To promote an inclusive society and expose children as young as pre-primary students to accepting people with disabilities and embracing diversity in society, Paro College of Education launched three illustrative books on Friday. The books tell stories of child heroes with diverse disabilities. It took six months for 21 Master’s students from the Inclusive Education Programme and the Primary English Programme to write the books.
The books were written under the Royal University’s innovation project grant. The first book, “Chungku: The Little Princess” tells a story about how the protagonist overcomes loneliness and agony for being a person of short stature.
In the second book titled “Listening with Eyes”, Tenzin a bright and curious boy laughed and mocked for his hearing deficiency makes a remarkable turnaround after learning sign language and becoming a craftsman.
Similarly, the third book, “Yoesel’s Journey: Finding My Voice” is about how a zestful boy with speech impairment breaks the barriers to be able to talk and sing with the help of music and speech therapy. Yoesel not only finds his voice but also helps other children with speech impairment become vocal like him.
There are six books in total under the innovation project. The remaining three books will be launched soon.
“These children living with disabilities must be included in the mainstream and others must see them as a part of their environment so that they can be embraced and included in the society. We want to target children of lower classes. When they first start with pre-primary till class six, that is the moulding age. We call it the Law of Primacy, the first thing they see stays in their brain for a longer period,” said Ugyen Tshomo, an assistant professor at the Paro College of Education.
“The children that are in the school, some of them are exposed to issues with disabilities may be through their family members or friends. But I believe many would not have that opportunity. So by creating these books, they learn about other children who have a disability and learn not just to be aware but to accept disability, so that the Bhutanese society will be more inclusive having young children being exposed to these issues,” said Faridah Serajul Haq (PhD) an associate professor at the Paro College of Education.
The project was also aimed to encourage writing stories on disability and diversity.
“We are hoping that the teachers who contributed stories for the books, we are hoping that they will continue to write children’s books with a focus on issues related to disabilities and diversities. So we hope our project will be sustained in that way. Well, for the future we are hoping that we will come up with more books. We would like to collaborate with teachers in the school to write more books and expand on this project,” said Faridah Serajul Haq.
The books will soon be available in bookstores and will be sold for a minimal cost to cover the printing cost. There are also plans to put them online for wider reach.