Promoting inclusive education in schools is about making sure that all learners can learn, including those with disabilities. Effective school leaders should be able to create a culture of inclusive education by ensuring that students in their individual differences are not only present in schools but also participate actively in learning and achieve high academic performance.
The Head Teacher of Group Scolaire (GS) Bumbogo, Mr. Kwizera Jean de Dieu is one of the head teachers who is committed to make his school inclusive. GS Bumbogo is a public twelve-year Basic Education school located in a rural area of Bumbogo Sector, Gasabo District in Kigali City-Rwanda. The number of students in this school is currently 1769 (864 male and 905 female). Mr. Kwizera is among the Head Teachers who graduated successfully in 2016 from the Continuous Professional Development Diploma in Effective school leadership organized by UR-CE with support from VVOB.
Based on the competences acquired from the CPD Diploma, the head teacher makes efforts to promote inclusive education in his school through collaboration with the school team members and the local community. He encourages parents who have children with disabilities not to prevent them from their right to education. He welcomes all students regardless their socio-economic situation and learning abilities and takes the lead in helping them to get integrated in the school community.
The case of Habinshuti Ildephonse, a student in the school, illustrates the effort of creating a culture of inclusive education in GS Bumbogo.
"Ildephonse Habinshuti, a 14 years old boy, is in Grade 3 (Primary 3) at GS Bumbogo. He was born with a physical disability and he uses a wheel chair to move because he cannot walk. He is a second born in his family and his elder brother has the same disability. It is only when Ildephonse was 7 years old that he could move from one place to another using his arms. Because of this disability, his parents could not take him to school. The Head Teacher of GS Bumbogo was informed about his case when Ildephonse was 11 years old. The Head Teacher delegated one of his teachers to visit the family and discuss with parents about possibilities of taking him to school at GS Bumbogo. The parents were convinced about the idea of taking Ildephonse to school but they had a challenge of how he would get to school. The family could not afford to get a wheel chair for him. He started going to school with a wheel chair borrowed from a neighbour and he could only go to school when the neighbour was didn’t need the wheel chair. The Head Teacher advocated for Ildephose to find for him a wheel chair until he got one from Handicap International.After getting the wheel chair for Ildephose, the Head Teacher and the school community had to find a way of rehabilitating the school compound to allow Ildehonse access his classroom and move easily in the school compound. Now, Ildephose is integrated in the school, he has friends who help him to get to school, play with him and study with him. His mother is also among few parents who are actively engaged in working with the school."
Inclusivity goes beyond the classroom and the school. It is about meeting even children who are not learning because of their home situation, their disabilities or other reasons. Therefore, it is important for head teachers to involve the local community and other partners. This requires competences in effective school leadership that school leaders develop through continuous professional development.