Susteran Alma Orphanage provides special support to 18 children with special educational needs

Susteran Alma Orphanage provides special support to 18 children with special educational needs

DILI, 13 june 2021 (TATOLI) – The Susteran Alma Orphanage provided special support to 18 children with special educational needs to ensure they have the right to education as all other children.

Getrudis Bidi, the Director of the Susteran Alma Orphanage said these 18 children included children with hearing impairment, children with language impairment, children with visual impairment, autism, mental disorders, and other children with physical disabilities.

Getrudis Bidi, the Director of the Susteran Alma Orphanage (Image Tatoli/Filomeno Martins)

“We need different and specific skills to teach them. You know special education provides them with identified disabilities specialized instruction designed to meet their unique learning needs, giving them the opportunity to develop to their fullest potential,” Bidi told Tatoli at Susteran Alma Orphanage hostel, in Dili, today.

He said among these children, each child learned with his or her teacher separately from other children.

“We teach each of these students separately. Such as an autistic child with mild autism symptoms should not learn together with another child with serious autism conditions. We need different therapies for every child with autism. We apply this teaching and learning approach to other classes as well, including hearing impairment, language impairment, visual impairment, autism, and mental disorder class,’ she said.

Bidi informed that apart from the 18 children, currently around 40 children with special needs outside the Alma Susteran Orphanage School also studying at the orphanage.

“Many parents come here with their disabled children. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough space to take those children. It is sad to see them go back. We have already bought land in Manleuana, and we will construct a big building to at least accumulate some of those children with special needs who are still left behind in the country. A society cannot be equitable unless all children are included,” said Didi.

Bidi said many children with special needs across the country were left behind, saying these children needed special attention from all relevant entities to ensure they have the same rights to education as all other children.

According to the most recent Population and Housing Census, there were just over 38,000 people in Timor-Leste with a disability, and only 30 percent of children with disabilities in the country attend school.

The World Health Organization and the World Bank estimated that in some countries “being disabled more than doubles the chance of never enrolling in school”. An estimated one in three out-of-school children has a disability.

Research done by the UNICEF’s International Child Development Centre on Promoting the Rights of Children with Disabilities found that Children with disabilities and their families constantly experience barriers to the enjoyment of their basic human rights and to their inclusion in society.

The research provided that the inclusion of children with disabilities was a matter of social justice and an essential investment in the future of society.

Bidi thanked the Ministry of Social, Solidarity, and Inclusion (MSSI), for all the financial support that it has given to the Alma Susteran Orphanage.

“Apart from MSSI, we also recently received school materials and 10 ipads tablets from UNICEF, to assist our children with online and digital learning,” said Didi.

Alma Susteran Orphanage School was one of the tuition-free-school in Dili with free snacks and free lunch for school children every day.

It was established in 2004, and currently has eight teachers who were nuns.

Journalist: Filomeno Martins

Editor: Nelia Borges Rosaio


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