Our Education Consultant, Belina Modest, conducted a training about “slow learners” and students with special needs on Saturday, April 24th, 2021 at Gyetighi Primary School in Karatu, about 4 hours or 250 kilometers away from Moshi Town. She discussed teaching methods along with Suzani Ngowi from BCC (Building a Caring Community), a long-term partner of Toa Nafasi’s. Together, they explained strategies on how to help struggling learners and students with special needs. The organizer of the training was Hailey Breitenfeld, a Director from Rift Valley Children’s Village, also in Karatu. RVCV has a program related to Toa’s, that of supporting children with learning difficulties at in public schools. Belina’s report is below.
Belina and Suzani presented topics based the following questions:
- What are the different special needs students can have?
- How do you differentiate “slow learners” from students with special needs?
- What strategies can help both “slow learners” and students with special needs in inclusive classroom settings?
- What additional support might students with learning difficulties need outside of academics?
- What are the options for these students when they finish primary school, and most likely do not pass the national exam?
- How do you discuss a student’s issues and needs with parents/guardians?
- How do you emphasize that these students are capable of learning, but just at different rates and levels?
The first facilitator of the workshop was Belina who explained in deep about “slow learners.” She began by asking questions and had the participants discuss them in groups and share their ideas. After that, Belina explained the difference between “slow learners” and students with special needs, and then she offered different strategies to help “slow learners” in inclusive classrooms. She gave out the importance of inclusivity and not moving “slow learners” to separate facilities and she talked about how using teaching tools helps both the instructor to teach and the student to learn. Also, she elaborated ways on how to discuss students’ issues and needs with parents or guardians, emphasizing the need to be sensitive and patient and not place blame or shame. Lastly, she explained options for these students when they finish primary school and do not pass the national exam or move on to secondary school, which will most likely be vocational training and life skills.
Next, Madam Suzani presented about students with special needs, and explained well about the meaning of students with special needs. She asked questions of the participants and they had to share their ideas, but also to explain about the kind of students they have in their own classes. After that, Suzani explained the meaning of disability, and gave out types of disabilities. She described groups of students with special needs with different examples, and strategies to help students with special needs in inclusive classrooms as well as outside the classroom. She emphasized that these students are capable of learning but at different rates and levels. Lastly, she winded up by explaining options for special needs students when they finish school and do not pass the national exam, which were similar to what Belina offered. Suzani then gave room to participants to ask questions and they asked many questions which she elaborated on well and promised to provide a hand-out to all the participants.
Belina and Suzani’s objectives for this training were for the participants to be aware of different strategies to use in order to support “slow learners” and students with special needs in inclusive classrooms. They also wanted to emphasize to participants that “slow learners” and special needs students are capable of learning and becoming good students but in a different way than they are used to seeing.
Belina and Suzani’s recommendations were that there should be enough time for the presentation. They felt a bit rushed at the end as the last facilitator did not get enough time to answer all questions asked by the participants.