Viet Nam News
HCM CITY — In a regular school in HCM City’s Cần Giờ District, a 13-year-old boy diagnosed with intellectual disability has been making gradual progress.
After three years at the school – also, like the boy himself, who declined to be named-- he has now begun to read Vietnamese and do simple maths.
He first started attending first grade in 2012-13, one of 4,174 students with disabilities to receive inclusive education in the city as of last year.
At the end of the year he had made little progress in learning, was shy and rarely talked to his classmates.
His teachers had spent more time teaching him than his classmates, based on a programme individually designed for him.
They also taught him living skills, communication and, especially, to attend to his own needs.
Nguyễn Hữu Tâm, a specialist in the department’s Primary Education Division, said of the 4,174 students with disabilities, the ratio of children to benefit from early intervention was low: nearly 50 per cent in the case of kindergarten students and only 1.2 per cent in primary school, which they mostly joined straight after bypassing kindergarten.
This means it is difficult for teachers to teach them since the number of students in many classes is reaching the maximum allowed 50, he said.
“In spite of difficulties, we try our best to help them develop. We do not have the right to refuse admission even if some of the children are too old to study in first grade. We show sympathy and love.”
At a workshop to discuss the experience in providing inclusive education held yesterday, Tâm told the teachers who teach the disabled children that they should not worry if their students do not do well in academics.
They should not use common standards to evaluate these children, he said.
“Instead, you should find out what gifts they have or what they are good at to develop.”
District education officials patiently communicate with parents with disabled children and encourage them to bring these children to school.
The department has instructed school authorities to use creative methods and create a friendly and safe learning environment for students, especially for those with disabilities.
The city is trying to help achieve the national goal of having 70 per cent of disabled children in school by 2020.
According to the 2009 census 66.5 per cent of disabled children of primary school-going age in the country went to school.
The 605 schools these children attend face a shortage of facilities and teaching aids, according to a department report.
They also do not have a sufficient number of teachers who graduated in teaching children with disabilities.
Many have learnt on the job and attended short-term training courses organised by the department in co-operation with education universities.
Many parents of disabled children fail to closely co-operate with teachers, contending that teaching the children and helping them develop life skills is solely the latter’s responsibility.
Several of them do not even accept that their children have disabilities or take them to doctors to check.
According to Tâm, to minimise difficulties for children with disabilities, the Ministry of Education and Training should work with health agencies to discover and intervene early during the “golden age” of below three years. —VNS