Inspired by last month’s edition, one of our readers has shared a success story with us about inclusive education.

Balkiya Pshenova, director of Management and Business College in Astana has written about how the college has begun to teach hearing impaired students. 

Five years ago, the Management and Business College in Astana was approached by several parents who had children with hearing impairments. After graduating from a special education school, they received no further education and securing employment was a challenge. None of Astana’s educational institutions had the necessary experience or capacity to arrange teaching for students with additional educational needs. At the time Astana Management and Business College also had no such practice.

One of the main objectives of our teachers, however, was to help students integrate into society, both socially and with regards to employment. The college asked itself what if it could also help children with special educational needs who are particularly vulnerable to social isolation and unemployment?

The college decided to admit these students and began devising a suitable teaching strategy for them. 

Inclusive education is based on the idea that equal treatment should be granted to all students without discrimination, and that special measures should be taken to include students with additional educational needs. 

As a result of this decision, the college has expanded its staff to include a sign language interpreter and the design department admitted ten students with hearing impairments. Another five students decided to study hairdressing. 

The college provides all the conditions for young people with special needs to join the team and take an active part in student life from the very first days of study. Joint studies are important to both the disabled students and their course mates. They learn the importance of kindness, and being purposeful; taking on responsibilities that would be unusual for other young people of their age.

Gulzhaina Yergali, a fourth-year design student, said, ‘At the college we obtain a lot of information and we make acquaintances with other students. Our curator is our friend; we talk a lot with him and share secrets. Here we felt we became adults.’

The college has also employed psychologists to work with students with additional educational needs. Their tasks include development and correctional work with students and continuous cooperation with their teachers and parents in order to create common approaches towards their learning. Teachers are expected to have a high level of tolerance and understand what inclusion is. Group heads need to have sufficient knowledge of correctional teaching and educational psychology and must also have excellent communication skills.

Teachers who work with hearing impaired students commit to a process of reflection and professional development. Although the sign language interpreter is able to help, teachers try to avoid carelessness in their use of language, to make things as clear as possible and eye contact is extremely important.

The Management and Business College in Astana does not have special programmes for students involved in inclusive education. By the second or third year, students with hearing impairments become almost indistinguishable from other students. Inclusion means that disabled young people can study with other students and obtain the same knowledge. They attend all courses and fulfil all assignments envisioned by state standards. They communicate with fellow students during breaks, have lunch at the canteen, and engage in sports and the dancing group. The college has created a culture where students with hearing impairments do not need to feel shy and are able to ask for help. Their professional and personal achievements help them gain confidence: the design students’ best works were exhibited at the art gallery of the Palace of Independence and the Palace of Schoolchildren, and the students studying hairdressing are always welcome at a home for the elderly where charity events often take place. Aizhan Abdinasim, one student with a hearing impairment, won the Sunny Girl nomination of the Miss Student competition.

The first graduates with hearing impairments have already found work. Besides entering into a profession setting, they have also begun to integrate socially. The college has been told by parents how grateful they are and its teachers have learned a lot. 

If you have been inspired by any of our previous editions or have success stories you would like to share please get in touch at VEE@britishcouncil.org.