Back to School 2022: the realities of an inclusive School, CBC School Nkwen enrolls over 60 PWDs

By Bakah Derick

The Cameroon Baptist Convention nursery and Primary School Nkwen has enrolled over 20 pupils living with disabilities for the 2022-2023 academic year. In a visit to experience an inclusive school on Wednesday 7 September 2022, the head teacher Vugah Gladys revealed to www.hilltopvoices.com that the school enrolled 50 last year and with the current demand including those continuing from last year, the probability is high that close to 100 or more may be in school this academic year.

An inclusive classroom with a child 

To meet the needs of pupils with disabilities, the school has been constructed with accessibility facilities that meet their specific needs. Accessibility is guaranteed from the main entrance into school right to the classrooms. Ramps are visible directly opposite the staircases leading to the first floor of the buildings. The doors measure over a meter wide to ensure easy access into the classrooms with wheelchairs. 

Access ways up and down the first floor. 

In one of the classes, a sign language teacher is seen accompanying another teacher during an Information Communication Technologies (ICT) lesson. They have two children with hearing disability in class.

An inclusive classroom with two teachers teaching ICT
 

Vugah Gladys indicates that though there was another teacher signing, the main teacher could sign because the school has developed a programme to train all teachers to sign during classes.

 

Vugah Gladys CBC School head teacher 

This according to her is the real meaning of inclusive education because learners without disabilities are learning in the same class with those with disabilities. The head teacher further explains that from experience, learners without disabilities learn to communicate with those with disabilities and this is good for the society.

 

"We cannot be separating the learners because they will not live in a different society away from school. Those without disabilities learn special skills like sign language because they study together with those with hearing disability. In the society, they will see themselves the same. Vugah Gladys tells www.hilltopvoices.com.


 Munang Elvis, primary six teachers speaks and signs for his learners. He describes his work as a dream come true. After completing the teachers Grade training, Munang enrolled for the special needs education program where he gained skills in sign language. 


Away from the general classrooms, two separate classes have been allocated for learners with visual and hearing disabilities. Braille is taught in one of the classes and sign language in the other. These are also accompanied by special needs lessons and activities for the learners.

 

Classroom for learners with visual disability 

CBC School Nkwen is hosting the first Inclusive resource center in the region. Mary Anne Binfon, Coordinator of the Sustainable Inclusive Program (SIEP) resource center tells www.hilltopvoices.com that the center is to offer special needs education away from the inclusive programme offered by the general school.

Mary Anne Binfon talking with Bakah Derick at the CBC SIEP resource center Nkwen

 "Should a case be difficult for the classroom teachers to handle, they come to the resource center where we have experts to attend to the specific needs of the pupils. We have braillists, sign language teachers and assistants for those with other forms of disabilities." Mary Anne Binfon explains.

 

Apart from meeting the specific needs of learners, the resource center trains persons from the public with the objective of "promoting and protecting the rights of all children to education including those with disabilities by empowering them and their families in order to enhance their ability to access quality education."

 

To manage examinations for those with disabilities, the coordinator explains that they receive the scripts from teachers, braille them and send for answering and after the examinations, the answers are sent back to the center for transcription before marking by the class teachers."

 

Front view of CBC Nkwen 

CBC School Nkwen is amongst 21 primary schools in the North West region admitting children with disabilities within the Northwest Regional Inclusive Education Community of practice. Like CBC School Nkwen, it is believed that the rest of the schools are intentional about inclusive education.

 

Managed by the Education Department of the Cameroon Baptist Convention, the nursery and Primary school stands out in the inclusive education program propagated by the Socio Economic Empowerment of Person with Disabilities program of the CBCHS.

 

Many schools in the North West region are yet to consider inclusion as an important development agenda. Schools are still largely inaccessible while teachers still lack the basic skills required to manage inclusive classroom settings.

 

#EndCovid237 #CmrFreeCovid19 

Schools resumed in Cameroon for the 2022-2023 academic year on Monday 5 September 2022. Reports from across the North West and South West regions suggest a timid start following anti school resumption efforts by separatists who have campaigned for school boycott since 2016 as a form of civil disobedience against the central administration.