1. Preparing Professionals for the Education of Disabled People

    April 1, 2020 by admin

    Given as 2 Skype talks with Powerpoint presentations to the Caribbean Inclusive Education Conference at the University of West Indies, Kingston Jamaica on 10th and 11th March 2020 by Richard Rieser

    Preparing Professionals for the Education of Disabled People.

    Slide 2 What do International Agreements Say UNESCO Salamanca Statement 1994 agreed by 94 Governments and 20 INGOs. Committed to education for all in regular education system. Combats discrimination achieves an inclusive society also effective for the majority. No studies in the world show in properly organised inclusion non-disabled children do worse and quite a lot of evidence do better because of peer support.

    Slide 3 Article 24 UN CRPD. I was lucky enough to represent UK Disabled People’s Movement at Ad Hoc Committee 6,7 & 8, which finalised the negotiation of the UNCRPD. Education was hotly contested, with some of countries promoting choice of special segregated schools. These moves were defeated three times as being contrary to the human rights principle. The wording of Article 24 was largely devised and put forward by the International Disability Caucus which was divided on this issue, but eventually reached the compromise that is Article 24. The need for the UNCRPD had been disputed since 1981-Internatinal Yea of the Disabled. Only with Disability Awareness in Action working on behalf of Disabled People International collected and put forward 2.5 million examples of Disability Discrimination was the ned for the Convention accepted and Mexico and Ecuador put forward a motion at the General Assembly to start the process of developing a Convention that was finally agreed in December 2006 by the United Nations and came into force in 2008 when more than 20 countries had ratified it.

    Slide 4 the Sustainable Development Goals. In 2015 these replaced the Millennium Development Goals which had not mentioned disability. The sustainable Development Goals followed a huge global consultation and apply to all countries. Disability is in 7 of the Goals with 11 mentions and by implication is in all of them. The Secretary General has shown the World is falling well behind in implementation by 2030. Goal 4 is to “ensure inclusive quality education and promote life long learning opportunities for all’. Around 30 million disabled children do not attend basic education. A much larger number of disabled young people 270 million have not completed basic and secondary education and many more disabled adults are illiterate. Target 4A requires state parties to make all school infrastructure inclusive. 4.4 eliminate all discrimination; Target 4.2 create Equal Access to Quality Pre-Primary Schools and Target 4.1 free Primary and Secondary education for all.

    Slide 5 UNCRPD Committee, who are elected by the State Parties who have ratified the UNCRPD, currently 181.THE UNCRPD Committee has found, through its reporting system on country reports, that no country was fully implementing Article 24 on Inclusive Education. It resolved to hold a general day of discussion and produce a General Comment (No 4) on Article 24. This is the most important clarification of what is Inclusive Education in International Treaty Law.

    Slide 6 The UNCRPD is based on the paradigm shift from oppressive traditional, medical and charity views of disabled people which view us as objects to be fixed, normalised and cared for to subjects with human rights faced by barriers of attitude, environment and organisation that must be removed and replaced by solutions that include us and give us equal value and rights as disabled people. This cartoon by my fried Micheline Mason ‘You are the Problem’ identifies that everyone should become allies in our struggle for rights rather than fighting each other.

    Slide 7 The transformative way of thinking originated in the Disabled People’s Movement in the 1970s and early 1980s and was adopted in 1981 by the World Congress of Disabled People International in 1981. The Year before 400 disabled people had walked and wheeled out of the World Congress of Rehabilitation International as this was dominated by non-disabled professionals. They became the core of DPI. The focus shifted from trying to fix and normalise through special education to including. The system need to change not the individual and their impairment. To get this enshrined into International Law in 25 years is amazing. The big issue now is implementation which is predicated on bringing about a global shift in mind set.

    Slide 8 Translating this thinking into different types of education it can be seen that exclusion, segregation and various forms of integration do not fulfil this promise. Only inclusive provision where all children receive the support they need, the reasonable accommodations as we move to universal design and barrier free schools not just in the environment but in the curriculum and assessment. We need to move away from Grade systems to a child centred approach, where each child gets what they need to thrive. This means much training for educational professionals, attitudinal change for peers, community and education professional and government moving away from reliance on normative testing. It is not “one size fits all’ but ‘every size accommodated together’.

