Africa-Press – Mauritius. The Vice-Prime Minister, Minister of Education, Tertiary Education, Science and Technology, Mrs Leela Devi Dookun-Luchoomun, highlighted the need to foster a schooling system where all learners including those with special needs are accepted for all their individual characteristics.
She was speaking, this morning, at the launching of the first edition of a Symposium on Inclusion and Special Education Needs, organised by the Special Education Needs Authority (SENA), at Côte d’Or National Sports Complex.
The three-day Symposium is focusing on ‘Harmonising and Promoting Programmes and Policies in inclusive and Special Education Needs’. The Director of SENA, Mr D. Authelsingh; the Chairperson of SENA, Mrs S. Oogarah; key stakeholders of the SEN sector; and other personalities were present.
In her address, the Vice-Prime Minister highlighted that inclusion cannot be seen from a narrow perspective and recalled that the theme of the Symposium is in line with Government’s and her Ministry’s policy to work towards transforming the education sector into a more inclusive one.
She also spoke about the education reform agenda which is central in making the education system more equitable, more inclusive and more resilient. According to Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun, it is necessary to ensure that the education system responds to the needs of learners no matter what their pace of learning.
Today, it is simply not acceptable that learners should be compelled to adjust to our structures and therefore it is important to have a system which accommodates them and which clearly welcomes them given that they have diverse needs, she indicated.
It is our responsibility to take all of them on board and that we give them the necessary support, she underlined. In addition, the Vice-Prime Minister emphasised that the SEN’s inclusive agenda concerns all stakeholders as well as NGOs and thus the need to work collaboratively in that sector.
She moreover highlighted the importance of professional development in the field and the development of new teaching practices. As regards the rights approach, Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun stated that the child has the right to access quality education and for that to materialise we have to strengthen our training network to benefit the personnel of the SEN sector comprising the Head of School, Manager, Educators and Carers.
The SENA and the Mauritius Institute of Education are working to better support the personnel of the SEN sector to ensure the delivery of quality education to learners with special needs, she added.
The three-day symposium, facilitated by speakers coming from Canada, Iran and the United States, aims at sharing best practices and experience in the SEN sector.
Presentations are focusing on amongst others: critical thinking in teaching and learning in the SEN sector; promoting equity and inclusion; complementary approaches and therapy for SEN learners; challenges towards inclusion for persons with disabilities; and causes and consequences of burnout in SEN teachers.
Discussions and roundtables are addressing the following: reflections on reimagining the SEN sector to foster lifelong learning and empower young learners; and ethical practices for equity and inclusion and skilling the youth in the SEN sector.
A Seminar on ‘Inclusive education – Education perspectives’, is also scheduled. An exhibition by service providers in the SEN sector is also being held at the venue.
Exhibitors are from namely: CEDEM; Laventure technical school for disabled; Handicapped Association SEN school; Society for the welfare of the Deaf; Terre de Paix; Association des malades et des handicapés de l’Est; La Fraternité mauricienne des malades et handicapés; and, Association of disability service providers.