INTEGR8, a programme of the Christian charity Through the Roof, has launched a project to help disabled children. UNESCO statistics suggest that 98 per cent of children with disabilities in developing countries do not receive an education.
The project, a trip to India to train teachers on the inclusion of disabled children in education, worked in partnership with the Bishop of Dornakal, Andhra Pradesh in the Church of South India, Dr Satyanandam Devamani; and also with Agape Ministries in the city of Chennai (Madras).
It is hoped that informal mentoring and inclusive resources provided by the charity will raise standards in special education, introduce new techniques and ideas, and encourage schools to increase their intake of disabled pupils.
Integr8 recruited Christian professionals to teach on the value of disabled people, and hold practical workshops. A young disabled woman shared her experiences, and teachers discussed problems and solutions.
As a result of the training, teachers are better equipped to provide such children with appropriate education.
In Chennai, training and resources were delivered to representatives from nine Christian ministries involved in educating disabled young people. All those taking part made a commitment to meet quarterly as a fellowship network.
The project provided training for more than 120 teachers, leaders, and community workers, and feedback was positive. One headteacher said: “We can implement these methods in our school from now on”. Another commented: “I am going to concentrate more on disabled children.” If each of the trainees use their new skills and understanding to help just five disabled children, Integr8 says, the trip will have benefited 600.
The charity plans to return to India in 2009 to train new teachers and build on initial training. In addition, this project will inform and shape trips to other destinations — beginning with one to Guatemala.
Tim Wood is development manager of Through the Roof.