In Turkmenistan, UNDP helps mix hearing impaired students with those who aren't

Apr 8, 2016

In September 2016, Turkmenistan will introduce a ground-breaking new measure to enable hearing impaired students to share classes with all other students.

The new curriculum will kick off at the Textiles College located in Ashgabat, supported by UNDP, the Ministry of Textiles and the Blind and Deaf Society of Turkmenistan, one of the largest public associations of persons living with disability in the country.

The first of its kind in Central Asia, the objectives of this effort will be two-fold: to allow hearing impaired students to develop skills at the same speed as all others, and to showcase the possibility of zero-stigma in academic environments across the country.

Until now, in Central Asia, persons living with disability studied in specialized institutions, under separate curricula, ecncouraging stigma and exclusion.

During the 10-month course at the textiles college in Ashgabat, students with hearing impairments will be mixed with others under one single curriculum. Improved teaching technics will include providing interactive boards, hearing aids or sinterpretation into sign language.

“It is important to introduce differentiated methods to make sure that students comprehend the materials better. For example, students with hearing impairments are getting tired because they need to focus their attention on several sources: listen to the teacher, listen to the sign language translation and observe what happens around them."

"This means that students make more efforts to grasp the materials. For this reason, teachers need to introduce new learning activities such as holding the tests on computers or showing videos with subtitles so as to embrace activities rather than change  requirements,” explained international expert Olga Krasyukova-Erns.

According to the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of Turkmenistan, there are close to 10,000 hearing impaired people in the country, 76 per cent of which are employed. Turkmenistan takes seriously the recommendations of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and is seeking to improve their situation.

The practice of integrating students under this model is still rare in the country, but also in the region. Over the past two years, UNDP has examined the national legislation on disability and highlighted areas of potential cooperation with the government of Turkmenistan.

Up until now, UNDP has provided leadership and computer skills training for more than 50 women with disability, and now closely cooperates with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Textiles to improve education programmes.

During a recently-held national forum on people living with disability in Ashgabat, participants talked about scaling up the results of the project to the national level.

“We are getting ready to accept new students and are committed to make vocational training more inclusive,” said a  representative of the Textiles College of Turkmenistan.

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