April 19, 2021

Tshering Choden, who often ran away from school or threw tantrums in the past, now looks forward to joining her classmates each day at Mongar Middle Secondary School (MSS).

It’s been a strong turnaround with help from Anu Alex to develop strategies for children with special needs. In just a period of five months, Tshering is engaged in all her activities with excitement and pleasure and shows a dramatic improvement in her behavior and relationships with her family and peers.

Though much of the academic year remained closed due to the nationwide lockdown caused by COVID-19, the situation sparked opportunities for our special education expert, Anu Alex, to work with the teachers in Mongar to help students like Tshering see themselves as capable and responsible individuals in society. This started by introducing a series of activities and processes, such as “person-centered planning,” a systematic process designed to help participants look beyond the immediate barriers and visualize for the future. In Tshering’s case, this process was handled start-to-finish in partnership with her parents, teachers, and her own contributions. Working together with the student and her support system ensured the selection of meaningful goals and activities for Tshering, enabling strong coordination between activities and learning at home and school.

Special Education in Mongar Middle Secondary School
“Earlier the tasks we gave to Tshering were just to keep her busy, so there wasn’t much learning happening. After having her in the Total Life Curriculum (TLC) program, we could see a lot of improvement and she could learn skills—her focus on the activities have increased. She was engaged meaningfully. The Total Life Curriculum has helped a lot in making a difference in her life.”

This same process went into place for 13 other children at Mongar MSS. In each case, a functional activity was identified for students with complex needs, based on their interests, strengths, and family priorities. The functional activities ranged from gardening, to baking simple cakes and selling them in the school, to making paper bags and greeting cards. Roughly 55 educators were trained on incorporating academic goals into these functional activities, such as teaching the concept of measurement through baking. Teachers were amazed to see how these students became more open to learning and developed knowledge and skills while being enrolled in the activities they enjoyed.

The process ends with the teachers learning how to document and evaluate each student, enabling teachers to assess their student’s progress to incorporate and adapt goals to enhance their learning further.

This program was implemented in partnership with the Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) & Special Education Needs Division, Ministry of Education, and Perkins International in continuation with our ongoing program to improve the lives of and ensure positive educational outcomes for children with complex needs.

Check out more content from the Bhutan Foundation Update 2021 by clicking here!