The Royal Government of Bhutan, Ministry of Educationâ€™s effort in strengthening special education needs stems from their commitment to achieve universal primary education for all by 2015. Since the beginning of the Ministryâ€™s 8th Five-year Plan, provisions have been put in place and subsequently expanded to give increased numbers of special needs children access to educational facilities. Today, there are eight public schools addressing the needs of children with disabilities: Changangkha Middle Secondary School, Tendruk HigherSecondary School, Mongar Lower Secondary School, Drugyel Lower Secondary School and Drugyel Lower Secondary School-Deaf Unit, Khaling Lower Secondary School, Jigme Sherubling Higher Secondary School, Muenseling Institute, and Zhemgang Lower Secondary School. These schools can teach children with a range of disabilities, from mild to moderate to severe and profound disabilities.
Considering the international norm of 10 percent of 6 to 12-year-olds in any given country affected with some form of disabilities, Bhutan assumes to have over 3,500 children affected with some form and varying degree of disability. Out of these, only 360 have access to theabove educational facilities. Thus, the Ministry of Education finds that there is a need to strengthen existing services and to expand a few facilities and programs to address the needs of many disabled children and youth who are not benefiting from the free educational services provided by the government. Furthermore, the quality of teaching and learning has to be strengthened to ensure that children with special needs are provided the best educational opportunities, complemented with transitional and vocational skills.
Since 2008, the Special Education Program and the US Special Education Advisory Committee under the Bhutan Foundation have been working closely with the Ministry of Education, Early Childhood Care and Development and Special Education Division, to develop programs and implement trainings to help the growing needs of special education services in the country. Over the last five years, the program has accomplished the following:
These accomplishments have been possible through the support and hard work of our partners on the ground, the Ministry of Education, and supporters and donors of the program who have provided pro-bono technical assistance and advice for the project.