October 30, 2013: Three officials from Bhutanâ€™s Ministry of Education visited the United States for a 10-day study trip to explore U.S. special education services. The team also included principals from two lead schools providing services to children with disabilities in the eastern and western parts of Bhutan. The team visited schools and settings that provided an introduction to the whole continuum of services available for children with disabilities.
The 10-day visit included tours of several schools that provide services from the least restrictive (inclusive classroom settings) to the most restrictive (specialized services settings) in Westchester, New York. The team visited programs managed by the Westchester Arc, Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), Democracy Prep Public Schools, Mamaroneck District Public Schools, and Mount Pleasant Blythedale Public School. In addition, the team was able to gain some insight into transition planning by visiting a hospital which hosts a vocational training program for youth and young adults with autism. At each of these locations the team had opportunities to ask questions, discuss observations, and connect with the various organizations, as well as explore possibilities for future collaboration.
The team also went to Boston, Massachusetts to visit partner Perkins International and observed the services that they provide to children who are visually impaired and have multiple disabilities.
The Special Education Program started in 2008, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, to provide services to children with learning difficulties. Since then, the program has increased the capacity of Bhutanese teachers to provide assistance to children with special needs, schools have been identified by the Ministry of Education to provide these services throughout the country, a U.S. Special Education Advisory Committee has been established, and the Ministry of Education has drafted a National Special Education Policy for the country. These accomplishments have been possible through the support and hard work of our many partners, the Ministry of Education, supporters who have provided pro-bono technical assistance and advice, and donors to the program. However, our most important partners have been the hard working, dedicated teachers and school staff who have demonstrated flexibility, creative thinking, resilience, and passion throughout their incredible growth.