Report on the REWA Society, Leh (Ladakh) – May 2018
REWA Society was introduced to me by a common friend who works actively in the area of disability in Bangalore, India. Having worked with children with special needs for about 8 years in an inclusive setup I wanted to work in an exclusive special school setup. I chose Leh for my volunteering as I feel that exposure and awareness of special needs would benefit this community. I wanted to have a better understanding of the community and how the culture would affect families with special needs children. Bringing in teaching strategies and methodologies from Bangalore to Leh was one of my main purposes in teaching at this centre. As special education is a relatively new area at this centre, bringing in information and skill teaching was crucial.
On my arrival to the centre my main objective was to observe. Observation of the system, physiotherapists, special educators, schedule and activities took place on the first two to three days. Upon observation, I realized that the centre was catering to children who could not afford or would not have access to special needs services otherwise. This was a great initiative by REWA which many organizations could learn from. Many children were accompanied and supported by their parents to school which has its advantages. Replication of the school activities and schedule at home is easily possible. Information and updates about the child can be immediately communicated with the physiotherapists and special needs teachers. Group activities were of great assistance for promoting appropriate social and behavioural skills. The staff and the management were able to work hand in hand and coordinate daily activities of children.
While observing and working with the children there were also some areas of improvement. Firstly there needed to be a specific timetable for the special education team. With the timetable there needed to be focus on both academic and functional skills. Making a balanced curriculum to include both daily life and educational skills was definitely challenging. I initiated a time table which could be used by the special education team. All the subject books are provided in the library and certain extra worksheets could be procured from the internet. It is as follows:
10:30-11:15- English- This is divided in Listening, Reading, Speaking and Writing
11:15- 12:00- Math- This has basic life skills like reading numbers, using calculator, money, time, shapes and reading car/mobile numbers of family members
12:00- 12:30- Social/ Life Skills- This includes topics of conversation, eye contact, turn taking, greeting skills
While having said the above, it was a great learning experience for me. To gain from different cultures, belief systems and learning environments always opens up my mind as a special educator. I hope REWA continues the beautiful but tough job of including children with special needs in the society.
SHIKHA SRIVASTAVA from Bangalore
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