    Slide 9 School barriers to inclusion. The most important tool to bring about the transformation to inclusion, is that school communities learn to identify barriers to participation and achievement of all students in the locality and work collaboratively in finding and implementing solutions. Crucial to this is to recognise the building of positive relationships, friendship and acceptance in the school and community. I have carried out this activity in 100s of schools around the world and despite the different economic levels and cultures the barriers are very similar. Once the barriers are identified collectively it is easier to develop solution focused thinking to solve them.

    Slide 10 The Canadian Province of New Brunswick has for more than 20 years had a school system where all children go to regular mainstream schools. They have put extra resource into the mainstream saved by not having any segregated schools. They have found that Education Support Teachers who have received additional training should spend 60% of their time working with class teachers to change and review their practice to become more inclusive and effective. Only a quarter of their time is supporting individual disabled students. Each class has increasingly available universal accommodations and the Education Support teachers work with regular teachers on how to use these and other support accommodations to maximise each student’s learning.

    Slide 11 The parents’ dilemma. Should they listen to medical professionals with, often, outdated views about what their disabled child will be able to achieve or should they trust in their love of their child and become good allies in their struggle for human rights and inclusion.

    Slide 12 Maresa MacKeith was quadriplegic, non-verbal and used a wheelchair. The Local Authority had placed he in a special school for severe learning difficulties. Her mother was not sure this was right and searched for a means of communicating with her daughter. When Maresa was aged 12 her Mum found facilitated Communication and once she had learned to support Maresa in using a letter board she said ‘Get me out of here. I’m so bored’. Maresa a communication difficulty, not cognition. She could already read from watching the TV. Eventually after much campaigning Maresa when to a regular mainstream school with a facilitator . She had to point out every letter of her sentences. This took a long time., but with 6x the extra time a 3 hour exam was 18 hours she achieved the best grades the school had ever had. Maresa is now, having got a 2.1 degree in English, a poet and activist founding Quiet Revolution for young non -verbal people. Here is part of one of her poems.

  2. Inclusive Education in Malta

    by admin

    Malta has had a traditional single sex education system, based on streaming and selection. In the late 1990s moves began to a more inclusive, community-based system. On a recent visit to Malta connected with a meeting of the Executive Committee of the Commonwealth Disabled People’s Forum (of which I am General Secretary), I took some time to research and visit the University of Malta , a secondary school and meet with officers of the Education Department. On these later two I was accompanied by representatives of the Malta Federation of Organisations of Persons with Disabilities (MFOPD).

    Malta is a small county of 3 islands in the Mediterranean, some 80 miles south of Sicily. Its population -493,500 with 55,000 children of school age. It was a British Colony for 250 years with some cultural and structural similarities, but also differences, being more religious speaking Maltese, having strong national pride, focus on family and conservatism.

    Education is largely delivered through the compulsory system comprising state (150), church (34) and independent (18) schools. There are 3 resource centres which act as special schools since they receive students on a full time or part time basis. At a point in time the numbers of students attending these centres were reduced and the schools were dying a natural death however, the number of students attending full time or part time at these centres have greatly increased. It is said that children attend these resource centres full time due to parental choice, although this may be true for some (after being disappointed with the type of support their children received) other parents have no choice. Unfortunately the resource centres have retained the role of the special school and one cannot say that the “Investment in existing special schools should be geared to their new and expanded role of providing professional support to regular schools in meeting special educational needs” (Salamanca Statement, 1994, p.12-13) has taken place.

    Education is well resourced with 5.1% of GDP spent on education. The Average secondary class is 20. Since 2010 state schools organised through 10 geographic pyramidal Colleges and 1 on Gozo. Each College comprises a single Secondary school (Yr. 9,10, 11); 1 or 2 Middle schools (Yr. 7 & 8) and 6 to 10 Primary schools. In the church schools the state pays for the teachers’ salaries and recently also for support services. Parents are asked to make a voluntary financial contribution. In recent years state schools have become co-ed. The independent schools are fee paying schools. In 2014 a new Framework for Education Strategy for Malta 2014-2024 was launched to increase participation, support educational achievement, retention, community involvement and inclusion. A system of “banding” children into different classes was reintroduced at the end of year 4 (age 9yrs). The equivalent to the 11+ exam at the end of primary school was replaced by bench-mark exams in English, Maths and Maltese. The students move into middle schools and are ‘set’ according to the marks they obtained in these benchmark exams.

