Haiti: Training for Special Needs Teachers

Providing Quality Education to Children with Disabilities

AAR Japan has been implementing recovery operations in Haiti, which was rocked by a massive earthquake in January of 2010. In the capital of Port-au-Prince and its surrounding areas, numerous facilities for persons with disabilities and schools for children with disabilities had to suspend operations after suffering extensive damage. More than two years have passed since the quake, and still a large number of institutions have been unable to resume operations.
AAR Japan has been assisting in the reconstruction of more than 10 institutions, including facilities for persons with disabilities, schools for children with disabilities, and orphanages. Since January 2012, AAR Japan has been working to rebuild École Jerry Mousse, a school for children with psychological and intellectual disabilities, providing tables, chairs, a generator and other necessary equipment. The surviving facilities have also been used to conduct skills training for teachers, aiming to enhance their ability to create a supportive and enlightening educational experience that will bring out the most in their students.

March 10th, 2012 – “Let’s draw a circle. What color can we get by mixing red and blue?” In a practical skills session, participants experiment with methods of teaching art and conveying color concepts.

Child Psychology, Care Techniques and Other Keys to Special Needs Education

The training sessions took place over a period of three months from February to April 2012, for a total of 163 hours over weekends and holidays. 24 teachers participated in the training, including new teachers from École Jerry Mousse and special needs teachers from 9 other schools in the Port-au-Prince area.
For instructors, we invited an experienced special needs teacher and a specialist in educational psychology, developing a curriculum that included, among other content, teaching techniques for children with disabilities, developmental and learning psychology, and the development of effective support materials. Classes on techniques for cultivating children’s self-esteem, theoretical psychology such as transactional analysis, and effective methods of assistance for children with disabilities were especially well received by the participants, particularly since a great majority had never previously had a chance to study these subjects. The training also included sessions on arts and physical education, where participants were able to experience techniques for conducting classes that enable children to learn through being stimulated by their creativity and senses by looking, touching and moving their bodies.

April 7th, 2012 – The P.E./dance teacher demonstrates easy exercises that children with disabilities can do. These classes were well received, with participants expressing that they were pleased that their students would be able to have fun while maintaining their physical health.

Key Training Content:

Basic teaching techniques for children with disabilities
Child development and learning psychology
Developing creativity through arts education
Physical education for children with disabilities
Teaching through music
Developing support materials
Offering effective assistance to children with disabilities

In Haiti there are few opportunities for skill-building training for special needs teachers, especially after the earthquake, and the participants were strongly motivated to study and learn. The participants expressed their deep belief in defending children with disabilities’ right to education, saying “As a member of this society, I want children with disabilities to be recognized and granted the same rights as children without disabilities.”
On March 13th of this year, a law to promote the integration of persons with disabilities into society was approved by the Haitian Senate. There is still a long way to go before it is fully implemented, and there is still need for support from civil organizations such as AAR Japan. AAR Japan is committed to continuing its ongoing support for persons with disabilities in Haiti.

April 5th, 2012 – Mr. Mondesir and his creation. “Since it’s made of pieces of torn paper, even blind children can enjoy this piece by touching it with their hands.”

May 5th, 2012 – At the graduation ceremony, participants showed their gratitude by singing and dancing, as well as performing plays appealing for the right to education for children with disabilities.

“I’m learning a lot! Thank you very much!”
Ms. Brunoline, a special needs teacher, has a hearing impairment herself. Since concluding her studies at Institut Monfort, a school for children with hearing impairments in Haiti, she has been teaching there for the last 22 years. “I want to help children who have the same disability as I do,” she told us. During the training sessions she sat at the closest desk to the instructor and showed an intense passion for learning, following along by listening and lip-reading. “The training was awesome,” she said. “All the content was wonderful, but for me, the most interesting subject was the psychology part. I’m learning a lot! Thank you very much!”

Ms. Brunoline (left), one of the training session participants, with AAR Japan staff Anna Furukawa (right).

*These activities have been made possible thanks to a grant from Japan Platform, in addition to generous individual donations.

AAR Japan, Haiti Office: Anna FURUKAWA
Graduated from university in Brazil. After working on projects concerning multicultural issues as a coordinator for international relations in Mie Prefecture, joined AAR Japan overseas projects division in May, 2011. Born in Rondonia, Brazil.