JOINT PRESS RELEASE: Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development (MWCSD) and Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture (MESC)

SAMOA, 14 September – NATIONAL CONSULTATIONS FOR COMMUNITY AWARENESS ON INCLUSIVE EDUCATION FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES

The Department of Women, Community and Social Development (MWCSD), in partnership with the Department of Education, Sports and Culture (MESC), through support from the Australian Government through the Samoa Disability Partnership Program ( SDPP), organized community consultations in Upolu & Savaii, to gather information and solicit opinions from selected people; Principals, teachers, community representatives and students with and without disabilities, to develop the highly anticipated National plan to improve awareness of inclusive education.

The plan focuses on identifying effective ways to highlight the importance of inclusive education, providing opportunities for children with disabilities to access disability-friendly education services, and identifying best practices to ensure that teachers, students, parents and communities work together to improve social well-being and educational outcomes for all children with disabilities.

In addition to focus group consultations and individual discussions with relevant stakeholders, part of this program is to organize a roadshow led by the MESC with the support of the MWSCD, with the aim of starting to raise awareness but also to highlight relevant issues for consideration regarding the participation of children with disabilities in the education system and access to service providers. Started in August, this program is scheduled to end in November, which will be very appropriate as it coincides with the MWCSD’s annual commemoration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (3rd December) and International Human Rights Day (10e December).

As one of SDPP’s major investments, the development of this plan will contribute to Samoa’s overall efforts to advance services for people with disabilities, as well as improve its planning and support policies in line with the Convention on the Rights of of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The completion of this plan will be in addition to Samoa’s other significant achievements also supported by the SDPP, such as the completion of the CRPD National Report 2022 and the National Disability Policy 2021-2031.

Joel C. Hicks