    Recent figures from the European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education EDSNIE show over 96% of those statemented attend mainstream inclusive classes. The Equivalent figure for England is 47.8%. The level of Statements is at around 5.5% in Malta compared to 3.5% in England. This figure is rather high. Rather than implementing inclusive pedagogies in class teachers tend to expect help from outside class usually in the figure of an LSE.

    Nearly all children go to their local school and attend age appropriate classes so out of a school population of 55,000 only 160 attend special school. There are, however, also resource bases developed around nurture group principles in primary schools and learning support zones in secondary, with specially trained teachers for social and emotional issues currently one for primary and 4 for secondary schools (Secondary school).
    In addition 32 children with significant autism will be attending a group 2 days a week with their Learning Support Educators (LSE) to undergo a TTEACH type programme. A foundation has been commissioned to offer this service. The effect of this provision is very low exclusions.

    The provision of LSEs is provided by a Statementing Board that schools and parents apply to for either full time, shared, or shared in the same class support. The Board is appointed by the Minister of Education made up of SEND professionals most of which are working within the education directorate. The LSEs are encouraged to attend University of Malta, Department for Inclusion and Access to Learning for training to gain a diploma, which has been recently upgraded to a degree. Other institutions are also offering training courses. One particular course is of dubious quality. Many of the older teachers have not undertaken effective training in inclusion. In recent years there has been a big increase in LSEs to 2800 for 3800 children using the bulk of growth of SEN budget despite rolls falling. The LSEs protest that there is not always the necessary teamwork between them and the teachers to facilitate the inclusion of all the students. The student with a statement of needs is considered to be the responsibility of the LSE.

    One issue with this system is that school students are said to ‘become dependent’ on their LSE and they are only allowed 1 year with the same LSE, usually not transferring phase to phase with them. A second problem is the disconnect between teachers and LSEs with any communication or planning being informal. There is no built-in timetable for reflection and planning. This undermines whole school approaches of collaboration. There seemed a willingness from teachers to learn what was necessary, not in a coherent pedagogy of inclusion but piecemeal around particular students needs. There is an Inclusion Manager from the Directorate of School Support who coordinates LSEs in several schools, is part of Leadership in schools, monitored practice, ensures Individual Education Plans are constructed, monitored and annually reviewed. The IEPs are in practice designed by the LSEs using a software package. The IEPs are designed according to the diagnosis, which is based on the medical, deficit model of disability.

    Dingli Secondary School in the North of Malta has 486 students on role with some 30 students with some form of LSE support (13 had 1:1). It was a spacious new build campus with lifts, wide corridors. The Principle explained that in the last two years they have introduced (as all secondaries have) a vocational/practical based curriculum for those more suited to it, alongside the academic. Training was arranged and a meeting with middle school teachers to sort out a lap top, raised diagrams and class teachers giving notes on a pen drive. He is now doing very well. We met Sheranice, a girl who use a rollator to get about. She used the lifts. She liked the school, had 2 best friends and seemed to have an ambivalent attitude to her LSE as she wanted to be more independent.

    We saw very well resourced, specialised areas for Hospitality- with a suite with a restaurant, kitchen and accommodation; Video and Communication/Photography, Food Lab, Textile, Craft, Electronics and Engineering areas. Other than the streamed Literacy, Maths and Science all other subjects in Year 9-11 we were told were mixed ability, though we think the banding still applied. Different weight is given to assessment through course work, projects and exams marks varying from 60% /40% to 40% /60%.

    In the Learning Support Zone (LSZ) children attend with parental permission for on going 2×2 hour sessions per week. Progress is measured on entry and end of year on Boxall profile. Focussed groups are run on appropriate behaviour, friendship and anti-bullying. The LSZ teacher and LSE can also work in whole mainstream classes, individual and group interventions with strong evidence of improved behaviour and children better dealing with social and emotional issues. A favourite was a ‘punch bag’ that was well used for getting rid of aggression.

