Mobilising support example:
How to improve access of disabled students to schools
|Social development arm of Catholic Church
SummaryIn May 2022, Advocacy and Policy Institute (API), Cambodian alliance member of Change the Game Academy, conducted a Mobilising Support training for 20 trainees. By the end of the training, 9 of the participating NGOs had developed a Mobilising Support plan, which they had started to implement, coached by API. This example of Caritas Cambodia is one of them. They decided to concentrate on adjusting the physical infrastructure to make it easier for students with disabilities in schools in the project area. As the project progressed, API advised Caritas Cambodia to also:
- look into the commune budget as a possible source for funding
- submit letters to municipality and provincial level to support the activities of providing necessary infrastructure for disabled students at primary schools
- investigate the possibility of realising similar infrastructures at health centres and pagodas, (partly) paid from the commune council's budget line
- continue to spread awareness to group representatives on how to join, raise issues and convince in commune and districts level meetings.
Children with disabilities have not received the same education as other children; it seems that there is a denial of access to education and development, as well as employment and dignity in society. The main challenge for children with disabilities in local education is that schools do not have ramps for easy access, toilets for children with disabilities or special education classes/schools and teachers with special education skills in the project target areas.
All schools in the nine target villages need to have ramps and handrails as well as toilets for students with disabilities, have at least one special education class in the target school and have teachers with special education skills.
Which stakeholders (NGO’s, government, private sector) did you identify as allies and how did you involve them?
School support committees, authorities, parent representatives, students, village health support groups, team leaders, mutual aid, representatives of people with disabilities, parents and guardians of students, school principals, teachers, representatives of relevant organisations and district education officials. We involved them through meetings.
Short description of the organisation implementing the action/campaign
Caritas Cambodia has two histories in the past 30 years. In 1970, the Catholic Church in Cambodia organised an Aid Commission to help the victims of war. The Aid Commission took the name of Caritas Cambodia that was recognised by Caritas International and accepted as a full-fledged member in 1973. This Caritas functioned till 17th April 1975, the date when Khmer Rouge took over the political power in Phnom Penh. Though after the Pol Pot Regime people who fled the country returned to their hometowns, practicing religion was fully banned under the Communist Regime. This continued till March 1990. In April 1990 freedom to practice religion was given to Cambodians. In the same year Caritas Cambodia recommenced. Since 2004, Caritas Cambodia’s management is Khmer.
1. All schools in the nine target villages have ramps and handrails to improve access for students with disabilities.
2. All schools in the nine target villages have special toilets for students with disabilities.
3. All schools in the nine target villages have at least one special education class.
4. All schools in the nine target villages have teachers with special education skills.
1. Three communes have constructed ramps for easier access to buildings, one of them at a school in Dom Dek District, Siem Reap province.
2. The principle of inclusiveness has been implemented at a target school.
3. No results mentioned.
4. We prepared a plan and letter to request the assignment of teachers from the Department of Education to train the principle of inclusiveness to local teachers and teacher assistants at the target school.
Description of preparatory activities
1. Organise meetings with school support committees, authorities, parent representatives, students, village health support groups, team leaders, mutual aid, representatives of people with disabilities, parents and guardians of students, school principals, teachers, representatives of relevant organisations and district education officials.
2. Meet in groups with school committees and parents to prepare plans to cooperate with local authorities in the implementation of principles and guidelines for students with disabilities at school.
3. Analyse and determine the contribution of stakeholders and make a planning for the construction and improvement of physical infrastructure in schools for disabled children.
4. Propose to include a budget in the development plan of the Department of Education and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports to improve the physical infrastructure to make it easier for people with disabilities in schools.
5. Publicity (request for a presentation at the Department of Education, Youth and Sports and Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports) for students with disabilities at school.
6. Set up a system of monitoring, evaluation, and reflection of all the activities agreed upon.
Description of implementation
1. We conducted two workshops with all provincial departments, developed a work plan together to push activities responding to the needs of children with disabilities at the primary school.
2. Caritas has conducted a meeting with the department of education, the school support committee, and parents to educate them about social inclusion, referral systems, safe migration and domestic violence. In addition, we have conducted a meeting to set up guidelines for a “Model Village” with local authorities, health center staff, pagoda committees, school committees and representatives of persons with disabilities, while also continuing to monitor the department of education and local authorities and their contribution to make physical infrastructure for people with disability in schools.
3. Prepare contract services and select the construction inspection committees and responsible persons while the activities are carried out in phases.
4. The commune council will integrate the activities mentioned into the 2023 commune investment plan at 3 target communes.
The Mobilising Support plan we developed during the Mobilising Support training was completed with good results. However, we are still facing a few challenges. Some parents do not pay much attention to their disabled child, or migrate and take the child elsewhere. And we still lack part of the ramps, materials and teachers with the skill to help disabled children. During the next step, Caritas will identify poor families with disabled children in a new target group, develop a proposal to work with disabled children who do not attend school, disseminate the rights of disabled to parents, teachers and local authorities and provide training to teachers who have to care for disabled children.