disability-inclusion-vila-east-vanuatuStelline August was a happy girl as her wheelchair was pushed through the entrance of Vila East Primary School on 4 February, 2020.

She is 14 years of age and she is from Emae Island. It has been more than 5 months, since she left school due to an accident.

While, on medication in the Vila Central Hospital, she was well cared and assisted by the medical staff. She was home schooled by the Vila East primary school inclusive teacher for around 2 to 3 months before the end of last year. Sitting on her wheelchair, she still has the opportunity to continue her studies in 2020.

The principal of Vila East School, Mr. Mala, and the school council have been working hard to modify school environment to be accessed by the people with disabilities. The ramps were built in some areas within the school compound.

Mr Mala had raised his concern on the challenges the school is currently experiencing, in terms of funding in order to provide more accommodations for Miss August as a wheelchair user.

The Ministry of Education has played a vast role in assisting Stelline’s family and the school with advice, and has raised the expectation that the Inclusive Education Policy must be actioned for all children with disabilities wanting to attend school. The principal of Vila East School principal will be working a lot to have Vila East another model school in Vila for children with disability.

Stelline August is now attending Year 7 at the Vila East School and she is looking forward to complete her basic education in 2023. Children with disability are being encouraged in the education sector to attend school, as is the right of all children, despite any disability they may have.

They do face some barriers in schools such as accessibility in schools with the wash facilities, communication skills for the Deaf and non-verbal children and access to Braille for the children with visual impairments. There is also an urgent need for more inclusive education teachers and aides who can contribute the necessary skills to support the students.

Mrs. Tari, who is Stelline’s mother, is very happy to have her in school this year as she was thinking her daughter would no longer attend school because of her disability and the difficulties of her being wheelchair bound.

She would like to encourage other parents who have a child with disability to take them to school rather than staying at home because there is a bright future for people with disability.

Miss August would also like to thank Vila East School for accepting her to be in school and advocating to all other schools to be disability inclusive.