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Government, NGO launch disabled children teaching manual

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Prime Minister Hun Sen greets people with disabilities at a presentation marking the anniversary of a law aimed at protecting their rights at Koh Pich Island in Phnom Penh in 2014. Heng Chivoan

Government, NGO launch disabled children teaching manual

The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport and Save the Children have created a manual to help teachers in the education of children with disabilities. The move is designed to help get nearly 55,000 disabled youngsters in schools.

At the launch of the National Manual on Teaching Children with Disabilities in the capital on Friday, Out Sarang, education programme manager for Save the Children, said the new manual included more detailed technical programmes in the field.

“The ministry has previously published some guidelines, but they were not so detailed, with Khmer language and maths teachers not knowing how best to teach children with disabilities. This new manual now supplies them with up-to-date techniques,” he said.

The ministry has worked with relevant NGOs to help 54,838 children with disabilities enrol in school, according to its 2018 report.

Sarang said Friday’s launch came after the National Manual on Teaching Children with Disabilities was recognised by Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron in May last year.

Thorng Rithy, the director of the ministry’s Special Education Department, said it is a first for Cambodia to have this type of manual to advise teachers as to how best to support children with intellectual disabilities.

A 2010 national survey by the ministry found that more than 10 per cent of children aged between two and nine years had an impairment, especially in cognition, hearing and speech.

However, this is thought to be below the true figure, due in part to the fact that children’s impairments are frequently not adequately recognised or treated.

“Before, we had regulations concerning the education of children with disabilities, but with this manual, we now have specific guidance,” Rithy said.

Elizabeth Pearce, country director of Save the Children in Cambodia, said: “The manual provides clear guidance on how to teach children with intellectual and learning disabilities and autism who are at risk of being left behind in the education system.

“Inclusive education for children with disabilities will now be available for all Cambodian families and communities.”

Save the Children has been working to familiarise teachers and educational authorities from provincial and district offices of education on key topics, such as how to manage the behaviour of children with disabilities and how to teach them, and how to develop an individual child support plan.

Other NGOs involved in the development of the manual are also to use it to support children with disabilities.

Pearce said the next step is to ensure the manual is integrated into Ministry of Education policy so it can be rolled out across the country to benefit all children with intellectual disabilities.

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