September 18, 2017
A group of young Japanese teachers left Japan to help expand opportunities for children with special needs in Iloilo Province.
Yuko Obuchi supports transition education for special children helping them make mats using recycled clothes and enhancing their culinary skills at Maasin Elementary School SPED Center. The children sell their products in their school to earn income and learn about money concepts.
Obuchi is a para-sports instructor and special education specialist from Nihon University who is working with other Japanese special education teachers Kana Shimizu, Yui Uneme, and Momoe Nishizaki. They are all Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV), under JICA's Volunteer Program, working in Iloilo's SPED schools.
"What we're doing is we are trying to benchmark the SPED teaching practices in our place of assignment to build connection with SPED teachers, deepen knowledge on SPED, and look for teachers who can share teaching practices with other teachers. This way, SPED teachers would also realize the importance of learning from others," said Momoe Nishizaki, assigned in Passi 1 Central School SPED Center, also in Iloilo Province.
Nishizaki also guides special needs children how to make pineapple jams. She also suggests teaching materials and new activities on fine motor skills and other self-help activities (changing clothes or livelihood) to special children.
Meantime, Kana Shimizu dispatched at the Raul OV Causing Memorial School said, "Through self-help activities, we hope to increase opportunities of Filipino children with special needs and help them cope with daily life by being independent."
The Japanese teachers also talk to parents and teachers, and encourage them to know more about special education and disabilities. "I hope this activity will also help parents because they tend to blame themselves due to lack of information," shared Yui Uneme who is supporting the SPED program of more than 60 students with different disabilities in Tigbauan Central Elementary School.
"We want to help create an environment where special needs children learn how to become independent and self-sustaining and would not feel limited in terms of opportunities," added Uneme.
At Tigbauan Central Elementary School, special children like Cheryl, John, Frank, and Nathaniel quietly craft a dream catcher made of wire, yarn, and beads that they sell to visitors in their school. Originally a symbolic charm meant to take care and protect children, their dream catchers show that children with special needs are free to dream and are capable to go beyond their limits.
Young Japanese teacher volunteers, from left, Kana Shimizu, Yui Uneme, Passi City DepEd Division Superintendent Maura Pait, SPED Teacher Roselyn Ausente, Yuko Obuchi and Momoe Nishizaki supporting SPED in Iloilo
Cheryl, one of the students at the Tigbauan Central Elementary School, making a dream catcher as part of the livelihood activities under SPED
Japanese volunteer Yuko Obuchi (center) and SPED Teacher Roselyn Ausente (fourth from left) with students of Maasin Central Elementary School learning baking and other self-help skills under SPED