An educational impression of Indonesia by Aldo de Pape
This week is the Global Action Week on Education and Disability – UNESCO and its #TeacherTuesday bloggers, use this period to look into how inclusive schools in Indonesia are in the education of disabled pupils.
An estimated 1 billion people live with a disability – comprising approximately 15% of the global population. It is estimated that 93 million of these are children – or 1 in 20 of those aged up to 14 years of age – living with a moderate or severe disability. In most low- and middle-income countries, children with disabilities are more likely to be out of school than any other group of children; even if they do attend school, children living with disabilities are often more likely to drop out and leave school early. In some countries, having a disability can more than double the chance of a child not being in school, compared to their non-disabled peers. 
Siti is a special technical academic assistance teacher to children with disabilities in a normal elementary school in West Java. Many educators like her have tried to change the paradigm of inclusive education and try to make schools more accessible to children with a disability.
“There’s a misperception by teachers sometimes – they deny the students with disabilities and just send them to special schools. Some schools will only receive a limited number of children with disabilities every year. There are many children with disabilities who are not in school.”
The children who are disabled in Siti’s school suffer from ADHD or have Down syndrome. A lot of stories on how they end up having an education have to come from personal testimonials rather than from any concrete statistics, making it very difficult for others to help.
“In my school there are no drop outs, but in general there is no accurate data on how many children are dropping out and how many cannot access school because of their disability. Even the government does not have data on that.”
UNESCO research indicates that a lack of data on people with disabilities is severely constraining the ability of the international community to monitor the situation of children, youth and adults with disabilities. Current data does not allow for in-depth understanding of the cross cutting disadvantages faced by girls and women with disabilities. There has been insufficient attention to the need to collect data on disabilities and link them to education outcomes.
The same can be said for how teachers are trained to teach children with disabilities in schools.
Siti testifies: “It is still true that at district level there is no systematic training for teachers in teaching children with disabilities. My school has an initiative to have a sort of press conference to look at case by case in schools of each students – to assess and identify each child’s disability.The in-house training at my school is twice a week. This is independently organised by the school and is training given by friends who have experience, a sort of network of other teachers. It’s very informal. There is no systematic training for teachers to improve their skills and knowledge, but some areas, such as West Java do have some programmes.”
Even though there is still a lot of work to be done on a central level, Siti acknowledges that progress is made on the individual skills-set of a teacher to help disabled children. A lot can be learned from the direct advice that teachers are giving each other. Through our learning community TeachPitch, we hope that teachers like Siti are able to exchange ideas with each other on how to raise children with a disability and how to make a school as inclusive as possible.
Siti’s advice: “Teachers must first work out what the exact learning barriers the children in their class are facing so that they can help with their learning. They must get to know each student. The second advice is to make sure they know about inclusive education so all children are learning. My hope for the future is that there will be no such label as special inclusive schools as instead all schools in Indonesia will be inclusive!
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This is the last of a series of ten educational impressions launched and executed in collaboration with UNESCO. Find out more about the #TeacherTuesday campaign on the UNESCO website directly.
 Homepage of campaignforeducation.org: Education and Disability