To address the exclusion of children with disabilities, the project of Ability Bhutan (ABS) trained 26 ECCD facilitators and 3 primary school teachers from Pemagatshel district to enrol and provide early intervention services to children with disabilities in their centres.
One of Bhutan’s challenges is ensuring that all children with special educational needs and disabilities receive appropriate education and social services. Poor awareness of current resources, negative attitudes, and negative cultural beliefs about disabilities still persist in communities. Besides, most parents/caregivers and community workers don’t realize the importance of early intervention and miss out on the golden opportunity to reduce the impact of disability.
First Training in Pemagatshel
Eventually, Pemagatshel district instead of Trashiyangtse was selected, based on the UNICEF disability statistics report 2021 which implies the disability prevalence rate in Pemagatshel is about 2.8 % which ranks 6th amongst 20 districts. The training was conducted from 25th to 27th June 2023 at Nganglam Dungkhag (sub-district).
For almost 90 % of the participants it was their first time attending a disability training emphasizing on early childhood intervention and disability inclusion.
The training covered sessions on the understanding disabilities (disability definition, types of disability, causes and prevention of disability), disability models, myths/facts towards children with disabilities, developmental milestones, community inclusion, importance of early intervention, strategies for early intervention training for children with disabilities, key services of providers of early intervention in Bhutan, behavioral management, referral mechanism, and child protection for children with disabilities.
Ability Bhutan could reach out to all the ECCD Facilitators and three primary school teachers in Pemagatshel. However, most of the participant ( 26 Female and 3 male) were female, as a caregiving profession is still female dominated in Bhutan. One of the key achievements was that ABS was able to connect ECCD Facilitators with the Special Education Needs (SEN) coordinators in schools, so that they can work out a smooth transition of children with disabilities from ECCD centers to School with SEN programs.