Catching up on lost learning through inclusive education
The importance of providing individualised learning in mainstream classrooms to help children with disabilities catch up on lost learning during the pandemic
Inclusive learning means all children in the same classrooms, in the same schools receiving the support they need to learn. As one of the four schools in Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea, that offers individualised learning in mainstream classrooms, Markham Road Primary School (MIRC) does just that.
Leraien, a 12-year-old student, was initially enrolled in regular classes but struggled to keep up with his peers. School closures during COVID-19 lockdowns also had a big impact on Leraien’s progress. “Without any support for learning to continue at home while schools were closed, it was especially difficult for Leraien,” his father, Mark, explains.
Following a few months of school closures, in March 2021, to control the spread of the virus, children returned to in-person learning. The challenge, however, continued for Leraien when he was tasked with catching up on lost learning on top of already feeling left behind. “I was happy to go back to school when schools opened up again, but I was struggling so I wanted to go back and repeat a lower grade,” says Leraien.
With the help of his sixth-grade teacher, Leraien was referred to MIRC. There, staff confirmed a hearing impairment as well as difficulties in reading, fluency, and comprehension – all factors that had an impact on his learning.
“With reading difficulties, there’s a lot of contributing factors. It can be the home environment, school environment, the child’s own ability to learn in the classroom, to grasp skills that are being taught and how best the teacher is identifying the need and trying to help address the need.”
“If the child is left out it creates a gap in learning. The more he is left out, the bigger the gap in the learning difficulty,” says a Specialist teacher, Zaphung Karahure, at MIRC.
Since joining the Resource Centre, Leraien has been making progress in his learning and comprehension. “He’s also learning sign language because we teach sign language to our students [with hearing impairment] so that’s another skill he is picking up here,” says Zaphung.
“I like going to school at the Resource Centre now because my teacher helps me a lot and I have new friends there,” Leraien says. Ensuring children with disabilities have equal access to learning opportunities, promotes an inclusive society that benefit every child equally.