One school’s move to make learning accessible for every child
By transforming school facilities and adapting learning styles to ensure every child has an equal opportunity to education
Nehal, 9, is a year-three student with a physical disability. In his free time, Nehal loves playing outdoors with his neighbourhood friends. He also attends one of the few mainstream schools in Suva, Fiji, that offers individualised learning for children with disabilities. The school has adapted some of its facilities since Nehal joined to create an accessible and more inclusive learning environment for students with disabilities.
This began with moving his year-three classroom closer to the bathroom so that Nehal could more readily access the facilities. As he and his classmates progress in their academic studies each year, their classroom remains the same to ensure Nehal consistently has comfortable access to the facilities every year.
Within the classroom, students typically sit on desks with benches. To adapt to Nehal’s physical impairment, he has a tailored, lower desk positioned against a wall that he can lean on for additional back support. The school is also in the process of building ramps to increase accessibility for more students with physical impairments.
His teachers work closely with him on his literacy and numeracy skills while he has continued to excel in languages – speaking Hindi, English, and Fijian.
Being in an inclusive learning environment has been key to Nehal’s development. The support of his classmates both in and outside of the classroom has also been key to Nehal’s learning experience. From being a shoulder to lean on as he navigates his way around the school to making sure he takes part in class projects; his classmates are always on hand to ensure Nehal is included in the day-to-day activities at school.
At the end of the school day, Nehal is picked up by his mother and joined by his sister as they start their commute home.
"The doctor told me that if I had another boy, he would have the same condition as my first son," Joyshika explains that Nehal is the second of their sons born with the genetic condition. Once home, they are joined by Nitin, Nehal’s father. "He is like a gift to us," his father speaks of Nehal, affirming that every day with him is treasured by the family.