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Grant to Help Improve Special Education in Uzbekistan

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - A US$1.5 million grant will pilot a project to help improve basic education for children with special needs in Uzbekistan.

Special needs education is an area of the formal education system that needs to receive more attention, and special needs students are one of the most vulnerable groups in Uzbekistan, with many of them coming from poor families.

Most special needs students are educated at home or at specialized and boarding schools, often with poor buildings and facilities, obsolete learning material, and limited interaction with other students and society as most of these schools are far from their homes.

This segregated system, even though conceived to focus attention on special needs in each specialized school, has been shown in studies to create a gap between these children and the wider society, preventing them from being integrated into everyday social life, finding jobs, and improving their well-being.

The grant, from ADB's Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction, financed by the Government of Japan, will pilot a project that will use inclusive and integrated approaches to improve the learning, social confidence, and social integration of children with special needs.

Inclusive education means including these children in the educational arrangements made for the majority of the children, with facilities which make it possible for all children with special needs to be included in society.

"The project aims to demonstrate the benefits of inclusive and integrated educational approaches for children with special needs in basic schools," says Sri Wening Handayani, an ADB Poverty Reduction Specialist. "Inclusion is not only better educationally, emotionally, and psychologically for children with special needs, it is also more cost-effective."

Eighteen schools - 6 special needs education and 12 general schools - from the city of Tashkent and the oblasts of Kashkardarya and Sukandariya will participate in the project. These schools will work together to develop a model for social integration between children in general schools and special schools. Teachers will also be trained to work in classes where students have different needs, using multiple learning and teaching tools.

Funds will be provided to refurbish the schools, including with information and communications technology (ICT) equipment. Specialized schools will be provided with equipment appropriate for learners with disabilities, such as hearing aids and wheelchairs, while the general schools will be refurbished to make them suitable for children with special needs, such as by installing wheelchair ramps, guide rails for the blind, and barrier-free toilets.

The project is estimated to cost $1,716,880, with the Government, parents, and teachers shouldering the balance. The Ministry of Public Education is the executing agency for the 2 ½ year project.



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