Over the past few years Extra Cover has been considering how it might help disabled school-age children (both physically disabled and learning disabled) in the Galle educational district. For many in Sri Lanka, children with disabilities are considered at best a burden, and it is certainly uncommon to see them at school. Our research has shown that most children with disabilities simply stay at home, despite a legal requirement (as in the UK) that they be educated by the state. There is no bespoke institution for such children in the area, and so we have been investigating whether we might provide such a resource.
A few miles from Gonadeniya School is a school that has spare classroom space, and its principal is willing for us, in theory, to develop one classroom into a “special needs” environment.
A local resident, meanwhile, has identified all the disabled children in the vicinity, and she is currently visiting their families to promote the idea and to ascertain transportation needs. The Department of Education, meanwhile, has confirmed it would provide a specialist teacher if the project ever got off the ground.
It is an exciting venture – one that requires the willingness and trust of a number of parties – but if successful, would be a major new aspect of the charity’s educational programme.