In this short interview Purna Kumar Shrestha, Global Education Lead, Voluntary Services Overseas International (VSO) talks about the VSO project in Ghana ‘Tackling Education Needs Inclusively (TENI)‘. TENI aims to improve the quality of education received by more than 50,000 children in northern Ghana. The programme is specifically focused on girls and disabled children. TENI will work with government, community leaders, education professionals and civil society to improve the retention and performance of children in primary school. It will improve the supply and skills of teachers and work with district assemblies to improve the coordination and implementation of education initiatives. It will also address the socio-economic barriers at household and community level, and improve the livelihoods of women so they are better able to support their children to go to school.
Punra explains that from the research that was done in Ghana, it was clear that teachers did not understand inclusive education. They did not have adequate skills to assist children with disabilities, which resulted in the education of those children being compromised. Teacher training can improve outcomes significantly. To overcome the lack of understanding about inclusive learning, in September 2014, HEART launched an Inclusive Learning Topic Guide. Inclusive learning is the result of effective teaching practice, an adapted learning environment and teaching approaches which ensure that all children are included, engaged and supported. The Guide brings together evidence on what works in inclusive learning for children aged 3 to 12 years with disabilities and/or difficulties in learning in low and middle income countries, and explores the role of inclusive approaches in contributing to inclusive societies and ultimately inclusive growth. 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.
VSO’s work revolves around four development areas, linked to the priorities of their partners, international development targets and their areas of expertise. These are health, participation and governance, secure livelihoods and education. VSO are committed to gender equality in their work so that men and women have equal opportunities to realise their potential. VSO believes that putting people at the heart of development is the only way to make a real difference in the world. VSO supports disadvantaged communities by bringing their stories and experience to the attention of the public and decision-makers worldwide. They undertake advocacy locally, nationally and internationally to bring about positive change to policies and practices. VSO works with local partners to bring about long-term change. They also work with global corporate partners to inspire and develop their staff and at the same time increase VSO’s impact in the fight against poverty. VSO’s knowledge sharing programmes give people the chance to visit or work in another country to learn and share good practice with other agencies. Activities can include study tours, themed workshops, and in-country partner exchanges.
The hashtag #IncEd4dev can be used to join in the conversation with others who have accessed the guide. Relevant twitter accounts include: