Inclusive education is "an educational approach that takes into account the particular teaching and learning needs of all marginalized and vulnerable children and young people: street children; girls; children from ethnic minority groups; children from financially disadvantaged families; children from nomadic families; children from displaced families (survivors of wars and disasters, etc.); children living with HIV or AIDS; and children with disabilities”. This educational approach, based on promoting diversity, aims to ensure that these children have equal rights and opportunities in education, and to combat marginalization. Based on the guidelines for inclusion established by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (2005), the Ministry of National Education, Literacy and Promotion of National Languages (MENAPLN) maintains that inclusive education “involves changes and modifications in content, approaches, structures and strategies, with a common vision that covers all children of the appropriate age range and a conviction that it is the responsibility of the regular system to educate all children”.
Act No. 3/96/ADP of 9 May 1996 states that special education is “all education and training activities for persons with a physical, sensory or learning disability, or people experiencing difficulties with personal adaptation and social integration, in order to facilitate their adaptation and social integration”.
There are several types of schools that promote inclusion to varying degrees. The aim is to eventually achieve total inclusion.
Specialized centres are under the supervision of the Ministry of Women, National Solidarity, Family and Humanitarian Action (MFSNFAH). Children and persons with physical, sensory or learning disabilities or who are experiencing difficulties with personal adaptation and social integration attend these centres, with a view to rehabilitating and reintegrating them into the school system and society.
Specialized schools provide a separate learning environment for children with physical disabilities, learning disabilities, hearing impairments or visual impairments, using appropriate teaching methods and learning tools. Staff are trained on each type of disability. Examples are Ecole des Jeunes Aveugles [the School for Blind Youth – EJA] in Gounghin, Ouagadougou, and École spécialisée des enfants sourds [the Special School for Deaf Children] in Garango.
There are two types of integrative schools. In the first case, learners with disabilities are educated in mainstream schools without special support. An external team organizes support. In the second case, learners with disabilities are enrolled at a mainstream school and taught by a specialized teacher in a separate class. These transitional school integration classes last between two and three years. Examples are the Integrated Education and Training Centre for Deaf and Hearing People (CEFISE in French) and other state schools (Tanghin-Dassouri Application A, Boulsin, Tanghin and Ouansoa in the province of Kadiogo, and Boura, Lergho, Tangaré, Zigla-Koulpélé, Ouarégou and Zompalé in Boulgou).
Finally, inclusive schools are those in which all learners – regardless of whether or not they have a disability and/or difficulties in learning, adapting to school and/or adapting socially – learn together from the first year of school. These schools are organized in advance to accommodate children (infrastructure, equipment, teaching, school environment, teacher training on inclusive education).
According to Act No. 012-2010/AN on the protection and promotion of the rights of disabled persons, "inclusive education shall be ensured in preschool, primary, post-primary, secondary and university institutions" (article 9), and "any institution providing initial and in-service training for teachers/literacy teachers in Burkina Faso is required to take inclusive education into account in its training programmes" (article 12). This act is accompanied by Decree 2012-828 on the adoption of social measures in the areas of health and education.
Article 3 of Act No. 013-2007/AN constituting the education framework act states that "everyone living in Burkina Faso shall have the right to education, without discrimination of any kind, including on the grounds of sex, social background, race, religion, political opinion, nationality or state of health. This right shall be exercised on the basis of equity and equal opportunities for all citizens."
The Education and Training Sectoral Programme (PSEF) (2017–2030) in Burkina Faso aims to progressively implement inclusive education through a socioeducational care system for pupils, students and learners with special needs in school, university and training environments. This approach involves developing an inclusion plan that has several stages, including: identification of children with special educational needs; medical and social diagnosis or consultation; guidance; school enrolment; training; monitoring; and awareness-raising. It also involves "adapting existing educational and training infrastructures, ensuring that new buildings incorporate accessibility standards and acquiring specific educational materials for schools and pupils. Health support, equipment and mobility aids will also make it possible to improve the education of children living with disabilities in a mainstream environment." The National Strategy for the Development of Inclusive Education (SNDEI) was adopted on 24 July 2018 and runs from 2018 to 2022.
