Guaranteeing quality and inclusive education to adolescents and youth with disabilities during emergencies is one of the challenges that RET has recently embraced in Panama, with the financial support from the people or the United States of America through the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance. RET’s new project reflects the integral focus of our mission by strengthening the local institutions which diminish risk factors for young people with disabilities.
The goal is to improve both the response capacity and the range of action of the Instituto Panameño de Habilitación Especial (IPHE – Panamanian Institute for Special Adaptation). This will be achieved through a range of activities, which will cumulate in the development of a Guide for Disaster Risk Management in Inclusive Education Centres. With the support of the National Disability Secretariat (SENADIS), Ministry of Education (MEDUCA) and the National System of Civil Protection (SINAPRO) the aim is to consolidate the conceptual and methodological foundations of the work IPHE provides throughout the country.
The IPHE, created in 1951 and reformed in 1990, is an important institution in Panama. Its purpose is the provision of specific services that allow the educational inclusion of children and teenagers with special needs. With MEDUCA and the technical collaboration of OFDA/LAC, UNICEF and RET, the IPHE implements and reinforces the National Policy for the Integral Management of Disaster Risk. This new project will further improve the impact of IPHE’s work and thus greatly boost inclusive education of adolescents and youth with special needs in emergencies.
The project puts a strong emphasis on working with key local actors in a highly participative process. Once the preliminary version of the Guide is drafted the project will enter phases of awareness-raising, training, simulation exercises, dissemination of results and feedback.
This project will reach over 3,000 adolescents with special needs. Also, it will raise the awareness of at least 200 teachers, 60 community leaders and 60 public workers and train them in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR).
The commitment of IPHE, MEDUCA, SINAPRO and RET to this particularly vulnerable population is what drives this project; the expertise in DRR developed by RET in the region is what will make it highly successful.