Integrated Governance and Inclusive Education- Duhok
SALAR International has implemented the Intergrated Governance and Inclusive Education project in Duhok to build inclusive systems at all levels of society to provide proper schools and learning conditions for all children.
Inclusive education means that all children, including those with disabilities, have equal access to schools. This project represents an example of inclusive education for everyone working with teaching in Duhok and in the whole region of Kurdistan in Iraq (KRI). The process, facilitated by SALAR International, is a partnership built on a peer-to-peer exchange of knowledge between experts, teachers and decision makers in Duhok and in Sweden.
Integrated governance is a field in which Sweden and SALAR have much valuable experience to share, in terms of both policy and practice at local level. To address complex social problems, there is a need for different sectors and levels of government and civil society to collaborate and develop integrated ways of working. KRI in Iraq has a tradition of a highly centralised public administration. However, government stakeholders at central and local level are open to collaborate between departments and have initiated various committees to address complex issues such as humanitarian aid.
The project took as its starting point the progressive aim of the KRI Government to safeguard the educational rights of children with special needs. Since signing the UN declaration of People with Disabilities in 2013, Iraq and the KRI have been committed to providing inclusive education. A decree in the Governorate of Duhok in 2018 concretised this commitment. This decree stated that all children being educated (or reformed) by Social Affairs, must be included in the Directorate of Education schools.
A pilot project
To address complex social problems, there is a need for different sectors and levels of government and civil society to collaborate and develop integrated ways of working. The project developed a pilot approach to inclusive education suitable for Duhok. This also entailed common understanding of inclusive education, strong networks and local government collaboration, and the development of a long-term strategy for inclusive education in the region. This was done via peer-to-peer collaboration, expert input, and capacity building in two Inclusive Education Pilot Schools.
How to get children in school and learning
DIEP has piloted a world class inclusive education training programme and targeted primarily teachers and managers. Thereby, two schools with 2093 children have benefited directly from the pilot programme. The process has built capacity for the education system in Duhok in the form of the 19 principal trainer-facilitators. By using the Whole School Approach, the project raised knowledge and standards across the entire school. All the training materials used are based on an international framework and available in Kurdish Badini.
A peer-to-peer IE learning network linking the pilot schools and partners with Sweden was a very important factor to building teachers’ capacities. Sessions were held by Swedish experts for the teachers and these sessions were based on topics that are chosen by the teachers themselves.
At school level, the training programme consisted of different measures based on screening and identifying needs together with active learning in the classroom. School-focused accessible infrastructure had several important features to improve the facilities for all children. Internal and external ramps were built as well as a transparent roof for an internal courtyard, safety rails, improved sound, and light environments in the classrooms through painting, lower ceilings and better lighting, sheltered walkways linking the school to the bathroom facilities. One toilet was made accessible for children using wheelchairs.
A national government responsibility
The national Government now aligns laws and policies with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This means that they regularly must collect and analyse data to ensure that children have access to effective services. This national impact was achieved by helping different sectors of government and civil society to collaborate and develop ways of working together. The project thereby helped to create new co-operations with joint responsibility for plans and agreements. The new partnerships lead to more co-operation between central and local level, which moves decision-making and influence closer to the people in Duhuk and elsewhere.
By designing and piloting bottom-up processes where local authorities in different sectors coordinate and work together towards a shared goal, DIEP has fostered effective local self-governance. These strong horizontal partnership – between the Duhok governorate, the Directorate of Education (DoE), and the General Directorate of Labour and Social Affairs (DoLSA) - has served as a model for how local authorities could join forces to address complex social problems. Through the partnership, key local stakeholders have developed a common understanding of inclusive education. This has helped to build strong networks and collaboration mechanisms, with joint initiatives in the working groups and in school communities. Ultimately this has established a long-term strategy for inclusive education in the Kurdistan Region.