Disability and special educational needs
The Constitution recognizes the right to education, teaching and training for persons with disabilities. Act No. 012-2012 aims to promote and protect persons with disabilities, and Act No. 013-2007/AN constituting the education framework act proclaims the right to education for persons with disabilities. It states in this regard that "the State and local authorities, the private sector and other partners in education shall develop special education for persons with physical or learning disabilities, or who have difficulties with personal adaptation and social integration".
The aforementioned Act No. 012-2010/AN also plans to introduce a disability card for persons with disabilities. It would entitle the holder to certain educational and transport benefits. For its part, Act No. 3/96/ADP provides a framework for the State on the measures to be taken to encourage and facilitate persons with disabilities to practise sport. Zatu No. 86/005/CNR/PRES lists the educational benefits that are granted to persons with disabilities (scholarships, priority enrolment, increased age limit, etc.). Finally, Kiti No. 86-149 sets out the provisions to be made for disabled persons when constructing public buildings.
The Inclusive Education Situation Report 2013 presents an overview of some inclusive education interventions, such as inclusive education projects for children with disabilities in the province of Kadiogo, in the commune of Garango and in the diocese of Manga, as well as projects to train specialized teachers for children with hearing impairments, visual impairments or learning disabilities. One project involves integrating 40 blind pupils into state schools in Bobo-Dioulasso.
In 2007, the Government established the Technical Directorate for Girls' Education and Gender Promotion. The Strategic Development Programme for Basic Education (PDSEB) (2012–2021) aims to increase the provision of post-primary technical and vocational education and training with gender equity. To do so, it plans to build boarding schools and community houses in each province for girls who live far away from training centres. In addition, the programme plans to have incentives for girls to prevent them from marrying early. It will ensure that all girls in rural areas have access to the school canteen (or take-home dry rations in disadvantaged areas). Finally, the National Strategy for the Acceleration of Girls' Education (SNAEF) 2012–2022 was also adopted.
Since 2015, girls' education promotion programmes at the post-primary and secondary levels have systematically included the promotion of gender equality. The Education Access and Quality Improvement Project (PAAQE) (PAAQE) that began in 2016 with support from the World Bank focuses on girls. This project will provide education grants for 1,000 children from disadvantaged backgrounds, with 55 per cent of these grants reserved for girls. Another project to promote girls' education has been developed and implemented since 2017 with support from the World Bank. It aims to increase the access, retention and success of girls in post-primary and secondary education, and ultimately empower girls. The third general objective of this project is to improve knowledge of sexual and reproductive health in schools.
The Burkinabé Response to Improve Girl’s chances to Succeed (BRIGHT) programme has made it possible to build 132 school complexes for girls in 10 provinces. MENAPLN mandated the systematic construction of latrines in all new schools and exempted female pupils’ parents from paying annual school fees in the 20 provinces with the lowest school enrolment rates. The BRIGHT programme enabled teacher training on girls' education and oversaw the construction of schools equipped with artesian wells and toilets.
Ethnic and linguistic groups
Act No. 013-2007 affirms that "the languages of instruction in Burkina Faso are French and the national languages, both in teaching practice and assessments". Furthermore, the PDSEB 2012–2021 aims to scientifically describe as many national languages as possible and ensure that appropriate teaching materials are available in these languages. Subprogramme 3 of the PDSEB focuses on promoting bilingualism and multilingualism in basic education. The drafting of a policy to promote national languages began in March 2019 under the leadership of MENAPLN, which established a permanent secretariat for its implementation.
The PDSEB 2012–2021 emphasizes that children should not have to travel more than 3 km to primary school or more than 10 km to post-primary institutions. The programme also states that the school calendar will be adapted to the local area, according to the specific characteristics of each region.
Decree 2008-236/PRES/PM/MEBA/MESSRS/MASSN/MATD advocates the principles of free basic state education and non-discrimination. The PDSEB 2012–2021 also aspires to extend the school canteen network to all schools in rural and suburban areas. MENAPLN has taken concrete actions towards this, including distributing free textbooks and school supplies to all pupils in basic education, and extending school canteens.
