolling-out the programme. Modelling of inclusion and early intervention in local contexts has fostered resourcefulness and innovation among teachers.
Funding, Outlook and Transferability
The programme has the potential to be implemented in the rest of Iraq and in other countries in the Middle East. Notably, it was mentioned in the 2011 Alborz study (see below), which recommended that the Iraqi Council of Ministers should draw lessons from this experience.
THE STORY OF A TEACHER AND HIS PUPIL WITH AUTISM
“The student even got a role in a music clip!”
I participated in a training course to be a support teacher for children with disabilities in the city of Erbil. I was placed in a school and assigned to work with a child with autism. I found the behaviour of the child very challenging. Hearing about my situation, officials from the Ministry of Education came to visit our school. They spoke for a long time with me, the family, and the school leadership about the rights of this child. They also came to the classroom, gave practical advice, and promised follow-up visits and support. Realising the importance of my job, I persevered. The student is now fully accepted in the school and making progress in the classroom. He has demonstrated a musical talent and even has a role in a music clip made to raise awareness of autism ( http://bit.ly/1S41uF1). Now, even if you asked me to leave, I would do the job voluntarily.