Building Confidence through Inclusive Teaching
While displaying his work on a green whiteboard in the classroom, Tha Kimheng, a 12-year-old boy who has difficulties speaking and expressing himself, happily talked about his excitement after receiving support from an Inclusive Learning program at Save the Children. “I am excited to be learning now with my classmates and teacher,” Kimheng said.
Kimheng, a second grade student from Koh Sraloa Primary School, is the youngest child of a poor family with seven siblings. His parents divorced when he was only six months old and his mother passed away when he was little.
Mr. Roth Ponha, a Lower Secondary School Director, claimed that Kimheng’s grandfather took him in after his mother passed away. His family usually left him alone all the time, which is where he began to challenge in communicating and socializing.
“Kimheng is not brave enough to talk and/or answer his classmates. He always stays silent and doesn’t have the ability to use simple movements to express himself.” Said Mr. Ratin, Kimheng’s teacher. “I found it difficult to support Kimheng in his first semester, as he did not respond to my questions. My teaching methods were not effective for him.”
Funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), Save the Children, local and government partners (Koh Kong Provincial Office of Education and the District Office of Education), began implementing the Inclusive Learning Program in Kimheng’s community since early 2019. The project provided training to teachers and school directors on how to identify children with disabilities as well as proper methodologies to use during lessons to enhance inclusive learning.
“After I received training from Save the Children, I found out that Kimheng was autistic, so I decided to change the way I teach him,” expressed Mr. Ratin. “I teach him with pictures, storytelling and games in class and now I can see the improvement from Kimheng, where he can use Khmer consonants and vowels and count numbers.”
Kimheng’s grandfather, Mr. Roth Ponha, said with a big smile: “I am excited to see my grandson progress on reading, writing, and spelling with Khmer class, and especially that he can now talk and play with his classmates in school.”
Kimheng can now write Khmer vocabulary and long text narratives well with only minor mistakes. He can participate in group work with his classmates and is more involved in school activities. Mr. Ratin monitors Kimheng’s grades twice a week in order to provide more tailored support to his reading, writing, speaking and vocabulary lessons.
“I am willing to do my best to support Kimheng to learn by using a variety of inclusive methods so he can better communicate with many people in the next school semester.” Mr. Ratin added.
With Kimheng’s smile and excitement, he told us that he now wants to be a teacher when he grows up.