IRC commits to expanding quality teaching, through teacher training, with ongoing support and professional development, that is meaningful and relevant. The Healing Classrooms Initiative recognizes the importance of understanding teachers' experiences, perspectives, and priorities to ensure this. The initiative is developing new ways of thinking about 'becoming and being a teacher' that are grounded in the responsibilities of being an agent of child protection. It highlights and has developed strategies to strengthen community and government support to teachers, who are themselves also victims of conflict. Teachers are helped to apply the principles of psychosocial well-being and the 'healing' of children. By integrating these with culturally sensitive notions of 'good child-centered teaching,' IRC has developed models of good pedagogy that are grounded in principles of child protection and child well-being.
IRC commits to generating new knowledge by identifying and documenting promising existing practice and developing and piloting new innovations within different IRC programs. Learning from pilot projects in four countries, IRC has documented these key elements of the approach - in training materials, a toolkit, and an introductory learning video. To expand its reach and ensure access to the materials and ideas that can support and develop teachers working even in the remotest of areas, IRC is transitioning its materials into a Capacity Building Program that is available as a distance learning program, that can be used flexibly by trainers, teachers, and other stakeholders to provide tailored and ongoing learning. IRC is sharing the Healing Classrooms Initiative findings with the wider international community, including education practitioners, advocates, donors, and policy makers at community, regional, national, and international levels.
There are almost 200,000 school-aged children with disabilities in Afghanistan, at least 34,000 of whom are sensory impaired. Approximately 64 percent or 22,000 of these children are not accessing education opportunities. Girls with disabilities are faced with the dual challenge of their disability and their gender. Girls in Afghan society often are not encouraged or permitted access to education. As a result, only 16.5 percent of girls with a disability are accessing education. This project will target those 22,000 sensory impaired children, with a special focus on increasing enrollment of girls with disabilities in rural areas of Afghanistan. With its partner, the National Association for the Blind in Herat, IRC will conduct awareness-raising and advocacy campaigns, train 50 community-based educators, plus 50 teachers in government schools to increase their skills and awareness, so that children with disabilities can be part of the class. IRC's hope is that these activities will encourage a mutually sustaining relationship between school and community, as well as among educators, children, and their families.
In Afghanistan, based on the outcomes of the assessments that have already been completed, IRC will:
- Conduct a training of trainers with the Afghan Ministry of Education;
- Train students, teachers, and parents on universal sign language;
- Train teachers to develop classrooms that are fully supportive of children with disabilities;
- Strengthen support for parents and students through exchange visits between children and parents from different communities;
- Monitor progress against the objectives.
Anticipated Launch: The Social Protection Program for People with Disabilities in Afghanistan will launch in September 2007.
1. Conduct parents training. (Beginning January 2008)
IRC and National Association for the Blind (NAB) staff and School Management Committees will work together to train parents and other family members of children with sensory disabilities. These trainings will also be used to build the capacity of the family members to support the child academically and socially. The communication skills (Braille and Sign Language) of the family members will be developed. Common post-integration problems and strategies for addressing these problems will be discussed.
2. Conduct teacher training in government and community based schools and provide ongoing support to build skills and confidence. (Beginning December 2007)
3. Integrate children with sensory impairment into mainstream classrooms and activities. (Beginning March 2008)
Anticipated Launch: The Social Protection Program for People with Disabilities in Afghanistan will launch in September 2007.<br /><br />
Over a period of nearly 30 years, the IRC has been delivering education programs for children in conflict affected populations. IRC has learned the critical positive difference that the provision of a safe learning environment can make to children and their families. Healing Classrooms is the IRC's unique approach to strengthening the role that schools and especially teachers play in promoting the psychosocial recovery and wellbeing of children during and after crises. Healing Classrooms encourages an inclusive approach to education, in which all children - including girls, children of different ethnic origin, and children with disabilities - are welcomed and have access to safe, supportive, and healing learning opportunities. To date, the IRC has committed approximately $8 million towards expansion of the Healing Classrooms Initiative.
IRC's Healing Classrooms approach has been field tested and is now incorporated into training and support materials that can help teachers and communities provide child-centered, healing schools. Through this commitment, the IRC committed to strengthening and expanding the reach of this initiative so that it is infused into all of the IRC's education programs, and influences practice among education providers in emergencies and post-conflict settings.
IRC has developed an approach designed to strengthen the role that schools and especially teachers play in promoting the psychosocial recovery and well-being of children. IRC encourages an inclusive approach to education, in which all children are welcomed - including girls, children of different ethnic origin and children with disabilities. IRC's approach recognizes that emergencies and displacement heighten the risks of abuse and exploitation faced by children, even within schools, and that training plus monitoring and referral systems are critical in making schools safe spaces. The approach particularly focuses on expanding and supporting the positive protective role that teachers play in these crises, in making and maintaining 'healing' learning spaces, in which all children can recover, grow, and develop.