Paul Lynch is an expert on the educational inclusion of children with visual impairment and complex needs. His research is mainly focused on children in Southern and Eastern Africa.
In this interview, Paul Lynch discusses early childhood development and education of children with visual impairment. His research has found that parents often do not realise that they can send their children with visual impairment to school. More research is needed to establish what the issues are that prevent children from going to school and staying in school. Parents may be worried about exposing their children to the community and to the school. Schools must also be prepared for the arrival of children with visual impairment and other disabilities.
Paul argues that there is still a place for specialist schools to support the inclusion of children with disabilities. Many specialist schools have better resources and capacity to provide education to children with disabilities. We need to consider how to increase access to these schools. Teachers from specialist schools can share their expertise with teachers from mainstream schools, to help improve their knowledge base.
HEART has recently published two Topic Guides, one on Early Childhood Development (ECD) and one on Inclusive Education. The Topic Guides are resource guides relating to health, education and nutrition topics. They provide a synthesis of the key current issues and debates as well as links to essential readings.
ECD has become a priority for research, policy and programming, at national and global level, with increasing recognition of the interconnections between a nation’s development goals and the quality of services for all young girls and boys, and their families. The term ‘ECD’ is increasingly being used to reflect the evidence that young children’s survival, health, care and learning involves interconnected and dynamic growth processes from well before the infant is born through into their early school years. ECD is thus a broad and complex field, covering multiple policy sectors, and diverse research traditions, but with the aspirations of constructing more inter‐sectoral, and more integrated models of services delivery.
The ECD Topic Guide offers brief summaries of key research, evaluations and case studies, as well as links to more specialist resources relevant to this vision for ECD. It draws on a very broad range of published research and policy studies, spanning health; nutrition; water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH); social protection; and education. It includes experimental trials of innovative programmes as well as policy reports on systemic reform.
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.
About the speaker
Dr Paul Lynch is a Research Fellow at the School of Education, University of Birmingham. He joined the School of Education 2006 to take up a three-year research post as a research fellow in the Visual Impairment Centre for Teaching And Research (VICTAR) centre. He is working on a Sightsavers International funded project studying the educational inclusion of children with visual impairment in developing countries. This involves establishing an evidence base demonstrating the effectiveness of different educational models of education for children with blindness and low vision in developing countries. Paul’s PhD research explored the potential role of inclusive learning environments in promoting effective learning for visually impaired adults through the exploration of e-learning and assistive technology.
The hashtag #ECD4dev can be used to join in the conversation with others who have accessed the ECD Topic Guide.
The hashtag #IncEd4dev can be used to join in the conversation with others who have accessed the Inclusive Education Topic Guide.
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