ICEVI Promotes Inclusive Education in Tajikistan

A team of Mr. Hans Welling, Chairperson, ICEVI Europe and Mr. Bhushan Punani, Chairperson, ICEVI West Asia paid maiden visit to Tajikistan during 22nd to 28th September, 2008 on the invitation of the  Tajikistan Association of the Blind, Dushanbe. The purpose of this visit was to study the existing services for the persons with visual impairment and to propose a strategy for promoting appropriate education and comprehensive rehabilitation on behalf of the ICEVI. During this visit, the officials had discussion with concerned officials of the TAB, other leading organizations, concerned Ministries; visited leading schools and other educational institutes for the visually impaired and enterprises for the blind; observed Braille production facilities; and conducted a Round Table Conference with the state-holders and organized a feedback session.

Identification of Areas of Priority: The visiting team identified areas of priority as involvement of concerned Ministries in promotion of education of children with visual impairment, capacity building of teachers, introduction of low vision services, launching of EFAVI campaign, seeking support for modernization of Braille Press, establishing of assistive devices bank etc. The utmost priority should be organizing a teacher training course and training of Master Trainers in low vision. It was agreed that certain schools for children with visual impairment may be used for this purpose so that accommodation and training facilities could be provided at affordable cost. Efforts may also be made to invite the visiting faculty from the neighbouring countries. The outcome of this visit was modernization of Braille Press with the support of donor agencies from Europe.

Sensitization of CBR Officials: A team of CBR Officials from Tajikistan visited CBR Project in Gujarat during 29th November to 3rd December, 2012. The team was led was Ms. Andrea Vogt, Country Director Operation Mercy, Tajikistan. The other members of delegation were Government officials from Ministry of Health and Social Protection and Agency of MLSP in Tajikistan. The group observed, “The main focus of the “Education for all” programme in Gujarat is clearly to make mainstream schools inclusive. However we also saw an example of a special school, with a small number of boarders and disabled day students that was turned into an inclusive school. Which could cater especially for children with more severe disabilities. While this is not a model that is talked about a lot and should not the area of our main attention, it might be an answer to some of the transition process for the existing institutions in Tajikistan”.  The group also observed successful implantation of community based rehabilitation, inclusive education, teacher training and shift from special education to inclusive education with the support and participation of Government.

Orientation of Officials of Ministry of Health: The World Health Organization (WHO) in partnership with Ministry of Health and Social Protection, Republic of Tajikistan is implementing a disability rehabilitation program in Tajikistan for development of National Rehabilitation Policy, system, services with focus on Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) and Human Resource Development (HRD). WHO sent a team of high ranking Officers from Tajikistan with the  goal of the visit being to build the capacity of the Ministry in initiating Govt. run and managed CBR programs with an objective to orient participants on governance and services that can contribute in achieving qualitative rehabilitation for persons with disabilities. The high-level delegation (7 members) from Tajikistan visited Gujarat from 23-26 February, 2015 namely Ms. Sodiqova Dilorom, Adviser of the Minister, Ministry of Health and Social Protection; Mr. Rahmatulloev Sherali, Head of the Department of Mother, Child and Family planning, Ministry of Health and Social Protection; Mr. Kurbanov Qudratullo, Head of the Department of Social protection, Ministry of Health and Social Protection; Mr. Kholov Abdulkhalim, Head of State agency on Social Protection, Ministry of Health and Social Protection; Mr. Kalandarov Safo, Project Associate, World Health Organization, Tajikistan;  Mr. Satish Mishra, Technical Officer, Disability and Rehabilitation, World Health Organization, Tajikistan. The ICEVI West Asia organized their visit to  CBR programs run by the Blind People’s Association and had meetings with all the relevant Officials in the departments of health and social justice. It motivated the visiting officials to promote comprehensive services for persons with visual impairment and to follow WHO CBR Guidelines in their country.

Participation in International Seminar on Ophthalmology: The Ministry of Health and Social Protection, Tajikistan and World Health Organization invited Dr. Bhushan Punani, Chairperson, ICEVI West Asia to attend First International Conference on Ophthalmology held in Dushanbe during 27-28 November, 2015. The aim of the congress was to strengthen health care system for persons with blindness and low vision. He also made a plenary presentation on importance of assessment of children with low vision. He also shared activities of ICEVI in respect of promotion of education of children with visual impairment. He also conducted one day workshop of the professionals and workers in the field of CBR in respect of effectiveness of WHO CBR Guidelines.

Evaluation of Inclusive Education: The Association for Aid and Relief, Japan has been promoting inclusive education of children with disabilities in Dushanbe. The ICEVI was invited to assist this AAR, an initiative of Government of Japan to support it for conducting an evaluation on its approach on inclusive education. Dr. Bhushan Punani represented ICEVI during this evaluation conducted during 18-24 December, 2016. During this visit, he conducted a seminar on inclusive education for Directors from all schools in Dushanbe promoting inclusive education. He shared the need for promotion services on assessment, child preparatory and school readiness for such children. He also conducted a Workshop for the staff of kindergarten and parents in respect of importance of role of parents in supporting child preparatory services at such kindergarten.

The exciting workshop was on “Role of Special Schools for the Promotion of Inclusive Education” for the staff and parents of Boarding School at Dushanbe. This Workshop could dispel the pre-conceived notion of the teachers and parents that promotion of inclusive education would result into closure of boarding schools. The participants appreciated the concept of role of boarding schools in respect of providing services of low vision assessment, low vision devices, child preparatory services, schools readiness services, supply of Braille Books and Talking Books teacher preparation.

To promote involvement of University in promotion of inclusive education, a Workshop on the Role of University in Promotion of Inclusive Education was conducted for the staff and students of Tajik State National University. A large number of students from the faculty of Social Work participated in the same and understood the concept of inclusive development. Similarly a Workshop for the officials of City Education Department provided the opportunity of seeking involvement and participation of Government officials for the promotion of inclusive education.

Thus ICEVI has been supporting and guiding concept of early intervention, assessment of low vision children, provision of low vision devices, implementing child preparatory services, sensitization of teachers, Government officials and other service providers.

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