An equal chance for every child to reach their full potential
The journey Banop Ken, a 19-year-old student with a physical disability, undertook to find an inclusive learning environment where he feels accepted
Inclusive learning means an equal chance to learn. It means real learning opportunities for groups who have traditionally been excluded, including children with disabilities.
Banop Ken is a 19-year-old male student with a physical disability in his left hand and leg. He was enrolled in a regular school until sixth grade but dropped out in 2017 following severe bullying that resulted in hearing loss, as well as lack of learning support, both of which left Banop with little confidence or self-esteem.
Creating an inclusive environment extends beyond the physical accessibility and awareness raising for other students. It requires training for teachers to be able to address the different learning needs of each student. In 2018, Banop was transferred to the Morobe Inclusive Resource Centre (MIRC) where teachers worked closely with him and with his subject teachers.
To rebuild his confidence, Banop was appointed Class Captain and tasked with guiding his peers whenever the teacher had to briefly step out of the classroom. Soon, he was volunteering to help his classmates any time they needed support. “He has a classmate who has difficulty in learning so Banop always sits next to him and signs for him so that his classmate can understand the lesson,” says Wilo Siloi, Banop’s math teacher.
Every child has the right to attend a school that fully nurtures their potential to learn. In 2020, Banop started in Grade 5 at the Markham Road Primary School, a mainstream education facility that offers individualised learning to meet the needs of every child where they are in their learning.
Following a couple of months of closure in March 2021, schools have since reopened and children have returned to in-person learning. “I love school because education will help me in the future,” says Banop, who is now thriving in an environment where he feels accepted.