Two programmes that enable young children with Down syndrome to attend mainstream schools
- Education for Individuals with Down syndrome
- Country of Implementation
- Start Year
- First published
“The peace of mind I experience knowing that my child is in a nurturing environment where she thrives is beyond words.” Um e Rubab, parent of am EPEP student
KDSP, a mid-sized NGO based in Karachi, created the Early Preschool Experience Programme (EPEP) and the Programme for Inclusive Education in 2017. It prepares young children with Down syndrome and assists them in the transition to a mainstream preschool or nursery,. It uses Individualized Education Plans designed to improve communication, motor, socio-emotional, and play skills, among others. EPEP supported seven children in 2017, growing to 25 in 2022; and the number of children in mainstream schools grew from seven in 2017 to 69 in 2022.
To enable children with Down syndrome to attend a mainstream school they need preparation and support.
Solution, Innovation and Impact
KDSP has launched two programmes to prepare children with Down syndrome for life in a mainstream school and to support them and their families in entering one. KDSP is the only organization in Pakistan catering to the early educational journey of these children. The Early Preschool Experience Programme (EPEP) is a school-readiness programme that enrols children aged one and half to three years to develop their social, cognitive, and physical skills. Children receive age-appropriate Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) that focus on learning objectives in areas such as communication/language, fine and gross motor skills, socio-emotional skills, perception/play, and self-help skills. They are then implemented in a school-specific routine to prepare children for the classroom. Parents are also empowered through training and engagement sessions. After a child has been enrolled for one year in EPEP, parents are informed and guided about schooling options and become part of the Programme for Inclusive Education (PIE). Schools are supported through PIE with awareness sessions, and training for teachers and facilitators and is provided as well. After an initial reluctance to enrol children with Down syndrome in mainstream schools, there has been significant growth between 2017 and 2022. In 2022 there were 69 children in mainstream schools supported by PIE, and over 80 in 2023.
Funding, Outlook and Transferability
KDSP’s services for individuals with Down syndrome are sustained through donors, grants, and partnerships. Additionally, some limited financial support comes from the services fees that families pay. These services are tailored to each child’s age and needs, with costs either highly subsidized or entirely free, based on the family’s financial situation. In all, 95 per cent of individuals with Down syndrome are receiving some form of financial support when availing services at KDSP. (Awardee 2024)