Japan to Help Children Cope with Disabilities

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A boy drawing a picture on a wall to celebrate last month’s International Children’s Day. Supplied

The Japanese Embassy granted $256,317 in development aid to Cambodia on Monday, to be used by the Association for Aid and Relief, Japan (AAR Japan) to promote the educational inclusion of children with disabilities.
“AAR Japan will promote inclusive education by creating barrier-free school environments…for children with disabilities,” an embassy press release read.
The grant, signed by Japanese Ambassador to Cambodia Kumamaru Yuji and AAR Japan country director Sonodat Tomoko, will be used to fund programs in Kandal province’s Ksach Kandal district.
AAR Japan will work to train teachers in the district to better accommodate children with disabilities in the classroom, and intends to reach more than 3,300 students, teachers and residents of different communities with a message geared toward the support of students with disabilities. The hope is that the measures will boost enrollment rates for students with disabilities.
According to AAR Japan, their organization’s “Inclusive Education” program has been active in Ksach Kandal since 2013.
A specialist from Osaka University, professor Jun Kawaguchi was brought to the district last year to evaluate the state of educational opportunities for disabled persons there.  
His findings showed that such opportunities were lacking. In response, Mr. Kawaguchi recommended that information regarding disabilities be disseminated to local residents and school administrators so that school buildings and curricula could be redesigned to accommodate students with disabilities.
“School principals, community members, parents and government officials participated in [my] lecture and lively discussions. The participants stressed the importance of strengthening the community as an agent of social change,” Mr. Kawaguchi said of his time in Kandal.
Since 2002, the Japanese government has provided more than $26.1 million in aid for 94 projects in Cambodia through their Grant Assistance for Japanese NGO Projects program, mainly supporting education, health, agriculture and mine-clearance projects.
Ngin Saorath, executive director of the Cambodian Disabled People’s Organization, said while the Japanese project in Kandal was ultimately good for people with disabilities, it was limited in scope.
“I think it is a good sign for Cambodian people with disabilities. However, this project is only for one district. But I hope it could be a good example for the Ministry of Education to look at in order to scale up implementation nationwide,” Mr. Saorath said.

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