May 21, 2018
JICA Yokohama International Center implemented LEP2.0 Attachment Program for Special Education Personnel of Ministry of Education (1st batch) from February 18 to March 17, 2018 based on the charter "Kanagawa, a society where people can live together in harmony".
In Malaysia, there is an inadequate availability of special needs education, and the school attendance rate of children with disabilities remains low. It has been identified that the lack of experts in education for children with disabilities is one of the major causes associated with this. Therefore, this training program was implemented to achieve the following two main objectives: 1. To increase the pool of experts available to support students with special needs, and 2. To ensure that teachers are adequately prepared to teach the 21st century skills* desired of Malaysia's students with special needs.
This program consists of lectures from experts and site visits to several institutions related to special needs education, day-care centers for children with disabilities, employment support and the activities of disabled people and their parents. The participants gained greater understanding in various issues including the status of special needs education and promotion of the inclusive education system, public services for children with disabilities, and their social participation in Japan.
[Scene 1:National Institute of Special Needs Education]
The participants visited the National Institute of Special Needs Education, in order to observe its facilities and take series of lectures focusing on methods of teaching for children with different types of disabilities such as physical disabilities, autism and severe/ multiple disabilities, as well as ‘joint activities and learning in regular schools'. The participants actively exchanged their opinions with the lecturers. A participant asked the reason why joint activities and learning between regular schools and special needs schools are poorly promoted, the lecturer pointed out several factors such as lack of understanding on disabilities among teachers as well as reluctance of parents to send their children with disabilities to regular schools.
[Scene 2: Kanagawa Prefectural Kanazawa Special Needs School]
The participants visited Kanazawa Special Needs School and observed how the special needs school is run in Japan. They observed children during school lunch time and their return to home by school buses. Also the participants learned teaching methods according to the needs and level of disabilities and observed activities aiming to promote independence. And furthermore, the participants visited three other special needs schools and a regular school that accepts children with disabilities. They all were very impressed with dedicated teachers in Japanese schools.
[Scene 3:Exchange meeting with former JICA volunteers]
A number of JICA volunteers have been dispatched to Malaysia in the field of special needs education and support for people with disabilities. Many of the participants in this program are officials and teachers working for organizations that accepted these volunteers. This session aimed to interact and exchange opinions among both parties. The former JICA volunteers shared their experiences in Malaysia as well as their current activities in the above-mentioned field after their return to Japan. They also enjoyed their reunion through this session.
On the final day, reflecting on their learnings from the lectures and site visits, the participants presented action plans in order to make positive changes in Malaysia. Ms. Liyana seemed to be highly motivated commenting that the participant will further improve the action plans and make actions while collaborating with each other. It is hoped that the participants will make full use of their skills and knowledge gained through the program, and contribute to the improvement of the school attendance of children with disabilities in Malaysia.
*Key competencies proposed for living in the globalized world and rapidly changing digital society towards meeting the demands of new workforce. The competencies consists of critical thinking, problem-solving, ways of working such as communication and collaboration and information literacy.