Training teachers is key to helping children with disabilities says British charity

Teachers and learning

Thomas Palmer, International Policy and Campaigns Officer for Leonard Cheshire Disability, tells how the UK-based charity supports people around the world with physical and learning disabilities to fulfil their potential and live the lives they choose.

Kazi Mahamuda Parvin at her school in Bangladesh Picture: Leonard Cheshire Disability

The challenges facing children with disabilities in accessing quality education were a striking finding of this year’s UNESCO’s Education For All Global Monitoring Report (GMR).

Launched in February, the comprehensive and highly regarded GMR has, for the first time, highlighted issues affecting children with disabilities.

The report gave recognition to the challenges that children with disabilities face, both with being admitted to school in the first place and, for those admitted, with getting the support they need in school.

It’s clear that, if children with intellectual disabilities are ignored, we will not succeed in getting all of the remaining 57 million without an education into school and learning – and the Millennium Development Goal of Universal Primary Education will not be reached.

Leonard Cheshire Disability regularly encounters these challenges – and the importance of supporting teachers in addressing them – in our education work, which so far has helped more than 10,000 disabled children in Africa and Asia receive a quality education.

One teacher who can testify to this is Kazi Mahamuda Parvin, an assistant teacher at Shakamachha Bazar Government Primary School in Bangladesh. 

She went through LCD’s Inclusive Education training. Parvin admitted: “Before that I had a very limited idea about how to teach disabled children.

“Like many other teachers, I used to think that the presence of children with disabilities might hamper the overall learning environment in the class.

“I had never received training on Braille or sign language. The day-long training on each of them organised by the project has really helped me and my colleagues to teach children with disabilities.”

Parvin now takes care of 16 children with disabilities in her school – 14 of whom were involved in the annual school sports competition.

In Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, Leonard Cheshire has helped train more than 3000 teachers like Parvin on the accommodation of children with disabilities in their classes.

However, it is clear that this type of work needs to be scaled up if we are to make the recommendations of the report a reality for all children with disabilities without primary education:

  • The right teachers must be selected to reflect the diversity of the children they will teach
  • Teachers must be trained to support the weakest learners
  • The best teachers should be assigned to teach where the most challenges exist
  • Governments must provide teachers with incentives to encourage them to ensure all children are learning

Leonard Cheshire Disability’s work with Parvin is one example of the impact that can be made in changing attitudes and making disabled children’s right to education a reality.

Our inclusive education projects are proof of the GMR’s recommendations in action, that we can address the lack of adequately trained teachers, and that we can make a decent primary school education a reality for all children.


You can learn more about how to create A World at School for children with disabilities and The Special Olympics’ approach on our Google Hangout on Monday, February 23 at 11am EST/4pm UK.

David Evangelista from The Special Olympics will be joined by panellists Chernor Bah of A World at School, Rolando Villamero Jr. of the Youth Advocacy Group and Leonard Cheshire Disability.

Please click here to sign up and register.

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