1. Rationale of the Program
To realize the establishment of the Program of Special Needs Education in Bahir University under the Faculty of Educational and Behavioral Sciences, it is important to indicate and discuss on the variables that should be considered carefully. To justify the program, major issues like country's demand, employment opportunity, viability, and availability of teaching staff are dealt with here under.
The Ethiopian Constitution and The Education and Training Policy has already created conducive environment for the expansion of Special Needs Education. The Ministry of Education in its policy duly stated that the ministry is aimed at education system that is to be open to all learners, regardless of poverty, gender, ethnic backgrounds, language, learning difficulties and impairments. The principle behind this policy is that all children and students are included. Recognizing the exclusion and barriers to active learning and participation, the MOE has designed a strategy for Special Needs Education.
The strategy emphasis that all children and students can learn and many of them need some form of support in learning and active participation. Providing Education For All requires identifying barriers that hinder learning and reducing or removing barriers in early childhood education, schools, technical and vocational training, higher education, teacher education and education management (MOE, 2006).
The Country's Demand
The need assessment survey showed that The Ministry of Education is the first among other organizations who need graduates in Special Needs Education. Officials at different levels of the government schools and bureaus responded that they need graduates who can address the psycho-social and educational needs of school age children and adolescents with special needs. The new educational and training policy document shows that the strong demand of the major stakeholder- the Ministry of Education needs to train about 36,000 special needs education teachers within the coming few years to fulfill the demand of the governmental and nongovernmental organizations, secondary schools, Technical and vocational Education, the regional colleges and teacher training institutes. In line with the demands of the ministry, Education bureau officials also expressed that there is a plan to place Special Needs Education teachers in each schools starting from elementary level. There is a need of professionals who can assess and diagnose the instructional needs of students with special needs, guide, and counsel these students, assist regular teachers to meet the needs of these students and school administrators in handling these students’ and involve on various intervention activities for children with special needs. They need qualified individuals who can address the educational, social and behavioral challenges that many children, youth, and adults with special needs experience. So we feel that we are responsible for the establishment of the department of Special Needs Education to tackle this serious problem of the country. In addition, the establishment of the department creates an opportunity to arrange different kinds of training activities such as kiremt in-service training, evening program, seminars, and workshops to upgrade the level of diploma graduates.
2. Program Goals and Objectives
The specific objectives of the training program are to:
- To produce professionals in Special Needs Education with inclusive orientation, who can combat discriminatory attitudes, create-welcoming communities, built an inclusive society, and strives for the achievement of Education For All.
- To provide quality education in the field of SNE to prepare high-caliber, committed, confident, and socially responsible researchers for the country in general and the well-being of persons with special needs in particular.
- To provide professional support in well-organized manner for the university as well as external community.
- To satisfy the need of educational institutions, other governmental and Non-Governmental organizations at various levels of the country with qualified and skilled professionals.
- To conduct research in education and rehabilitation of persons with special needs.
- To prepare qualified professionals who can involve in assessment and intervention of children with special needs and can offer counseling and consultation to different stakeholders.
3. Program Requirements
3.1 Admission Requirements
Students who attended college preparatory schools and have taken University entrance examination and obtain the score level set by the Ministry of Education to pursue study at higher learning institutions will be admitted to this program. In addition those who already have Diploma or degree in different field of studies (but preferably in the areas of teaching) will be admitted in accordance with the rules and regulations of the Ministry of Education and the legislation of Bahir Dar University. These requirements work for students who want to apply for regular or continuing education programs.
3.2 Duration of Study
The program is organized to be completed in three years for regular program students and four years for continuing education program students.
3.3 Graduation Requirements
In order to be graduated with a B.A degree in Special Needs Education, a student should fulfill all of the requirements set by the university
3.4 Medium of Instruction
The medium of instruction for the program is ENGLISH
4. Degree Nomenclature
The undergraduate Special Needs Education Program leads to a certification referred in English as:
The Degree of Bachelor of Arts in Special Needs Education
And in Amharic as: የአርትባችለርዲግሪበልዩፍለጎትትምህርት
5. Graduates Profile
The program prepares trainees to become professional Special Needs Educators. The curriculum ensures that they will get sound knowledge and skills in Special Needs Education. The trainees will receive many theoretical and practical experiences that enable them to be effective professionals in different areas of special needs education. The program will mainly become community and school based training. Though graduates of this program are assumed to best fit at all school levels and settings, they will also be more effective in organizations where special educational needs are areas of interest.
In general, Graduates of the program will be experts in Special Needs Education and hence able to become
- Teachers of students with Special Needs either in individual or small groups within or outside the class
- Guidance and counselors in mainstreaming and special learning environments and at different levels of the education system of the country
- Researchers in mainstreaming and special learning environments and at different levels of the education system of the country
- Professional Special Needs Educators
- Counselors in organizations interested in children who are at risk or with disabilities.
- Consultants in institutionalized special centers and organizations involved in the education of children with special needs
- Consultants for the educationally disadvantaged, school dropouts, and disruptive students
- Professionals in assessment, identification and intervention of children with special needs
- Resource persons who will address school and family problems as well as social and human rights
- Itinerant teachers who can use special skills such as teaching Braille, instruction in mobility and orientation and Sign language.
- Social workers in the area of Street children, children from disadvantaged backgrounds, children with HIV/AIDS and those with varied unique needs.
- Professionals who can develop strategies to incorporate inclusive education in regular schools.