Late last month, cbm New Zealand Programmes Officer Karen Jack joined our inclusive education partners from Papua New Guinea to take part in the first inaugural Inclusive Education Advocacy Forum in Port Moresby. Our partners in PNG are working hard to ensure children with disabilities have access to quality education for the best possible skills for their future, but no single organisation or government department can achieve inclusive education on its own. Over 90% (130,000) of children with moderate to severe disabilities are still missing out on the opportunity to go to school in Papua New Guinea.
This is why cbm New Zealand is fostering a partnership with government departments to make effective and lasting connections between children and adults with disabilities and various health, education, livelihood and social initiatives in the country.
This two day event was opened by High Commissioner of New Zealand in PNG Her Excellency Ms Suzanne Mackwell welcoming representatives from the Government of Papua New Guinea Departments of Education and Community Development and international non-government organisations. Karen presented a 5 minute video and publication produced by cbm New Zealand showcasing success stories and accomplishments made to date in inclusive education.
The forum was also an opportunity for local partners to share the challenges of translating the theory of inclusion within education into practice. Accessibility of schools, skill of mainstream teachers as well as factors unique to PNG such as the distance to travel over rugged terrain were raised with requests made for more human resources and improved infrastructure in schools to make inclusive education a reality.
This exchange of learnings and pooling of skills and resources is a first step to move toward quality inclusive education of all children in PNG. There is no blueprint for the perfect inclusive education system or the ideal accessible school, but together with the Department of Education in PNG we will continue the process of reflection to arrive at solutions toward the same desire change - a world in which everyone is educated.