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Assistant teachers go the extra mile to support children with disabilities


The Jordan Times


AMMAN — As COVID-19 and the resulting restrictions affected almost every corner of society, including education, children with disabilities and their caregivers are among the ones most impacted, according to the international humanitarian organisation Mercy Corps.


In Jordan only 1.9 per cent of children with disabilities receive educational services out of the entire 1.396.868 of students in the Kingdom, a Mercy Corps statement said.


“Just because they have a disability, it doesn't mean that they cannot learn. They just need the appropriate support and tools to thrive,” said Maisa, Mercy Corps’ deputy programme manager, in the statement.


Mercy Corps’ inclusive education programme, funded by UNICEF and the European Union, helps children with disabilities enroll in school and then provides personalised education support, resources and tools as well as rehabilitation services such as physical, occupational and speech therapy. All are embedded into their school day and free of charge, read the statement.


Since 2013, Mercy Corps reached over 5200 children with disabilities in around 160 schools, both in host communities as well as in Zaatari and Azraq refugee camps, the statement said.


“When the schools closed due to COVID-19, we knew we had to pivot quickly in order to continue providing support to these children — and those who care for them — to make sure they don’t fall behind,” Maisa added.


Mercy Corps’ assistant teachers who typically provide one-on-one support in the classroom, are providing support remotely to around 600 students. 


Parents and students receive video messages almost daily helping them navigate assignments, teaching them how to make educational tools or simply encouraging them to keep trying. 


For those without reliable Internet, assistant teachers deliver handwritten workbooks and follow up by phone, the statement said.


“The programme is distinguished and unique, and improved the academic level of my child,” one mother mentioned.


“We received intensive follow-up during the lockdown, and my daughter started to read and write,” another mother said.


“I have learned a great deal, through courses provided by the inclusive education programme, I also learned all about the use of technology in education, and dissemination of academic concepts, which was particularly useful during the lockdown,” an assistant teacher said.


“Quality education can be achieved through inclusion, all children should have the right to quality education, the Ministry of Education, education directorates and schools must facilitate this right; education is the gateway for all to thrive, gain access to various opportunities, and hold the keys to their own future,” Mercy Corps said.


“Education can be a lifeline for children with disabilities and everything should be done to make sure they continue to have that opportunity, especially in times of crisis,” the international organisation said in the statement.



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