Nearly 250 children with a range of special needs and learning disabilities are receiving education and development support in Sri Lanka, thanks to funds from the Halcrow Foundation.
Social Economical and Environmental Developer (SEED) is a non-government organisation based in the Vavuniya District. The Halcrow Foundation is supporting SEED’s community-based rehabilitation programme, resulting in around 240 children receiving support. These include 40 children at a special needs school, 190 children in special education units (SEUs) across 32 mainstream schools, and 15 children on SEED’s vocational training programme.
The children have a range of needs and learning difficulties, including autism, Downs syndrome, cerebral palsy, and hearing and speech impairments. They are taught at SEED’s Empowerment Campus in classes of between five and ten according to their abilities and development, by teachers trained in special needs education. Parents are also motivated to participate in their children’s schooling and receive support and counselling by SEED’s trained staff.
Depending on their abilities, some of these children graduate to the vocational training group where they can develop skills in a range of vocational activities, including leatherwork, carpentry and jewellery making. Some also move to the SEUs in the mainstream schools.
Baghi Banghirathan, says: “Having been associated with SEED for a long period, I am overwhelmed by the amazing work they undertake to support poor and marginalised communities and their children. SEED’s pioneering work on special needs education is transforming the education and development of children with special needs in the Vavuniya District.”
The Halcrow Foundation is also helping fund SEED’s work in assisting the Ministry of Education to set up SEUs in mainstream schools. Limited government support is available, so SEED offers workshops and training programmes for teachers and volunteers to help integrate students with hearing and speech impairments.
The units also work at improving children’s mental health. Particularly children and adolescents from refugee families who are affected by the country’s internal conflict or natural disasters, and who cannot afford education or recreational activities.
About Social Economical and Environmental Developer
Social Economical and Environmental Developer (SEED) is a registered non-profit organisation based in Sri Lanka. Since 1996 it has been supporting projects within the education, health and rehabilitation sectors, and established its Empowerment Campus in 2000. By creating community networks, SEED is able to strengthen and improve the income, living conditions and rights of Sri Lanka’s most marginalised groups.