Various government bodies are responsible for inclusive education, including:
MENAPLN, which is responsible for promoting and implementing inclusive education
the Ministry of Higher Education, Scientific Research and Innovation
the Ministry of Women, National Solidarity, Family and Humanitarian Action, which is responsible for the care of persons with learning or physical disabilities
the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralization
the Ministry of Youth, Vocational Training and Employment
However, inclusive education is mainly dominated by associations (the National Union of Burkinabe Associations for the Promotion of the Blind and Visually Impaired (UN-ABPAM)) and the Association of Parents of Encephalopathic Children (APEE), non-governmental organizations (the Tierno and Mariam International Foundation (FITMA), Light for the World and Handicap International) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The Network for the Promotion of Inclusive and Integrative Education (REPEI) also acts as a link between the State and the aforementioned organizations. Finally, REPEI and MENAPLN have a partnership agreement.
The PDSEB 2012–2021 aims to provide all non-formal educational facilities with resources such as access ramps in centres that do not have them, board easels, equipment for deaf learners, and so on. The PSEF 2017–2030 provides for the construction of specific latrines and access ramps. For the PSEF 2017–2030, "inclusive education will be progressively implemented through a socioeducational care system for pupils, students and learners with special needs in school, university and training environments".
The PDSEB 2012–2021 plans to update the curricula in French and in the national languages to give greater consideration to specific local characteristics and emerging themes. In 2019, the National Assembly of Burkina Faso adopted a National Languages Promotion Act. A technical secretariat is responsible for coordinating the process of developing national language policy.
Teaching materials and information and communications technology (ICT)
The PSEF 2017–2030 provides for the procurement of specific educational materials for pupils with disabilities. Since 2015, the Burkinabe associations for the promotion of the blind and visually impaired and Asmae have been adapting inclusive kindergarten classes of sighted children and children with visual impairments. These classes are equipped with special materials: cut-out shapes, letters in large print, magnifying glasses, audiobooks and Braille materials. Finally, the use of ICT enables CEFISE/Benaja to educate its learners and train educators, who use Dico Sign_1.0 software to help users of sign language improve their communication.
Teacher training on inclusive education (differentiated instruction and paces of learning) is provided by teacher training schools and the organizations themselves. There is no specific national diploma for inclusive education. In 2013, the lack of a validated teacher training programme on inclusive education was noted. It was also noted that "the numbers of hours and the content of training on the same type of disability differ between stakeholders". However in 2019, under the process of reforming initial teacher training schools, there are plans to introduce training programmes on gender.
The PDSEB 2012–2021 also provides the means to create, within the national primary education teacher training schools, a department responsible for training staff on inclusive education management. In this regard, teacher training programmes will be revised in order to take more effective action to correct disparities at the regional level and according to the living environment (rural/urban), and to ensure gender promotion. It was also agreed that teachers would be trained on psychosocial care, disabilities and how to react in an emergency. The duration of teacher training on hearing impairments (Association Benebnooma, the Institute for Young Deaf People of Faso, the Rehabilitation and Career Guidance Centre for Deaf and Hearing People and CEFISE) and visual impairments (La Renaissance school and UN-ABPAM) varies according to the organization, ranging from 15 days to three years. CEFISE and UN-ABPAM also offer practical training.
MENAPLN and the non-governmental organization (NGO) Humanity and Inclusion have finally published a training handbook for teacher training. This practical handbook includes the definition and founding principles of inclusive education, barriers to education and partnerships in inclusive education. It also focuses on effective educational and teaching practices and addresses the subject of the management and differentiation of teaching. It was revised in 2019 to take into account aspects related to marginalized children and best practices for inclusive classes.
Support personnel training
The NGOs Humanity and Inclusion and the Catholic Organization for Development and Solidarity (OCADES) train health-care and functional-rehabilitation professionals who have a comprehensive role in schools (health-care staff, orthotic and prosthetic technicians, and rehabilitation or orthopaedic assistants) on implementing preventive or reactive and curative or rehabilitative measures.
An education system status report was published in 2015.
Burkina Faso conducted a general census of children with disabilities in 2013. However, there are no official statistics on these children outside the education system. There is also no directory of schools working on disability. To this end, the PDSEB 2012–2021 aims to map the number of children with special needs of school age in order to ensure optimal planning for their needs.
The PDSEB 2012–2021 and the PSEF 2017–2030 target certain indicators to assess the status of inclusive education, including the access rate of girls in rural and urban areas; the percentage of pupils with disabilities taken into account; and the number of affirmative action measures adopted, teachers trained on inclusive education, parents made aware, specific campaigns, referral services for persons with disabilities, kits for pupils with disabilities, ramps built, latrines installed and leaflets disseminated, etc.