Guy Le Fanu is the education advisor for Sightsavers, an international development organisation working in the fields of health, education and social inclusion. His work involves overseeing education projects for children with disabilities in sub-Saharan Africa, India, and South Asian.
In this interview, Guy talks about the recently published HEART Inclusive Learning Topic Guide, for which he provided a number of case studies. He highlights that when we’re talking about children with learning disabilities, we are not just talking about children in mainstream schools, but also children in special schools, and that we need to be thinking about inclusive learning from early childhood onwards. There is not enough research on what works and doesn’t work in different educational settings and country contexts, for different educational impairments. Some countries in West and Central Africa or conflict-affected States are particularly lacking in evidence. We need to have a more comprehensive understanding, and to know more both about generic approaches but also specific approaches which will benefit specific types of impairment.
Inclusive learning can be as a result of effective teaching practice, an adapted learning environment and teaching approaches which ensure that all children are included, engaged and supported. Inclusive learning is defined in the Topic Guide as ‘the result of effective teaching practice, an adapted learning environment and teaching approaches which ensure that all children are included, engaged and supported’. The Topic Guide addresses some of the contested and debated issues around terminology, labelling, and segregated, integrated and inclusive schooling; reviews the limited evidence that exists from low and middle income countries around the outcomes of inclusive learning and identifies future research directions.
Sightsavers supports the development of inclusive education provision for children with disabilities in low income countries. In order to maximise the sustainability of our work, we promote cost-effective and context-sensitive education provision, seek to strengthen existing education systems, and work with a range of local partners.
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