UNIMAK Meeting the Educational Special Needs of Children with Disability

Vice-Chancellor Fr Joe Turay addressing the Opening Session of the Training

Vice-Chancellor Fr Joe Turay addressing the Opening Session of the Training

The Institute of Inclusive Special Needs Education (ISNE) UNIMAK was happy to welcome 35 Participants to a training for mainstream teachers on Inclusive Special Needs Education. The training took place from the 21st to 31st July 2015. This was to give training to the mainstream teacher’s supported by Plan Sierra Leone in The Bombali District, Northern Province. It was sponsored by Plan International Sierra Leone and funded by Irish Aid.

Mr. Frank Velthuizen from Plan International Ireland and the Participants

Mr. Frank Velthuizen from Plan International Ireland

This training was held at the University of Makeni, being the only University in Sierra Leone to offer Special Education Needs Training since 2005. Last year the launching of the Institute of Inclusive Special Needs Education (ISNE) was honored by the presence of the Minister of Education’s own representative and the representative of the Minister of Social Welfare.

This occasion brought about appreciation of UNIMAK’s initiative in supporting the future education of Special Needs Teachers for the many children with disability in Sierra Leone.

Practical exercises in the training

Practical exercises in the training

The Institute team members who implemented The Plan International Sierra Leone training were Sr. Mary Sweeney, Mrs. Umu Turay, Mr. Andrew Dumbuya, Mr. Samuel Sesay, Mr. Siddie Kanu and Mr. Albert Sandy. This was a two weeks intensive training preparing teachers for the Inclusive Education Policy that the Government of Sierra Leone is in the process of enacting.

UNIMAK Staff and Plan International Ireland

UNIMAK Staff and Plan International Ireland

Plan International’s request for this training was timely and having the status of a university give an added quality to their certificate. Teachers took pride in being the first mainstream teachers to have had a university stamped certificate of quality. They felt ready and able to support the new Government policy for inclusive education, about to be inaugurated in Sierra Leone. The participants were very enthusiastic and enjoyed the interactive methods used. They could experience and analyze cultural beliefs and the challenges children with disability face in life and in learning. The group was a joy to work with.
Fatmata a participant was interviewed on local radio and one of our UNIMAK B. Ed students came to express his amazement at Fatmata’s knowledge and ability to name all types on the whole spectrum of disability. He found it amazing that only after two weeks training she had so much knowledge.

Plan International staff, UNIMAK staff and Participants

Plan International staff, UNIMAK staff and Participants

In May, Dr. Mary Hodges Director of HKI felt that Hannah Pessima was ready to expand her experience working with the disabled as Program Officer for five years. The Institute of Inclusive Special Needs Education were looking for an experienced Coordinator for ISNE. Hannah Pessima was approached to take up the challenge of coordinating, managing the Programs and activities of ISNE. She is now actively involved with all the administrative affairs of The Institution. Hannah is now pursuing the Blind and Low Vision Certificate course. Her five years’ experience working with HKI was a great help during the training and made for easy communication with Plan Coordinator Mr. Kellie. Mr. Frank Velthuizen who came from Plan International Ireland, an expert in Inclusive Education was of great support and his skills were greatly appreciated.

Certification of the Training

Certification of the Training

We look forward to UNIMAK being able to offer training for all categories of disabilities. We hope that experts in SNE will volunteer to come and support and build up the capacity for teachers of children with learning disability. Anyone with this expertise and the possibility of coming to give some input to students, teachers, facilitators and lecturers of the Institute would be truly welcome.

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