    My conclusion largely coincides with the European Agency Audit carried out in 2014 and although various initiatives to improve things to a more inclusive approach have been launched in the period since the following issues remain largely the same:
    • The UN CRPD Article 24 has not been incorporated into Maltese Law;
    • The resourcing approach is largely deficit/medical model and not a human right approach particularly on the resourcing model of individual Statementing and need replacing by resourcing schools;
    • A narrow, results-based curriculum and assessment system, though recently modified still seems to dominate rather than teachers and schools collaboratively taking responsibility for the learning of all;
    • The need for schools to develop and take responsibility for involving all in Inclusive Education Policies;
    • All staff need twin-track accredited training on inclusion in general and impairment specifics accommodations for running an inclusive classroom.
    • Not allowing LSEs for more than 1 year destroys continuity and changing teachers and LSE’ each year is very disruptive
    • The Education Directorate needs to have regular meetings with MFODO to discuss issues before decisions are taken.
    • The need for whole school approach for academic progress through UDL and behaviour through evidence-based whole school positive behaviour support.
    • There should be more push in services into mainstream schools and classes rather than pull out
    • A primary focus of the inclusion process should be building relationships between non-disabled and disabled peers and more involvement of disabled individuals and their parents in decision making
    That said Malta has many examples of good inclusive practice, accessible schools and a willingness to improve practice, which should embarrass the former colonial power -the United Kingdom, whose Government seems determined to reverse Inclusion in England.

  3. My Right is Our Future: The Transformative Power of Disability

    May 13, 2019 by admin

    My Right is Our Future

    2016-2018 CMB consultancy working with Ingrid Lewis of EENET to help develop the resource My Rights Our Future: The Transformative Power of Disability-Inclusive Education.

    Available in English and German 176 pages. Colour printed. PDFs Below:

    English version
    German version

  4. Developing Inclusive Education and Disability Equality : A World of Inclusion Broadsheet for Global Summit July 2018

    July 20, 2018 by Richard Rieser

    Developing Inclusive Education and Disability Equality for children and students with disabilities

  5. 2011 Developing the Capacity of Disabled People’s Organisations in South Pacific Commonwealth Island Countries with regard UNCRPD

    February 2, 2018 by Richard Rieser

    Trainers: Richard Rieser, Lucy Mason , Angeline Chand assisted by Moeva Rinaldo
    Grandville Motel, Port Moresby PNG
    24th to 29th January 2011
    South Pacific Island Countries of the Commonwealth Disabled Peoples Agenda -1South Pacific Island Countries of the Commonwealth Disabled Peoples Agenda

    Copy of Developing the Capacity of Disabled People 16 pt

  6. Workshop and Keynote at ICSE 2017, Malaysia

    August 24, 2017 by admin

    Richard Rieser gave a keynote and a workshop at ICSE 2017 – the 2nd International Conference on Special Education at the Borneo Convention Centre, Kuching, 31st July – 2nd August 2017.

    Download the powerpoint for the workshop [General Comment 4 Article 24] here.

    Download the powerpoint for the keynote [Inclusive Education for the 21st Century] here.

  7. Schools in Dhaka

    March 24, 2017 by admin

    Richard Rieser gave three presentations at the 4th International Conference on Inclusive Education which ran 12–14 January in Dhaka, Bangladesh. These can be viewed here.

    We visited several schools in the Dhaka area, each working towards different inclusive practices, documentation of which is below.

    Following this, we visited PLAN International, who are working on a large scale project in cooperation witht the Bangladesh Government. They have documented this in the following film:

  8. Dhaka, Bangladesh

    February 8, 2017 by admin

    Richard Rieser gave three presentations at the 4th International Conference on Inclusive Education which ran 12–14 January in Dhaka, Bangladesh. See below.
    Programme of conference can be found at https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1691dOSMKGDaG9pRnlIZWp1aGc/view

    We visited several schools in the Dhaka area, each working towards different inclusive practices, documentation of which will follow.

    Inclusive Education: The Challenge of Implementation

    Download powerpoint presentation here

    Understanding and Implementing UNCRPD Committee General Comment on Article 24: Inclusive Education

    Download powerpoint presentation here

    Challenging Disablist Violence, Harrassment and Violence in Education

    Download powerpoint presentation here

    Inclusive Education in Bangladesh Richard Rieser

  9. 10th Anniversary of UNCRPD, Geneva

    November 1, 2016 by Richard Rieser

    Speeches by Richard Rieser at Social Forum on the 10th Anniversary of UNCRPD Geneva 3-5th October 2016

  10. CRPD Committee Day – Paper on Article 24

    March 26, 2015 by Richard Rieser

    CRPD Committee Day of General Discussion on Article 24 – Education
    15th April 2015

    Paper from Richard Rieser on behalf of World of Inclusion and Disabled People International
    Article 24 and the development of inclusive education for disabled people

    See speeches by Agnes van Winjen (In School), Richard Rieser (World of Inclusion), Paula Hunt, Juan Cobenas Azul (Argentina)

    See the Speech from Diane Richler from Inclusion International to the Committee