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Opportunities in remote schools (Zahir et al., 2021)

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posted on 2021-11-18, 18:14 authored by Mariyam Z. Zahir, Anna Miles, Linda Hand, Elizabeth C. Ward
Purpose: Alternative service delivery approaches are required to provide support for children with communication difficulties in underserved communities. Schools have a unique set of assets that can be utilized to provide this support. This study explored what the education sector and classrooms in the early years of schooling offer as support for children with communication difficulties in an underserved Majority World country, the Maldives. The objective was to identify opportunities to enhance support provided for these children.
Method: A qualitative multimethod approach was used involving (a) 520 min of classroom observational data from four remote schools, (b) interviews with four special education needs teachers, and (c) an interview with a Ministry of Education official. Classroom observational data were analyzed using the Communication Supporting Classroom Observation Tool. Deductive content analysis was used to analyze the interview data.
Results: The support system aimed to reflect the Inclusive Education Policy of the Maldives. The Ministry of Education official and teachers raised concerns regarding lack of allied health services such as speech-language therapy in schools. Teachers frequently used certain communication supporting interactions such as imitation in classrooms. Missed opportunities to enhance communication were observed, including limited use of some interaction features such as modeling language, limited planned opportunities for children to interact in class, and limited resources in the environment to develop communication in Grade 1 and 2 compared to preschool.
Conclusion: Findings suggest building capacity among teachers and training teachers on identified classroom communication support areas to enhance support for children with communication difficulties.

Supplemental Material S1. Interview guides.

Supplemental Material S2. Support system developed by the Ministry to cater for children under their inclusive education policy.

Zahir, M. Z., Miles, A., Hand, L., & Ward, E. C. (2021). Opportunities to enhance children's communication development at school in underserved communities. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools. Advance online publication.